We strive to walk the walk when it comes to food at our research conference. What does it take to serve delicious meals that are compatible with AICR’s recommendations for cancer prevention for the 450 or so attendees?
It takes months of planning, dozens of emails and many phone calls back and forth on menu ideas, serving sizes and special requests. Perhaps the most important ingredient is a chef with the creativity and skill to shape flavorful and beautiful menus within our guidelines – and within our budget.
This year, we began by sitting down with chef Daniel Murray of the Capital Hilton and reviewed the New American Plate and the AICR recommendations for Cancer Prevention (food related):
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
- Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
We have some conference-specific guidelines too. For example, our entrées are poultry or fish and we always need a vegetarian option. In keeping with our New American Plate model, we serve plenty of colorful, non-starchy vegetables, use modest portions of mostly whole grains and dessert is light and small.
This may require the chef to rework his/her usual recipes or even to develop new ones. That’s no easy task – it can take many tries before a recipe meets the visual and flavor tests, as well as the AICR guidelines.
This year, Chef Daniel developed two new dishes especially for AICR – a tangine spiced chicken for the Thursday luncheon and a tofu and walnut stuffed mushroom for the poster reception.
Our favorite step in this process is the tasting. We walk the mile or so to the hotel to survey and taste the options the chef presents. In addition to our guidelines, we consider all the usual things – presentation, acceptability to a wide array of people, variety and of course, how it tastes and whether the flavors work together.
Chef Daniel was right there with us, answering questions, listening to our feedback and offering adjustments as needed. Once we are satisfied, we sign off on the menu.
We look forward to two days of eating well and following AICR recommendations. Tomorrow, for Health-e-Recipe, we’ll be sharing a recipe for a side dish from Thursday’s luncheon. Thursday’s eNews will include a recipe for the dessert for that day. We will post photos and descriptions of our meals from the conference so check back to see what is served. Maybe you’ll get ideas for your own meals!
What’s the best meal you’ve had at a conference?