Kansas City local chef and executive chef of Applebee’s, Patrick Humphrey, joined 16 foodservice power players for a total blueberry immersion hosted by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in the Napa Valley, March 7-9.

Chef Humphrey joined executive chefs from Panera Bread, Wendy’s, Hilton, IHOP, Disneyland and Google, among others, and experienced three days of education and experimentation with blueberries, learning how adding them to menus is a little change with big benefits.  

"I went into this event thinking I knew everything that could be done with blueberries, but left surprised and inspired by their versatility, most notably with savory applications,” said Chef Humphrey. “I look forward to incorporating more blueberries into our menus as it’s one way to help customers have access to more nutritious choices."

The Blueberry Council was very impressed with Chef Humphrey as he took blueberries to another level with his Scallion Pancake with Blueberry Bacon Onion Jam. Many would be surprised to find out how well blueberries pair with bacon, but Chef Humphrey clearly revealed how truly delicious this pairing can be.

During the educational trip, chefs were encouraged to explore the many forms of blueberries: freeze-dried, powdered, pureed, pickled, juiced, dried and more. With 44 percent of consumers finding dishes that include blueberries more appealing, and 20 percent1 purchasing specific items because they contain blueberries, these little dynamos should be a top consideration for restaurants looking to delight their customers and improve their bottom line.

“Chefs and blueberries have a win-win relationship,” said Mark Villata, executive director of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. “By working with chefs to elevate the blueberry’s profile, we impact high-volume purchases and send more consumers into stores to buy. And by incorporating more blueberries into their menus, chefs profit while reminding customers there are ways to make healthier choices without compromising on taste.”

For more details on the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s 2015 Blueberry Boot Camp, visit our foodservice-dedicated website.