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As Seen In...Louisville with IFEC

During the annual International Foodservice Editorial Council gathering in Louisville, KY, conference organizers encouraged attendees to celebrate everything the city had to offer, especially the bourbon and bites! During the conference’s premier event, the Chef Showcase, chefs from around the city converged on the Omni Hotel (ushered in by none other than Churchill Downs’ famous trumpet player) to show off their culinary prowess through the likes of appetizers and plates. The four-day event also brought the bites and bourbon to several other networking events. Here’s a look at the truly appetizing and trend-forward bites that attendees were treated to.   

All photos courtesy Buzz Orr Multimedia, unless otherwise noted

Grazing boards continue to be popular stations during events, even during breakfast. During one breakfast, Emmi Roth set out a breakfast charcuterie board featuring assorted cheeses, breads, fruits, vegetables, spreads, and hard-boiled eggs.

Nostalgia continues to be on-trend, and Kellanova brought the ‘90s to the Chef Showcase where they served Mac n’ Cheeze-It Bites as well as a Cheeze-It Biscuit with Pulled Pork. 

Boozy desserts are one of the food trends expected to make a major play in 2024, and Reser’s Foodservice embraced the trend head-on with its Pineapple & Mango Key Lime Mojito Verrine (pineapple cremeux, key lime mojito gelee, mango fluid gel, whipped coconut rum panna cotta, mango and coconut pineapple compote, and coconut snow).

Food and beverage pairings are all the rage during events, where guests can sample a small bite to see how it pairs and complements myriad accompaniments. Wisconsin Cheese, for example, paired its cheese with different bourbons, and Tillamook paired its cheese with various accompaniments (strawberry, bacon, apple, jams, pepperoni, olives, prosciutto, raspberry, and candied pecans). Tillamook also paired its fried cheese curds with different dipping sauces (Spicy Cheddar Chili Ranch, Northwest Apple BBQ, and Extra Sharp Cheddar Ranch), while Pillsbury served its Southern Style Biscuits with three different butters (honey chipotle, Kentucky apple, and sorghum), and Bourbon Barrel Foods (which attendees visited as part of a food tour) offered various barrel-aged soy sauces (shown) paired with varying accompaniments (bacon, micro greens, cheese, mushrooms, and cucumbers). 

Tillamook embraced the boozy dessert trend with its Kentucky-inspired milkshake, made with vanilla bean ice cream and local bourbon.

Innovations in plant-based foods are expected to be trending throughout 2024. Throughout the week, IFEC members were served various plant-based offerings including vegetable samosas (Indian chutney, potatoes, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar), plant-based brioche buns from La Brea Bakery (shown) with their Hot Brown Burger (turkey patty, mornay, smoky bacon, pecorino, tomatoes, arugula, and aioli), and Motif FoodWorks served their plant-based grounds in the form of a kofta kebab on pita bread with a Tzatziki sauce. 

The sober drinking movement made its way to bourbon-country when the National Mango Board and the National Watermelon Promotion Board served non-alcoholic cocktails alongside alcoholic drinks: Mango Bourbon Smash (bourbon, mint, cinnamon, mango, and maple); Winner’s Circle (turmeric, citrus, green tea, and mango puree); Down Stretch (watermelon, rosemary, winter spice syrup, and bourbon); and Back in the Saddle (shown) with watermelon, blackberry jam, honey syrup, sage, and sparkling water. 

Bringing regionality and authenticity into your dishes is always a crowd pleaser during events because it helps guests connect to a place. Kentucky-based Chef Sara Bradley (who previously competed on Top Chef) prepared a duo of deviled eggs, which celebrated two of Kentucky’s famed dishes: The Hot Brown (tomato jam, parmesan, bacon, and chicken) and the Benedictine (cream cheese, dill, pickled cucumber salad, and brioche). 

Sensory and immersive dining encourages guests to literally play with their food, and Barilla (above) got in on this trend with their Al Bronzo Sensory Experience. Attendees were encouraged to play with Barilla’s durum semolina before getting a close-up look at the Al Bronzo premium bronze die pasta (which is made using Barilla’s trademarked Lavarazione grezza process). The experience culminated with guests enjoying a simple pasta preparation in tomato sauce. 

What a way to welcome guests to dinner! Churchill Downs’ famous trumpet player ushered attendees into the Chef Showcase. 

Beautiful plating always brings food up a notch. During one of the lunches General Mills Foodservice served up brownies with salted bourbon caramel elevated with garnishes and drizzles. 

Idaho potato pavé with steak tartare. 

Bourbon Barrel Foods served a unique spin on a margarita at their distillery where a few drops of their smoked barrel-aged soy sauce are added to the drink. Photo courtesy Amber Kispert

Beef brisket with pumpkin spice barbecue, pecans, and mini mashers. 

Amber Kispert

Senior Content Producer

Amber is the Senior Content Producer for Catersource. Amber previously worked as a Communications Specialist for LeClair Group and a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, both located in Woodbury, Minn.  As a self-described "foodie," Amber loves to experience the world of food and beverages, and is excited to help share the stories of Catersource and the world's caterers.