Holistic Community

A select group of industry chefs and foodservice media members were invited to join us at the beginning of the month for the 2019 California Walnut Harvest and the second annual Camp Walnut event. This one-of-a-kind educational chef experience was a replica of a traditional overnight summer camp, allowing the group to learn all about California walnuts in a truly unique setting. We returned to AutoCamp Russian River for the second year in a row where the attendees slept in luxury airstreams (or in 5 star tents if they chose) among the northern California Redwoods in beautiful Sonoma County, California. It was truly a VIP glamping experience.

Campers flew in from all over the country representing organizations including American Airlines, Hello Fresh, Red Lobster, Plate Magazine, and Snap Kitchen. Four chefs who had previously attended a California Walnut Chef Summit acted as Camp Counselors.

The three-day, outdoor, action-packed event included a variety of opportunities to taste, learn about, and explore California walnuts, ranging from a number of multi-coursed walnut-centric meals, to witnessing the walnut harvest firsthand, to time spent playing in a built-out alfresco kitchen. Not to mention, the games and s’mores, where chefs fervently discussed menu trends around the campfire.

On the first full day, campers experienced a walnut harvest at Ramos Family Farms. Observing the process from start to finish, some were brave enough to jump into the mechanical shakers to lend a hand in shaking walnuts from the trees. The tour concluded with a walnut-inspired, family-style luncheon set in the middle of the picturesque orchard. On the trip back to camp, the bus stopped for a surprise tour of Marin French Cheese, the oldest continually operating cheese manufacturer in the United States. Campers sampled a variety of cheeses, paired with California walnuts, of course.

The next morning began with California Walnut classroom time and some cool Camp Counselor cooking demos. The Walnut 101 lesson covered the nutritional benefits of walnuts and the advantages of adding them to a menu and meeting consumer demand. Afterward, the chefs put their newfound walnut wisdom to the test during a “Hunting/Gathering” challenge where they incorporated walnuts into delicious new dishes in original and innovative ways. Team Green took home the prize for the second year in a row with their California Tostada with Walnut Mole and their California Walnut Bing with homemade hoisin. Congrats to Chefs Juliet Greene, Charles Schermer, Matt Farrell, and Cynthia Malik! Look for the recipes in an upcoming e-newsletter.

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