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AFM opens Culinary Innovation Center in Dallas, will launch Avocado University in early 2018

DALLAS -- Avocados from Mexico is bringing the magic of Michoacan to the eighth floor of its headquarters, here, with the grand opening of its Culinary Innovation Center.

AFM held a reception Sept. 20 to commemorate the opening, where Chef Mark Garcia, director of foodservice marketing for AFM, and Chef Kent Rathbun, a four-time James Beard Award nominee and owner of Abacus restaurant, delighted several dozen avocado industry dignitaries and others with creative culinary dishes inspired by avocados from Mexico.luAlvaro Luque, president of Avocados from Mexico, gives his welcoming address at the Sept. 20 grand opening reception of AFM’s Culinary Innovation Center in Dallas.

The center is part of an expansion of AFM's office space and features a state-of-the-art open-air kitchen that has ample room for meetings and events, and is adjacent to the AFM offices.

In his welcoming remarks, Alvaro Luque, president of Avocados from Mexico, told the crowd that the celebration in part marks the 20th anniversary of Mexican avocados being granted access to the United States.

"There was a lot of concern by members of the U.S. agriculture industry that we were going to destroy the country," Luque said. "But it was quite the opposite, as we have helped to increase demand for the entire category. It has been good for everyone."

IMG 9990Ramon Paz, chairman of Avocados from Mexico, cuts the AFM-inspired cake at the Sept. 20 grand opening celebration of AFM’s Culinary Innovation Center in Dallas, while Chef Kent Rathbun and Chef Mark Garcia, director of foodservice marketing for AFM, cheer him on.Garcia said the main pillars of the center are culinary excellence, avocado education, and building relationships and partnerships. He said the educational portion of the center would begin in January with the opening of Avocado University, where chefs and registered dieticians will have the opportunity to attend seminars and gain continuing education credits, while learning about the versatility of the popular fruit.

"Our idea was to create an event showcase and conduct high-level executive meetings followed by a great dinner, and with this center we have created the perfect venue for that," said Garcia.

Garcia said the center is a little more than a year in the making, and everyone is beyond pleased with the outcome.

"The AFM board couldn't be happier with the result," he said. "We should have done this a lot sooner."

"I could not be more proud of what we created here," Luque told The Produce News. "It started more than a year ago, and we are very excited to bring Mexico to the U.S. in this way, and to help chefs learn about Mexican avocados and inspire them to use the fruit in their creations."

Luque said that chefs have been very responsive to the concept of Avocado University.

"Now we have to deliver, and we will," he said. "We feel like we have created something very special here."