Chefs and Mixologists Abuzz About Honey: Honey Food and Beverage Summit

The National Honey Board recently convened an elite group of chefs and mixologists at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in San Antonio for Honey Summit 2013—Food & Beverage, an event designed to inspire cross-menu innovation using honey.

A dozen expert culinarians participated in the two-and-a-half-day immersion event that featured honey varietal tastings, food and beverage demonstrations, panel discussions and hands-on production and innovation sessions in the CIA’s famed kitchens.

The Honey Summit kicked off with “Honey 101,” a primer on honey, led by CIA Chef Instructor Almir Da Fonseca. The session included honey’s various forms, including liquid, whipped and in the comb, as well as solid forms such as granules. The chefs became increasingly animated as they discussed the possibilities of essentially utilizing honey “nose-to-tail.”

“I was happy to learn that honey comes in several forms,” says Larry Leibowitz of Guckenheimer Enterprises. “The whipped variety has a great function in baking and pastry. The granular honey is great for beverages as well. It can be used to rim the glass of a cocktail or added to a parfait for color and texture.” The chefs also learned about honey’s impressive functionality, including its inherent humectant, emulsive and antimicrobial properties.

Barry Lofton of Joe’s Crab Shack summed up his experience by saying, “The Honey Summit was an excellent experience. It really broadened my horizons to the nuances between all of the varietals of honey and what we could do with them in our cooking, and how we can use it to enhance the flavors of the food we prepare.”

”I think I took honey for granted before coming here,” added Guckenheimer’s Larry Leibowitz. “After learning a little more from the group of chefs we worked with, it was amazing to see how versatile honey is.”

The food and beverage-focused Honey Summit ended with everyone in high spirits, eager to apply their new knowledge about honey in their own operations. Chipotle’s Tatiana Perea was already off and running, headed back to New York City with plans to serve several honey inspired menu items at a VIP dinner the following day. The National Honey Board anticipates ongoing honey food and beverage innovation coming out of the Honey Summit.

Scenes from the National Honey Board’s Food and Beverage Summit