TORONTO — Restaurants Canada’s annual RC Show once again brought Canada’s foodservice industry together for three days of networking and learning. This year’s event, which took place at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, focused on the theme “Canada Unleashed”, in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.
During the show, more than 80 events were hosted on the conference’s seven stages. Here is a sampling of the seminars featured:
Emerging trends in tea: Louise Roberge, president of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada (formerly Tea Association of Canada), highlighted ways operators could drive tea sales in today’s evolving market. She noted that the way tea is presented on menus, especially in full-service restaurants, has a big impact on customers’ willingness to buy. “How can you expect to sell pie when you just say “pie” [on your menu]?” Roberge asked, noting the disparity in how coffee and tea are described on menus. “As soon as you give them some qualification on the tea…you can put more dollars to it,” she added.
With diversifying taste and increased interest in tea, Roberge characterized tea as an offering that is often overlooked. “As the population is diversifying, we are also diversifying our taste,” she explains. “Millennials are embracing a lot of beverages and they’re embracing tea, but don’t forget the boomers.” Roberge notes that because many from this group will be retiring soon, they will have more time to prepare and enjoy tea.
Marketing your brand through storytelling: On Monday, Arlene Stein, executive director & founder of Terroir Hospitality, spoke to the power of branding and how to shape your establishment/brand’s unique identity through storytelling. During her discussion, Stein pointed to brands such as Rive Select as examples of those that are effectively telling the story of their history and philosophy through logos and online presence. “When we tell our stories or share our stories, we impassion people to enjoy, appreciate and like what we do,” she explained. “So, we’re creating an emotional attachment.”
Stein said it is key to link the logo/image associated with a product with the story behind it. By conveying part of this story through imagery, brands can inspire curiosity and interest in the origins of the product and support the creation of a community of people that aligns with their philosophies. “The interesting thing about any food stories, is that they inspire you to go and actually see the place where it came from, the people that created it, the culture surrounding it,” she added.
Experience something new: In a seminar presented by tasteUS, chef Sang Kim demonstrated how traditional ethnic dishes, such as Korean cuisine, can be reimagined using North American products. To demonstrate this point, Kim created kkakdugi — a traditional radish-based kimchi — using Bosc pears from Oregon.
Kim noted the key to successful substitutions, such as using California-grown rice rather than the traditional Japanese sushi rice, relies on properly understanding the ingredient’s unique qualities. As he explains, the California-grown grain requires a longer rinse time, as well as a longer resting period.
The 2017 RC Show was also the site of several competitions, including the Frankie Tomatto’s Restaurant Innovation Award, “Iron Chef” culinary student competition and a series of bartender competitions.