To help inspire better-for-you menu options in chain restaurants, the California Strawberry commission hosted a culinary workshop for select restaurant chain corporate chefs, menu developers and buyers. The two-and-a-half day event provided an in-depth look at the field-to-fork journey of California strawberries.

As part of the workshop, field, cooler and processor tours were conducted. Participants also heard from experts on health benefits, farming research and food safety. Hands-on culinary sessions provided opportunities to taste new recipe concepts, examine complimentary and contrasting flavor ingredients and experiment with the versatile flavor aspects of strawberries. The event culminated with a market basket challenge in which teams of participating chefs created new menu concepts relevant for their respective restaurants.

"This California strawberry workshop is one of the most comprehensive and worthwhile events I've attended," says Jason Gronlund, executive chef and senior director of culinary for Hard Rock Cafe. "The fact that we were able to take the information presented and apply the concepts that made sense to our operations was extremely beneficial."

The workshop comes at a time when the foodservice industry is increasingly focused on providing patrons with flavor-forward, healthful fruit and vegetable menu options, driven by consumer demand and new government mandates.

California is the largest producer of strawberries in the US with hundreds of family farms. Because of their year-round availability, menu developers can count on a consistent supply of the highest quality fresh and frozen California strawberries for every season.