NAPA, CA -- Asians are the fastest growing foreign born population in the United States and their influence is causing a seismic shift in American food culture. The integration of Asian flavors and styles into Western food is the biggest culinary mega-trend in American food service today so, it stands to reason, Asian cuisine was the theme at the Culinary Institute of America's (CIA) Worlds of Flavor Conference this year.
And, as you might expect, rice was a featured ingredient. As one conference speaker remarked, "rice is the centerpiece of Asian cuisine and all the other ingredients are made to complement it."
USA Rice was a sponsor of the exclusive three-day event that had more than 700 attendees, including food service operators, professional chefs, food writers and bloggers, and restauranteurs. The California rice industry generously donated more than 130 pounds of rice for the conference. Sushi, Calrose, sweet, and U.S. jasmine were just a sampling of the domestic varieties used for chef cooking demonstrations and tastings.
"Unlike with average consumers, it's no surprise to this audience that rice is grown in the United States," said USA Rice's Domestic Promotion Manager Katie Maher. "And while they are inspired by flavors from across the globe, the professional food community still wants to source their food locally and U.S.-grown rice is a perfect fit for their menus."
Brandon Jew, a professional chef from San Francisco who spoke at a seminar about grains said, "I think it's really important to source ingredients from where you are. For example, you can get excellent quality rice right here in California. I source locally when I can and even encourage my staff to visit our producers' farms to see where our ingredients come from."
In addition to being a conference sponsor, USA Rice also conducted two different flavor discovery tastings featuring USA Rice's Korean Spicy Tuna Rice Bowl prepared with Calrose rice and Beef Satay Rice Bowl made with U.S. jasmine rice. USA Rice also promoted MenuRice.com through conference materials and displayed many rice types available to chefs including parboiled, wild, and U.S. specialty varieties.
Chef Kimball Jones, who prepared and presented both USA Rice tastings, said, "My children were the guinea pigs when I was testing the recipes at home and now they're on a rice kick!"
Maher concluded: "As the popularity of Asian cuisine continues to grow, U.S. rice is well positioned to take advantage of this food trend. Whether it's an independent restaurant or higher volume venues like fast, casual restaurants and university cafés across the country serving Asian inspired dishes, we've shown that U.S. rice can be an integral component to the meal."
Contact: Deborah Willenborg (703) 236-1444