If there’s one time when it’s OK to play with your food, it has to be at a produce industry luncheon, of course! I guess I should give you a little background.
Each April, in honor of our company’s anniversary month, we sponsor the Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s bimonthly luncheon. FPFC is our local produce industry group, and my mother, Frieda, was a founding member back in 1963. In 1991 I became the first female chairman. Remember, the produce industry was heavily male-dominated, so even in the early 90s, having a woman chairman was a big deal!
So, back to last week’s luncheon. For a sponsorship fee, we are able to have one or two of our products included in the menu. Each sponsor has five minutes to talk to the audience of several hundred people about what’s new at each of our companies. This time, one of the co-sponsors, my good friend, Jan DeLyser of the California Avocado Commission, suggested we try something different. She suggested that, because the luncheon speaker was going to talk about our industry’s new partnership with “Sesame Street,” and snacking for young children, we should instead have a “snacking challenge.”
Rather than the four sponsors talking for 20 minutes, that time would be used for each table to come up with a creative snack that would appeal to young kids.
Here’s how the challenge would work. A plate would be set up on each table with products from all four sponsors: baby carrots from Bolthouse Farms, tomatoes from Tasti-Lee Tomatoes, a California avocado, and one of Frieda’s newest products, Purple Snow Peas. Along with those fresh items, there would also be some seasonings, Greek yogurt, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds.
I have to be honest here—I was completely skeptical about this. I just couldn’t picture a room full of adults, who usually sit and listen to speakers, getting engaged in creating kid-friendly snacks.
Boy, was I wrong.
The buzz in the room was amazing! Everyone was super enthusiastic about the challenge, and it took quite a few minutes to get everyone back in their seats after the challenge. You can see the photos of some of the finished snacks which we all got to name too.
So, what did we learn? One: it’s OK to play with your food. And, two: adults like a change of pace when attending industry events.
Next time you are in charge of a food event like a company luncheon or dinner party, let your guests get creative and design their own meals! Make it a competition with prizes to bring out their competitive side, then see where things go.
Creativity comes from being comfortable with your inner child. Maybe each of us should let our inner child out a little more often.