California Walnuts: Culinary Institute of America Study Trip

In September it was reported that the California Walnut Commission were hosting a culinary trip to Napa, California for professional chefs. Now a few weeks on, read how the chefs were inspired by walnuts from California…

Four chefs, from independent consultants to world class foodservice companies, participated in a study trip to California in August.

The primary focus of the activity was to visit the renowned Culinary Institute of America at CIA Greystone in Napa Valley, California, to discover new and novel ways to incorporate California Walnuts in foodservice, mainstream menus and restaurants across the globe.

The four venerable chefs from the UK were:

  • Nick Vadis, Culinary Director of Compass Group
  • Matt Hay, Chef Director at BaxterStorey
  • Mickael Jahan, Innovation Development for UK and Ireland – Aryzta.
  • James Buckley, Development executive chef O2 and London Leisure Levy Restaurants.

The group visited distinguished California eateries from the Thomas Keller Group in Napa and were able to discuss techniques and uses for ingredients, including California Walnuts with the chef teams at each of the establishments. A visit to the unique kitchen garden at the CIA and the garden at Keller’s world famous French Laundry gave further insight to the close relationship between producers and chefs.

Chef Nick Vadis commented, “We were delighted to attend this highly entertaining and enlightening trip. The food, the company and the demonstrations were fascinating. We’ll be looking to try and incorporate high quality great tasting California Walnuts in our food offerings going forward”.

The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the CIA in Napa. Chef instructor Barbara Alexander, with over 30 year’s experience running prestigious hotel kitchens and Michelin calibre restaurants, hosted interactive sessions focusing on novel ways to include California Walnuts in a wide variety of recipes and snacks. A range of dishes were created and sampled by the chefs, with Chef Barbara encouraging the participates to ‘get closer to the action’. An example of the dishes created, included Grilled Octopus with California Walnut Charmoula and Fried California Walnuts with Kaffir Lime and Chilies.

The culinary tour moved on to San Francisco where the chefs continued their menu sampling, helping to build on the CIA concepts for their return back to their development bakeries and kitchens.

Chef Mickael Jahan also commented, “As a chef, irrespective of your experience, you never stop learning, there were some excellent ideas put forward by the CIA demonstration and I’d love to try and get some of these ideas incorporated into our products at Aryzta, a great trip, thank you CWC”.

Trade representative Iain Forbes from The Garden (Marketing and PR), who accompanied the UK chefs, commented, “The ultimate goal of the activity is to create opportunities that lead to more California Walnuts being used in more retail products, mainstream meals and foodservice menus nationally in the UK, and possibly even internationally”.

To read the full article on the UK chefs trip to CIA Greystone in California and details of the recipe creations, please click here.

For further information please contact the California Walnut Commission.
c/o The Garden (Marketing & PR) Ltd,
Bourne End Business Park,
Cores End Road, Bourne End,
Buckinghamshire, SL8 5AS.
Tel: 01628 535 755

[email protected]