Robert Irvine addresses changing the eating landscape of this country
Robert Irvine, a Food Network star, world class chef and philanthropist, led a lively discussion along with co-host Leslie Sbrocoo at the recent International Fresh Produce Association Foodservice Conference. Irvine focused on changing the trajectory of how we eat.
Irvine humored the crowd, saying at the age of 11, having joined a home economics course and “after chasing the pretty girls, it was quiche Lorraine and watching people’s enjoyment eating it, that got me into food. From that point forward, food became my life.”
Now, after more than 30 years of experience, Irvine has opened and operates two restaurants, Public House in Las Vegas and Fresh Kitchen in the pentagon — among many other projects.
The whole philosophy behind the brand for Irvine is made up of “fitness, freshness and healthy nutritional products that challenge dieticians across the globe regarding what’s healthy and what’s not healthy,” said Irvine.
“Utilizing technology, for the last four years, I have been using my resources to develop an alternative to foodservice’s A10 can by delivering an alternative to provide a biodegradable pouch for delivering fresh produce to the military that protects upon delivery and lasts longer,” said Irvine. He plans to offer this service to chefs to maintain the opportunity of using fresh produce.
While finding the importance of fitness and how it influences decisions, “working out every day is necessary, as I need to not only keep up with my 20-year-old kids telling me I’m old, but I travel about 150 days a year with the military, and when I arrive to a new location at 1 in the morning, marines want to go for a run at 5 a.m. and I have to be ready,” said Irvine.
Currently, Irvine is on a mission, where everyone is involved with participating in changing the military’s feeding and fitness habits across six forces by taking a holistic approach with fresh produce and exercise.
Irvine explained the development of grab-and-go fresh produce meals based on the unique response of specific job requirements and questionnaires identifying each person’s independent nutritional needs. Whether it is an athlete, doctor or animal, Irvine sees the importance of individualized meal plans.
Knowing where fresh produce comes from is extremely important. “It’s the farmer’s responsibility to educate the consumer,” said Irvine.
Irvine outlined the difficulties chef’s have using fresh produce. “Vegetables have become an afterthought to most chefs,” said Irvine. He encouraged chefs to give non-meat eaters the same option and experience as meat eaters when dining out by developing new skill sets with fresh produce.
“When you take something directly from the ground, it’s something special,” said Irvine. A respect is given and deserved to the time and effort when produce is freshly picked from a farm.
Irvine identified the statistics regarding the lack of fresh produce within the school system and called upon the leaders in attendance within the crowd for contributions on resolutions and offered guidance and his commitment to help resolve the issues.
With the Robert Irvine Foundation, Irvine sees everyone on this planet with a purpose to do something, only knowing what that is, once we achieve it. “Our focus is mental and physical health,” said Irvine. For example, specialty and highly trained animals are provided to service members. Partnering with the creator of the Segway, a specialty wheelchair was developed to climb chairs.
Irvine sees the foodservice landscape changing from fine dining and white table cloth restaurants as people are becoming more careful with their money, although the statistics on eating out haven’t changed much, the environment in how and where people do has. “People don’t want to sit and wait two hours for an opportunity to eat anymore,” said Irvine.
Irvine closed with his final mission by getting like-minded people together, collectively to address changing the feeding the landscape of this country by getting more fresh produce at home, schools and institutions.