The invite-only Summit ideas festival brings together a global community of creators, from entrepreneurs to artists to academics, for three days of talks, performances, wellness sessions, art installations and immersive experiences. At its 2018 flagship event in downtown Los Angeles Nov. 2-5, the team amped up the culinary experience for attendees with a dedicated programming track, pop-up events, appearances from industry heavyweights and customized brand integrations with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, The Glenlivet and Fords Gin.
Culinary is one of Summit’s six key pillars of experience. “Food has this tremendous power to bring people together,” says Alex Weaver, marketing manager for Summit. “So, around all the programming, the talks, the performances, culinary is that anchor element keeping people energized. It’s a place to connect and take those conversations that they’re having around some of the themes that play at the event to the table.”
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The festival reimagined the culinary program in a number of ways. An outdoor, 800-seat food court that serviced meals throughout the day and dinners curated by celebrity chefs served as the centerpiece. A night market featuring pop-ups from local street food vendors accompanied evening entertainment. And full buyouts of local restaurants allowed collaboration with owners and chefs to create menus and programs that best highlight the establishment’s products—and created space for customized brand integrations.
Take an eight-course, plant-based Kaiseki dinner by Jasmine Shimoda, chef of L.A.-based restaurant Jewel, for Mercedes-Benz’s electric mobility brand EQ. Another was a hospitality-suite takeover of downtown’s Preux & Proper restaurant by The Glenlivet, featuring workshops, tastings and dining events across the festival’s three days.
Fords Gin’s Tiki Bar Experience
With a key theme of the event’s culinary programming being anti-waste and food sourcing, Fords Gin saw an opportunity to collaborate with the festival to promote a message of sustainability. The brand threw a pop-up craft cocktail event at the Belasco Theater for Summit’s closing night party in partnership with U.K.-based Trash Tiki, a bartender group that creates cocktails from upcycled waste products. “Super Tiki Wasteland Paradise” featured gin-based craft cocktails, recycled glassware and tiki art made from Summit’s waste products.
“What Trash Tiki does so beautifully is talk about how can you get the most out of everything that you’re using, whether it’s taking the pits from an avocado and using those to create an Orgeat syrup, or repurposing leftover pastry to create something that can go into a drink,” says Sharon Bronstein, marketing director for The 86 Co., creators of Fords Gin.
And when it comes to cocktails, they, too, should be sustainable. “At Summit you get a lot of people that are change agents looking into what’s next and how we as a community can be better,” says Bronstein. “Much like we’re looking at nose-to-tail cooking, the same is true in the way that we enjoy beverages. We have to start looking at the environmental impact of going out and having a good time because it does add up.”
Fords Gin had partnered with Trash Tiki a couple years ago on a 20-city U.S. tour where the team would invade an establishment—a cocktail lounge or even a ramen restaurant—for one night only and create a cocktail menu out of waste, raw materials or unsold products on-site. When Summit approached Fords Gin, it was an occasion to get the “Trash Fam” back together.
To get the right look and feel, the brand worked with a glasscutter to refashion leftover bottles of Fords Gin into glassware used for cocktails and with Superchief Gallery to repurpose cartons, bottles and even cardboard to integrate branding, messaging (“God Save The Gin” and “Drink Like You Give A Fuck” did the trick), making it up to be a true, tiki trash bar.
“Summit was an opportunity for attendees at the conference to get to know our brand by seeing something that we really believe in,” Bronstein says. “It’s certainly a loftier link than doing something that’s explicitly brand-focused, but for us it’s a message that we feel comes back to our brands.” Agency: Parade Agency, Los Angeles.