Once a year, clients of Restaurant Associates are invited to New York City for two days of mingling with chefs, sampling new food trends and learning about up and coming technology. The event, known as The Innovation Summit, is the brainchild of Edward Sirhal, president of the New York-based Compass Group division.
Sirhal rents out a ballroom in the city and invites clients to meet with RA’s staff and take a first-hand look at the menu items and equipment that will become available to them. Sirhal wanted to create an experience similar to Apple’s product releases.
“Once a year, Steve Jobs, and now Tim Cook, would do their roll out,” he says of the buzz-generating, high-production events. “I thought it was really amazing. So I decided two years ago to do our version.”
Restaurant Associates has a diverse client base, which includes Conde Nast, the U.S. Senate and the Georgia Aquarium. The Innovation Summit is an opportunity for ethe clients to network with one another along with RA’s chefs. The most recent Summit, in early December, was attended by 122 of RA’s 160 clients.
Sirhal also uses the opportunity to highlight new partnerships. For instance, RA recently teamed up with one of its most recent clients, the Culinary Institute of America, to showcase Menus of Change, a wellness initiative the culinary school created with the Harvard School of Public Health. Sirhal wanted attendees to see how RA is furthering its pursuing health and sustainability. RA provides the foodservices of the Hyde Park, N.Y.-based institution.