My roles as Darden’s chief supply chain officer and the executive sponsor of the Darden Hispanic Network give me a perfect vantage point for celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.
Our team decided to shine a spotlight on the minority-owned businesses that supply Darden with food and beverages while also helping to strengthen our business — and the Minority Supplier Showcase was born.
Thirteen suppliers representing businesses owned by Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians and women, along with the Coca-Cola Co., presented creative, unique Hispanic food and beverages for our team members at the Restaurant Support Center (RSC) in Orlando, FL. Their creations contained many of the very ingredients they supply to Darden, often used in new ways.
The innovative event was also a great opportunity to celebrate Hispanic culture and food.
The suppliers jumped at the chance to participate and enjoyed their exposure to Darden team members and several of Darden’s top chefs, who joined them in preparing delicious food and beverages with a Latin twist. Olive Garden Chefs Paolo Lafata and Flavio Tagliaferro prepared paella, not their usual fare, and Bahama Breeze Chefs Robert Noren and Peter Olsacher served Mango-Glazed Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Salsa. Other culinary highlights were Duck Confit Tostados with Mole Seasoning, Bacon-Wrapped Plantains with a Honey-Chipotle Glaze, and Tres Leches cake.
More than 500 team members lined up at lunchtime and tried the complimentary samples, got to know the people behind the products and learned about new culinary possibilities.
The participants were Steven Roberts Original Desserts, Taste It Presents, Red Chamber, Raggozino Foods, Woodland Foods, Azar Nut Co, Rudy’s Tortillas, MIC Food, Galasso’s Bakery, Mann’s Fresh Vegetables, Alfa Gamma Seafood Group, Southern Fisheries and Fair Oaks Farms.
Our suppliers take a tremendous amount of pride in their relationships with Darden and in their products being served across our brands. They feel like part of our family, and that’s important to us.
It was exciting to see this showcase come to life. I’m proud of Darden’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and was pleased to highlight the critical role our supplier partners play in our success.