This year, at WTCE’s Taste of Travel Theatre, Chef Gerard Bertholon of Cuisine Solutions, the global leader in sous vide, will lead a provoking discussion and sampling session on The Future of Plant-Based Onboard, going beyond the traditional protein preparations.
What’s your name, role and where do you work?
“I’m Gerard Bertholon, the Chief Strategy Officer for Cuisine Solutions. I’ve been with the company since we started in the US thirty-four years ago. I’m in charge of all the research and development and the culinary team where we train our customers on how to use our product.
I’m in charge of the global R&D and culinary division, basing in Sterling, Virginia in the U.S. Cuisine solution has 6 plants, four in the U.S., one in Thailand and one in France.
This gives us the ability to offer solutions and sell the same product all over the world for our customers. And airlines are our perfect customer. They want one solution, not just in one country, but all over the world.”
What are you aiming to convey in your Taste of Travel session in Hamburg in June?
“There are a lot of plant-based products that have come out in the last five years. But, when the plant-based trends started, the products simply weren’t delicious.
Most companies invested a lot of time, us included, on making the product better. So there are definitely plenty of good products out there. But what I hope to achieve is for people to ask more questions. Not just to say “Oh, it’s plant-based, I want to put ‘plant-based’ on my menu.”
Some of these particular products from large company have 20 to 40 ingredients. Whereas, some other companies offer products with just six to eight ingredients, a cleaner label, less fat content et cetera.
I really hope we can explain how some of these products are made. I want airline customers to ask more questions. And to ask more questions, they need to be more educated.”
Why is this an important topic to the industry right now?
The growth of plant-based, not only in the airline industry, but in restaurants, in foodservice and retail is really growing. People want plant-based products for their health, firstly, and also for sustainability. They know the world cannot sustain growing breeding animals because of lack of land, water and resources. So, we have to think differently.
The population is growing, and we need to start thinking about eating differently. And clearly plant-based is much healthier for your body and much better for the environment.
What do you think the key takeaways from your session at Taste of Travel will be?
“The key takeaway is for people to understand what plant-based options there are. Of course, there are plant-based meat alternatives, but people are also looking using more vegetables and being much more creative about creating dishes that are familiar to the customer. And they have to be delicious!
When it started, people used plant-based just for the sake of it, but it wasn’t that good. And there are some great products on the market, but people need to not take just the easy option – a burger – look at other products, shrimp; tuna.
I recently tried some “lamb” and it not only tasted like lamb but smelled like it with all natural flavours. To enhance the experience of the customer, you need to ask more. That’s the only way to get people to move to plant-based, and people are willing to do it.”
What kind of questions do you anticipate people might ask in or after your session – how will you respond?
“The misconception about plant based is that it’s going to be bland, it’s not going to be tasty, or they just don’t know what it is. Some of the labels have so many ingredients that they don’t know what they’re eating. Products are going to talk about saturated fat. For example, a lot of companies add fat to bring flavour.
I want people to ask questions about the quality, about our clean labels and the ingredients list to educate themselves and to make the right choice.
And with the question of airlines and fuel and the effect on the environment, the industry – us included – we have to do a better job. We have to do even more than, say, restaurant chains. I hope people are going to get involved – if everybody’s doing little things, then that’s going to have a really big impact for the environment and the health of their customers.”
How do you think things may develop relating to this topic over the next few years?
“Well, the growth for restaurants has been over 20% of the for the last three years. People are actively asking for these new generation of healthy products for their health, for sustainability, and to deal with cruelty to animals. The growth of the plant-based industry has been huge.
The meat industry, too, is pushing for a big effort to find better ways to raise and slaughter animals to give them a better quality of life with free range and so forth. But there’s real concern from the younger generation; they want to do the right thing.
They want to more integrity, more transparency from the product they are eating. And the airline, restaurants, and the retail industry are responding to that. But the airline industry has really to do more to push the use of plant-based choices on their menus.”
Why do you think taste of travel sessions are worth attending?
“Taste of Travel has been great for the industry. Over the years they have brought together key speakers to talk about trends and new product. For companies like us, who work with top chefs and restaurants, coming here allows us to take some of the trends from sectors who are acting faster, back to the airlines and say, “look at what’s going on the hospitality and retail side!”.
For airlines, sometimes it takes 6-9 months before a product hits the plane. Coming to Taste of Travel means seeing all those new innovations and trends and to start working on them and learning more.
I really enjoy going and listening to all the specialists because you learn, always.”
Any other comments?
“Yes – it’s good to talk about it, but the key thing for most people is tasting the product. So if you want to know more – come and see us. And I hope you enjoyed the show because a lot of people are with innovations.”
To source the ideas, products and solutions and to tantalise the senses to create an onboard experience that dazzles the passenger, register to attend WTCE today.