RCA Honors Culinology Achievements

More than 500 research chefs, food scientists and other food industry professionals gathered in Savannah this spring at the Research Chefs Association’s annual awards luncheon. Three individuals and four companies were feted for their contributions to culinology, the association’s term for the blending of culinary arts and food science.

Jacques Pépin (at right), chef and author, earned the RCA Lifetime Achievement award for his long list of accomplishments, which began as a small child working in his parents’ restaurant, Le Pelican. At the age of 13, he began a formal French apprenticeship. From 1956 to 1958, Pépin was the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. He moved to the United States in 1959 to become the head chef at New York's Le Pavilion restaurant. Venturing into new career paths in the culinary world, he took a position at the Howard Johnson Company as director of research and new development, which he held for over 10 years. This position taught him about mass production, marketing, food chemistry, and American food tastes which are all important aspects of Culinology. In addition, he has co-hosted a PBS cooking series with Julia Child, written several cookbooks and is a former columnist for The New York Times.

Shirley Corriher, food writer and syndicated columnist, received RCA's Gary Holleman Award, created to recognize individuals who have demonstrated excellence in the field of communication via the Internet, print publications, television media, public speaking or other forms of media. Corriher has written a regular column in The Los Angeles Times Syndicate's Great Chefs Series since 1998 and was a contributing editor. In addition, she has written a regular column for Fine Cooking since 1994. Ms. Corriher has also been a research biochemist, a working chef, and a consultant.

Robert E. Rich, senior founder and chairman of the board of Rich’s, one of the nation’s largest family-owned frozen food manufacturers, accepted the RCA Pioneer Award. He has been recognized as one of American industry’s most successful innovators and entrepreneurs, and has practiced the principles of culinology since his company’s inception in 1945. Since then, Rich’s has grown exponentially, with more than 2000 products available in over 75 countries. RCA’s panel of judges affirmed, “Robert Rich is the epitome of success and many of his accomplishments are attributed to his continual support and practice of culinology as a discipline.”

Ariake, USA received the RCA Culinology Innovation Award for Functional Ingredient Innovation for development and production of its Wild Mushroom Base with Truffles. Ariake’s corporate executive chef, Eric Lynch, with help from consultant Michael Morrison of FlavorChefs, were able to develop this dynamic multi-layered mushroom and black truffle flavor base to target upscale tastes and quality while maintaining the accuracy of a “gold standard” restaurant recipe to produce in large quantities. This year’s finalist was National Starch’s Signature Secrets Culinary Thickener.
Sweet Street Desserts' winner: Chocolate Pyramid Anglaise

Hershey’s won the RCA Culinology Innovation Award for Retail Innovation for its Swoops candy line, a breakthrough trend in the candy bar industry. Shaped like canister chips, Swoops are packaged in a circular enclosure, which includes three on-the-go cups, each containing six slices of chocolate. Swoops are available in four popular Hershey flavors: Hershey's milk chocolate, Reese's peanut butter, Almond Joy and York peppermint. This year’s finalist was HJ Heinz’s EZ Marinader.

Sweet Street Desserts took home the RCA Culinology Innovation Award for Foodservice Innovation for its Chocolate Pyramid Anglaise (at right), an elegant addition to Sweet Street Dessert’s European Individual line. The dark chocolate mousse pyramid surrounds a soft white chocolate anglaise center that pours out when cut and is finished with a dark chocolate and white chocolate splatter. Each pyramid comes frozen and individually wrapped for convenience. This year’s finalist was Rich’s Flan.

Aramark won the RCA Menu Innovation Award for its Rolettos, a unique preparation combining the ease and portability of the wrap sandwich with the popularity and continuing demand for pizza. Judges agreed that Aramark Rolettos won because of their ability to partner with key manufacturers to identify food products that addressed limited labor concerns and met the increased demands for quality food offerings.

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