SBJ/April 7-13, 2014/In Depth

Octagon division feasts on the culinary possibilities

When Octagon Culinary was launched in January, Caryl Chinn was hired to lead the agency’s new division. Chinn was formerly an executive director of the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, a vice president of Karlitz & Co., president of her own consulting company, and special events director for Bon Appetit magazine. She spoke with SportsBusiness Journal reporter Chris Botta about the convergence of food and sports and shared some of her own culinary favorites.

As someone with such a deep culinary events background, what do you see as the opportunities within the sports landscape?
CHINN: The opportunities are immense. Sports and food are both universal. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, we can reach people through their love of food and sports. I’m excited to help Octagon and our clients grow
the existing culinary events in our portfolio and to develop new events. Foodies and sports fans are incredibly passionate. When we successfully combine sports and food at events that leverage passion, the sum is greater than the parts.

What can the sports world learn from the culinary industry?
CHINN: The culinary industry is incredibly charitable. It probably stems from that desire to be hospitable and take care of people, but chefs are educating themselves on things like nutrition, sustainability and hunger relief — and they’re taking action.

What is your favorite food, and what’s the best food you’ve ever had at a sporting event?
Caryl Chinn will guide Octagon’s efforts to enhance existing food events and create new ventures.
Photo by: Octagon

CHINN: My favorite is french fries. At a sports event, it’s a tie between a pimento cheese sandwich at The Masters and sushi prepared by Matsuhisa Nobu at the Legends Club at Yankee Stadium.

Name the best meal you’ve ever had, and the one restaurant you could visit at this moment if you had the chance.
CHINN: Impossible to select just one top meal, but my most memorable was dinner at the now-closed El Bulli by chef Ferran Adria in Roses, Spain. Where would I eat now if I could? Ultraviolet in Shanghai.

And now the crucial dilemma of our times in this era of social media — do you post pictures of your meals to Twitter and Instagram?
CHINN: I do, but I try to be selective. And at the restaurant, I don’t use a flash so I don’t disturb other diners.

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