Although the Big Easy is still on the comeback from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina a year and a half ago, the city is benefiting from a revived interest in it as one of the best places in American to gather food experts of all stripes. The annual Research Chefs Assn. conference and trade show, to be held a mere two weeks after Mardis Gras, promises to continue the celebration of joie de vivre.
This year's annual Research Chefs Assn. conference and trade show will be held in New Orleans, March 8-11.
Fittingly, the theme for this year's March 8-11 gathering is "Culinology on the rise."
Centered at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, more than 1,000 U.S. and international attendees are expected this year. The tradeshow portion, featuring more than 120 exhibitors, will occur March 9 noon-5 p.m. at the nearby Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in Hall B.
The show will open with keynoter Douglas Brooks, president and CEO of Brinker International, Dallas. The 30-year-old Brinker company owns a $4 billion (annual sales) national restaurant conglomerate that includes such casual dining leaders as Chili's Grill & Bar, Romano's Macaroni Grill, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and Maggiano's Little Italy.
General sessions will be diverse and informative, with some appropriate local flavor, beginning with "The evolution of Cajun and Creole cuisine." This panel session will be moderated by Michael Batterberry, founding editor and publisher of Food Arts magazine.
John Folse, former RCA president and owner of John Folse & Co., will host "Louisiana's story through culture and cuisine." With roots that plumb deep into the RCA and even deeper into New Orleans, Chef Folse will bring his insight into the centuries-old pas de deux of the region's unique marriage between food and culture.
|RCA Conference Headquarters
1100 Johnson Ferry Rd., Suite 300
Atlanta, Ga. 30342
Of the breakout sessions, you'll want to hit "Lipids: The skinny on dietary fats." The shift away from trans fats means challenges to processors and restaurateurs that will begin at the bench. Presented by Tom Tiffany and Brian Yager of Decatur, Ill.-based ADM Co., the session will cover basic structures and functions of lipids, the impact of fatty acid compositions and new technologies for lipids substitutions in trans-free applications.
Professional development sessions not to be missed include "Just tell me what you want: How chefs and scientists can understand each other better," focusing on how to better navigate the waters of communication between culinarians and scientists in the workplace. This session is presented by Jonathan Griebel Sr., food technologist at General Mills Inc., and Christopher Keegan, research chef for Degussa Flavors & Fruit Systems.
Lest one forget so much of New Orleans' culinary roots are African, it's worth taking in "A taste of Africa: Who we are and why we eat what we eat," by Rochelle Schaetzl of Nando's Chickenland.
Can one swim upstream toward conformity? That question is to be answered in "Working inside the box: Creativity within strategic parameters," a panel session moderated by Steven Goldstein of FOODthinque, the New York-based strategy development group for retail and foodservice manufacturers and multi-unit operations.
Surfing the other side of conformity are two promising sessions: "Baking myth busters," by Klaus Tenbergen from California State University at Fresno, Jeffrey Cousminer of Firmenich Inc. and Dolf De Rovira of Flavor Dynamics Inc.; and "Counterintuitive culinary systems and methods," a session by forward-thinking culinologist and chef-provocateur (can you say "photosushi?") Homaro Cantu of Moto Restaurant in Chicago.
Finally, dessert … that is, "The evolution of dessert: Experiential cuisine," presented by Will Goldfarb of Room 4 Dessert, New York. Goldfarb, known for his cutting-edge creations, will show us what lies beyond the edges of the end-of-dinner experience.
Chef/Culinary Center Profiles
Edlong Dairy Flavors Corp.
Harold Plein is the corporate chef at Edlong Dairy Flavors. Founded in 1914, the company is well-known for its extensive line of concentrated dairy flavors which includes many varied profiles of cheese, butter, milk & cream, cultured, sweet dairy and functional dairy flavors.
Edlong utilizes the team approach when serving customer needs, and Chef Harold lends his expertise to the sales, marketing, R&D and technical solutions groups. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Chicago's Northeastern Illinois University and holds an additional degree in applied science and culinary arts from Kendall College, Chicago. He is a member of the Research Chefs Assn., the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Culinary Federation.
Plein's experience involves three years with the Keebler Co. as a product development technician prior to a six year tour with the Springfield, Mo.-based Turover/Straus Group as a "techno-culinary" associate specializing in new product development. Since joining Edlong in 2002, Chef Harold has worked closely with product developers and chefs both domestically and globally.
Edlong Dairy Flavors' knowledge and expertise in developing distinctive profiles that enhance the flavors in favorite food applications has been recognized by their winning Food Processing's Reader's Choice Award for Dairy Flavors and Ingredients for the past four years. The company's highly skilled team of flavorists has extensive experience in developing flavors that are superior in taste and mouthfeel. Customers can sample from a wide array of standard flavors or customize.
