Markon Cooperative Hosts Sixth Annual Chef Summit; Andy Hamilton and Chris Casson Discuss
SALINAS, CA - Plant-powered options may not be a new concept, but they are more intensely taking the world by storm, growing in popularity amongst consumers both at retail and on restaurant menus. To celebrate the category and unity amongst the foodservice industry, Markon Cooperative hosted its sixth annual Chef Summit, giving chefs the opportunity to use their skills to give back.
“The culinary power of produce is at the forefront of what Markon does every day,” said Andy Hamilton, Markon’s Chief Executive Officer. “This culinary excellence shined through our network of innovative chefs who collaborated and demonstrated their commitment to the Salinas community. We truly care about the journey of produce from the field to the plate, and we brought this journey to life through our Chef Summit and inaugural Taste of Markon fundraiser.”
Markon’s Chef Summit was held September 9–10, 2021, in Monterey, California, and brought together 17 chefs from the company’s foodservice members and operators. According to a press release, the chefs were able to attend produce field tours, participate in roundtable discussions about the produce industry and its trends, connect with suppliers and growers to talk about innovation and new products, and work together to create new plant-powered dishes while mentoring young culinary students.
Over the two-day event, the company’s fundraising dinner, A Taste of Markon, established itself as a highlight. Markon and its chefs hosted the meal to benefit Rancho Cielo Drummond Culinary Academy, an alternative education school that teaches at-risk youth culinary skills and provides job placement opportunities. Through the dinner, Markon was able to raise over $11,000 for the academy, its scholarship fund, and to stock the student kitchen with ingredients and tools.
Students of the academy also assisted in preparing the five-course produce-centric meal, showcasing the fresh fruits and vegetables of California’s Salinas Valley. This is the fifth year that Markon has partnered with the academy, enabling students to work side-by-side with chefs at the Summit.
“Markon’s Chef Summit has evolved over the years since its inception in 2015 and we continue to be presented with a wealth of new information and ideas for us to take back to our own kitchens,” said Chris Casson, Shamrock Foods Company’s Vice President of Sales for Produce and Specialty Foods. “This year we wanted to expand our partnership with Rancho Cielo Drummond Culinary Academy to do more. This fundraiser provided a unique and memorable experience to allow us to collaborate and mentor young chefs as we created an unparalleled dining experience. We used our culinary talents to not only create amazing, on-trend dishes but to also give back and help shape the future generation.”
A Taste of Markon’s menu included:
- Trumpet-Shiitake Mushroom “scallops”
- Seared Japanese scallops with red and yellow pepper coulis, chive oil, prosciutto, and yuzu pea tendril salad
- Cream of cauliflower and celery soup with sweet baby cauliflower, buffalo crema, and crispy onions
- Blistered root butterleaf salad with charred sweet potato timbale, golden raisin infused chevre, and artisan meats topped with a blackberry shrub-marrow vinaigrette
- Dry-aged New York strip steak served over golden potato and sunchoke purée with a braised short rib croquette, caramelized fennel, and arugula gremolata
- Gold potato and sunchoke gnocchi, caramelized fennel, artichoke hearts, wilted arugula, crispy sunchokes, and preserved lemon gremolata
- Grilled peaches and berries topped with a bourbon aged maple glaze, whipped mascarpone, a roasted almond and red quinoa streusel, and micro basil
Platinum sponsors of the event were Gills Onions, Sugar Foods, The Mushroom Council, and Taylor Farms.
Cheers to Markon Cooperative for continuing to shine a light on fresh produce and helping others as it does so!