Monday, May 20, 2013

Sabra Tastemakers



Two weeks ago I was invited to Richmond, VA to participate in a program initiated by the Sabra Dipping Company, the makers of Sabra hummus and many other tasty dipping and cooking products. This program is called Tastemakers. Food bloggers & foodies from diverse parts of the United States are invited to Richmond to visit Sabra's factory, learn about Sabra's products, what goes into making them, & why Sabra is the number one hummus producer in the United States.


Joining me on this incredible whirlwind trip were Bree Hester: http://bakedbree.com/  , Amie Valpone: http://thehealthyapple.com/ , Laura Fuentes: http://www.supergluemom.com/ , Brandi: http://www.branappetit.com/ , Vianney Rodriguez: http://sweetlifebake.com , & Heather Hoffman: http://spicestationsilverlake.com/ 


I suggest that you check out each one of these lady's websites. Each in their own way does a great service and you'll be missing out if you don't give them each a look.

After sitting on the tarmac for over an hour in Philly on my tiny rubber band plane we took off and my adventure began. After landing in Richmond I was met at the airport by Stephanie from Seymour PR who drove me to the hotel and got me situated there as well.

An hour later I was showered, dressed and in the lobby meeting the other Tastemakers. What an incredibly diverse group of individuals we were. Different backgrounds, different parts of the country but all drawn to Richmond by our amazing love of all things Sabra. We boarded a party bus and headed off to Can Can Brasserie where we got to know each other and had a most amazing dinner. 


The next morning our rocket fire adventure began with a 30 minute ride to the Sabra factory in Colonial Heights, VA where we had a brief introduction to Sabra's history & story which provided some great information on how a small upstart company with vision and a dream has become America's number one hummus producer.


 


Next we geared up to tour Sabra's production facility. Hardhats, lab coats, & goggles were the uniform of the day. Let me tell you, I was in hummus heaven! Sabra has a state of the art production facility that is amazing to say the least. The factory has been LEED certified, meaning it's a "green" facility. All of the chickpeas used to make Sabra's hummus are grown on chickpea farms in Idaho & Washington. Their factory runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week & in an 8 hour shift the facility produces 60  tons of hummus! Let me tell you that we were all in awe of what goes on behind the scenes of this amazing production facility. It's funny because you go to the store, buy your Sabra hummus, & take it home. End of story. Except it's not. Now I, and the other Tastemakers have seen the process of hummus production from beginning to end & have a new appreciation for what goes into making the greatest hummus on earth. 


Following our factory tour we returned to our conference room where we were each presented with an unfinished chip and dip bowl that we were going to paint. Horror of horrors! Now my un-artistic side will manifest itself! In an effort to keep it simple, I painted my bowl olive green, threw in some colored dots, and finished with an "Eat More Hummus" slogan on my bowl. Hopefully when it's fired and glazed in the kiln it will look a bit brighter than it does here. Although I did have fears at first, this was a fun activity to do.


Our next activity on this frenzied day was a product tasting of all things Sabra. Hummus, Greek Yogurt Dips, Salsa, Guacamole, & Mediterranean Salads. It was Sabra-tastic to say the least! 


Each product was incredible, fresh and so tasty but by far my favorite was Carribean Mango Hummus! I'll bet you've never heard of it! That's because it's a new product that's slated for release in June. This hummus had an amazing taste. Sweet mango, a little pepper, & the creamy goodness of fresh hummus is an incredible combination of flavors that's sure to be a hit with consumers this summer!


Following this product tasting we went into the kitchen of Sabra Executive Research Chef MaryDawn Wright. This was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to. Chef Wright is one of my hero's. I have followed her blog, watched her videos and now I was standing in her kitchen. I was like a kid in a candy store! Chef Wright is an amazingly personable lady who brings warmth to those in her presence. She explained how she researches new products for Sabra and what her daily routine entails. Chef Wright created an amazing lunch for us consisting of lamb kebabs, roasted eggplant with hummus, &  talbouleh. It was an incredible lunch filled with great conversation about all things food!

Chef Wright then surprised us with dessert. She created a hummus cake! Yes, I said hummus cake! It was delicious! It's amazing what hummus can be used for. So versatile and tasty!


Following lunch we returned to our conference room for some more information on Sabra, after which Heather Hoffman from The Spice Station did a presentation on spices, salts, & their uses. Heather is an amazing learned woman and her presentation was very educational. This was very eye opening and in a way brought me back to Turkey when Aleppo Pepper was discussed. More commonly known as Turkish Pepper Flakes, Aleppo is a cooking staple in Turkish homes and restaurants. We each also received an assortment of spices from the Spice Station to take home and experiment with.


Following Heather's presentation we boarded our party bus and headed off to the chickpea fields of Virginia State University where Sabra & VSU are partnering in an effort to grow chickpeas in Virginia. 


As we were told, this presents a difficulty because the humid summers of Virginia are not conducive to growing chickpeas but they are committed to overcoming this issue and bringing chickpea farming to Virginia.


A couple different versions of dried chickpeas.


When our farm tour was over we returned to our hotel for a little rest and relaxation before meeting in the hotel lobby and going to dinner at Lemaire Restaurant in The Jefferson Hotel. 


We laughed, talked, & had an amazing meal where discussed our experiences, each bringing home something new and exciting to share.

The following morning we met in the hotel restaurant, had a nice breakfast, & departed for the airport where we said our goodbyes and returned home to our cities, full of new Sabra knowledge!

Final notes. This was an amazing trip. I learned so much about chickpeas, Sabra, & the entire product line carried by Sabra. This was truly an eye opening experience & hopefully by sharing what I saw and learned, others will be inspired to try Sabra's products and be as bowled over as I am by their amazing fresh flavors and varied tastes. Thanks Sabra for giving me, your number one fan even more reason to preach the Gospel of Sabra.

More information on Sabra and it's products can be found here:
















4 comments:

  1. It was such an amazing time! So glad you were there to share all about your trip.

    brandi

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    1. Brandi ~ It was an incredible experience. To have the opportunity to learn so much in such a short period of time with such knowledgeable bloggers was amazing. I am glad that we got the opportunity to visit Hummus Heaven together.

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  2. Seymour PR ~ Thank you. I am indebted to you, not only for bringing me to Richmond but for holding my hand and guiding through what was an overwhelming experience in 2010 when I went to Turkey. You all are the best and I'll never forget you or what you did for me. You may consider it "just doing your job" but to me you all went beyond and extended to me some thing more than that. You offered me a friendship that that I will always treasure. Rock on with your bad selves!

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