Celebrating its 10th year of promoting the discipline of culinology, the Atlanta-based Research Chefs Assn. (www.culinology.org) is holding its annual conference and tradeshow in Houston March 9-12 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. With a conference slogan of "Two pasts, one future," the RCA continues its mission of blending of culinary arts and food science for food innovation.
In addition to a table-top trade show, this year's anniversary show promises a packed schedule of great presenters, including such luminaries as food science whiz Shirley Corriher and Michael Batterberry of Food Arts magazine.
Interesting looking sessions include "Culinary myth meets reality ... Culinology to the rescue!" (March 9, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), which promises to parse the tenets food crafters have heard for generations. For example, that searing meat seals in juices and why we use unsalted butter in recipes. Jeff Cousminer of Firmenich, Dolf De Rovira of Flavor Dynamics, Eric Sparks of Park 100 Foods and Hinnerk Von Bargen of the Culinary Institute of America will talk you through it.
The Texas trio of Robert Del Grande, Dean Fearing and Stephan Pyles decided to let New Mexico maven Mark Miller into the Lone Star state to discuss "Southwestern cuisine - Past, present and future" (March 11, 8:30-9:45 a.m.), If this session is as good as last year's on the same topic, it'll be one of the tastiest on the RCA menu.
Using Southeast Asia as an example, Chef Robert Danhi will be teaching chefs and food scientists his systematic approach to researching any culture in order to develop more authentic product development practices in "A case study on culinary identity: Southeast Asian flavors (March 10, 9:30-10:45 a.m.).
Lynn Dornblaser, director of Mintel International's Custom Solutions Group, will present "Global health & wellness trends and how they apply to the U.S. market" (March 11, 10:15-11:30 a.m.). With the health and wellness trend growing by leaps and bounds, this session should be mandatory. Dornblaser will focus on the global market and what drives health and wellness in other countries, promising "key lessons that can be learned and concepts that can be applied to products for the U.S. consumer."
"Authenticity: Food and land, kitchen and table" (March 11, 1:45 -3 p.m.) keys into such vital concepts as sustainable practices. Presented by Daphne Derven, director of program and development at Stone Barns Center in New York, this presentation will incorporate research at the center, described as "a living laboratory combining intensive and sustainable agricultural practices."
The artful combination of flavors can push the act of eating from mere sustenance into a transportive and magical experience. "Harnessing the emotional power of taste" (March 10, 9:30-10:45 a.m.) will explore the connection between taste and emotion. Learn how to use this power to lift foods to new levels. Marie Wright of International Flavors and Fragrance Inc. will present.
The trade show promises to be bigger and better than ever, with nearly 150 exhibitors showing off the latest in food ingredient and food product trends. Think of it as your crystal ball to the immediate future of food creations.
Register at the RCA website: www.culinology.org. Attendance is $545 for RCA members and $645 for nonmembers.