I was invited to participate in this experience with Hot Pockets, for which they provided full travel expenses, meals and accommodations and other premiums, however my opinions are completely my own and I have not been compensated to publish positive or negative reviews of the event or products associated with my experience.
Back at the beginning of May I had the chance, along with some other great bloggers, to spend a day at Nestlé Prepared Foods learning about all things Hot Pockets. (That’s a perk of being a part of the very first Hot Pockets Blogger Advisory Board!)
Our experience began with an evening meal at Chinato, a local restaurant in downtown Cleveland, where we were treated to a meal created jointly by Zack Bruell the owner of Chinato and his team, as well as Lucien Vendôme, who is the director of Culinary Innovations at Nestlé.
The entire menu was inspired by Hot Pockets. So imagine each course being “dough” wrapped around….well a bunch of other yummy foods!
We even got to personally meet Zack Bruell and thank him and his staff for working with Lucien on this special meal for us, and we each received a bottle of one of his new Olive Oils that are now being sold in stores.
I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to Lucien during the meal and had a great time chatting with him about his culinary history and his career with Nestlé.
Early the next morning we were whisked away to one of the Nestlé Prepared Foods buildings. You know it’s going to be a fun day when you walk in and you’re greeted by mounds of candy.
Seriously, can you imagine going to work in a building that has a Wonka machine?!
We were going to have a full day of learning ahead of us, and Nestlé knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…and boy oh boy, there’s nothing like eating breakfast at a place where they know food.
Here are a few things that were on the breakfast menu.
It was a humbling surprise to have Frank Higgins, President and CEO of Nestlé Prepared Foods, take some time out and welcome us while we were at breakfast and share some about the Nestlé company with us.
And then we spent the morning with the Hot Pockets team, this creative group of people gave us a behind the scene look at these frozen hot sandwiches. And let me tell you there are good things in store for this brand. If you’re a Hot Pockets fan you have much to look forward to. But that’s something I’ll let you know about in future posts.
Then we took a short walk downstairs and got to participate in a taste testing of various Hot Pockets flavors. (*public service announcement – if you haven’t tried the Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets Sandwich, and you like pickles and mustard and ham, go buy a package. Eat. Enjoy. Repeat. I’m stocking up on these when we are in our new home in Texas. They are THAT good.)
Some of us thought this was our lunch but surprise, after we completed the task of sampling it was…
Lunch time! (Most of us were probably still full from breakfast, never mind the samplings!) but you can’t resist eating more when you get to dress up like a chef and MAKE YOUR OWN HOT POCKETS!
This was a really neat thing to do. Paired up in groups (with my pal Liz, and a new friend Jennifer), we had one of the Nestlé chefs help us out in preparing our own Hot Pockets.
I’m going to admit that I was a little too zealous in how much filling I wanted to put in mine. If there were such a thing as Hot Pockets remedial classes, I think I would have enrolled. But in the end I did get one to turn out, and if I do say so myself, it was delicious.
More learning and discussions went on in the afternoon about Hot Pockets (surprised that we all stayed awake after all that food? Me too!). And then we got a surprise visitor, none other than Herbie Hot Pocket came to visit us! Alas, I was too busy making new friends and chatting with the Nestlé Hot Pockets team to get my picture taken with him, but let me assure you even though he’s homies with Snoop Dog, he’s as down to earth as they come (even with that luxurious cape).
And then our time at Nestlé had come to an end. I left with a lot more knowledge about the Nestlé corporation as a whole, a new appreciation for Hot Pockets and those who work on the brand team, some new friends, a full stomach and a whole lot of ‘fun size’ candy bars in my carry on……
And it’s a good thing I snagged all that candy as I walked out the door too, because I ended up staying one more night in Cleveland because of bad weather in Chicago where I would have missed my connecting flight home. I can’t complain about one more night in a king sized bed to myself, with Laffy Taffy and Herbie to keep me company though…
Make sure you keep checking back through the rest of this year as I get the chance as part of the Hot Pockets Advisory Board to share news about Hot Pockets with you!