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    Blueberry Council Taps Celeb Chefs to Spur Spring Sales

    Recent events included cooking contest, ‘blueberry boot camp’

    The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, based in Folsom, Calif., tapped some of Los Angeles’ top chefs and food celebrities for a recent event that challenged kitchen experts to use blueberries to enhance the flavor, nutrition and intrigue of various dishes.

    The March 16 event featured eight chefs, including “The Biggest Loser” host Alison Sweeney, who competed in teams to come up with the most creative and easy-to-replicate blueberry dish.

    “The ripple effect of an event like this is astounding,” said chef Andrew Hunter of the Lifetime competition series “Supermarket Superstar,” who emceed the challenge. “In one afternoon, we opened the eyes of a dozen food influencers and more than a million consumers to the endless culinary possibilities blueberries offer. Expect to see more creative blueberry dishes show up on restaurant and home menus as a result.”

    In another recent blueberry event, 16 of the foodservice industry’s heavy hitters joined the Blueberry Council at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in the Napa Valley for a “Blueberry Boot Camp” on March 7-9.

    Executive chefs from Panera Bread, Wendy’s, Applebee’s, Hilton, IHOP, Disneyland and Google, among others, experienced three days of education and experimentation with blueberries. Meanwhile, four renowned food bloggers delivered the experience digitally to approximately 1.7 million consumers via social media, building blueberry awareness and interest.

    “Chefs and blueberries have a win-win relationship,” said Mark Villata, executive director of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. “By working with chefs to elevate the blueberry’s profile, we impact high-volume purchases and send more consumers into stores to buy. And by incorporating more blueberries into their menus, chefs profit while reminding customers there are ways to make healthier choices without compromising on taste.”

    The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is an agriculture promotion group, representing blueberry growers and packers in North and South America who market their blueberries in the United States.

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