The FM Ideas Conference began with a gala reception Tuesday evening, where old friends and new friends met up at Red Rocks Resort. The sun set over the Las Vegas desert,anticipation built for the next few days, and it was clear that this conference was no roll of the dice for those who are attending!
Bright and early Wednesday morning, attendees woke up to the opening sessions. Setting the tone for the conference ahead, three speakers addressed managing costs in a real-world operating environment, using the global flavor palate for success and facing the realities of sustainability.
Restaurant trends guru Kevin Higar spoke first and proved to be a jackpot of information for the audience. He provided some realistic answers and solid advice for today's changing economic climate. "Be aware of the mindset of 'consumer consideration,'" Higar said. "Think about how you, as an operator, fit into the consumer's lifestyle."
Next up was Certified Master Chef Dr. Victor Gielisse, associate vice president of the Culinary Institute of America, on hand to speak about the global palate. In Gielisse's world-view, "The Plate is Flat," a take-off on the popular book "The World is Flat." Gielisse talked about some mega-trends. "Consumers want convenience, taste, variety, value, and wellness," he said.
Sustainability, no longer regarded as merely a trend, was the focus for the next speaker, Arlin Wasserman, vice president of corporate citizenship for Sodexo. Sustainability has simply become a critical strategic imperative for foodservice today, Wasserman said.