With first-hand knowledge of dairy flavors and building blocks, consumer trends and cultural preferences, Edlong enjoys the ability to support food manufacturers by developing exceptional products with improved flavor stability using the latest in technologies. Edlong's flavors excel in many applications requiring authentic tastes, heat stability and cost savings. Baked goods, non-carbonated beverages, cheese analogs, dressings, sauces, soups, snack foods and masking of enhanced foods are just a few of the areas where Edlong proves that service truly is a lifestyle.
Edlong Dairy Flavors Corp.
225 Scott St.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Archer Daniels Midland Co.
In ADM's state-of-the-art culinary facilities, our chefs explore the possibilities in your foods. A broad range of advanced equipment lets us apply our expertise to virtually any application. Our culinary team carries among them decades of experience in both the culinary and research worlds. From training at the Culinary Institute of America; Le Cordon Bleu Académie, Paris, and the University of Maryland, College Park, plus time in some of the finest foodservice establishments in the country, they'll put their expertise to work in your formulations. Led by Brian Yager, Manager Culinary R&D, the team's experience includes nutrition, dietetics and food science. Our chefs bring unique vision to their work. Whether your parameters are based on health claims, nutrition, cost or ingredients, they'll find the right "recipe" for you.
"Our culinary facilities feature the latest technology and restaurant-quality equipment. We can replicate conditions in virtually any setting and create solutions that work," said Yager. Combined with a portfolio of hundreds of ingredients, our team blends culinary art and science to achieve the taste, texture, and appearance you're seeking. Then, working with our sensory experts, we can test foods to provide usable data before you go to market. Working with many of ADM's ingredients, the culinary team provides solutions by developing prototypes that address the needs of our customers. Furthermore, the team is able to utilize their collective experience and knowledge to build on flavors by using conventional techniques, plus ingredients available to food manufacturers. In addition, the Team has the ability to be "out-of-the-box" thinkers when necessary.
"We're ready to help you bring products to market quickly and more cost effectively. Whether that means developing new formulations or refining current ones, we can find a solution that suits your needs," says Yager.
ADM draws on its resources -- state-of-the-art facilities, hundreds of ingredients and vast culinary expertise -- to help you meet today's consumer demands and envision tomorrow's needs for foods that are both nutritious and delicious.
4666 Faries Pkwy.
Decatur, IL 62526
Cargill Meat Solutions
Cargill's new Culinary Innovation Center strengthens its commitment to innovation, as it provides chefs and food scientists with a new area for collaborating with customers to create new products to help customers' businesses succeed. The 4,700-square-foot center is the link that connects basic science to consumer needs.
The Culinary Innovation Center is the newest addition to Cargill Meat Solutions' Research and Development facility in Wichita, Kan. Home to corporate research, design and product development resources. The facility began operating in the early 1990s to provide culinary solutions for its customers. Today, it is where some of the world's best-kept foodservice and retail secrets are created.
Leading the creation is Chef Stephen Giunta, director of the Culinary Innovation Center and one of 60 certified master chefs in the United States. He is joined with two other corporate chefs and 27 food scientists at Cargill. Together, they examine research about the needs and wants of consumers and customers, and apply those insights to create unique menu items to help their customers succeed. Their collaboration has led to the creation of hundreds of menu items and grocery products for Cargill customers around the world.
"We get excited every day to work with our customers to conceive and visualize the next best culinary concept," explains Giunta. "We may improve an existing product or create a new one from scratch, but at the end of the development process, customers want products that are in line with current trends and that will work in their own kitchen, at prices they can afford. This new center is dedicated to meeting those needs.
Cargill Meat Solutions
151 N. Main St.
Wichita, Kan. 67202
International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.
Research chef David Horrocks originally planned on a career as a pilot until a dishwashing job at a restaurant at the age of 14 opened his eyes to the world of food and cooking. Pursuing this new career path, he gained practical experience as an apprentice in Restaurant d'Vijff Vlieghen in the Netherlands and other restaurants in North America. But his plans to eventually open a restaurant of his own were waylaid when, while earning his BS in Culinary Nutrition at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., Horrocks served an internship at IFF Inc. The experience opened his eyes to a career as a research chef in the flavor industry. At the same time, his talent and dedication to linking the culinary arts with food science were recognized as a valuable addition to IFF's expanding CulinEssence team and to the industry as a whole and he officially joined IFF in 2003. At 26, David is the youngest member of the team based in the North American Culinary Center in South Brunswick, N.J.
Horrocks enjoys developing products with challenging parameters. At home, this avid skier and ice carver loves to cook for himself, a treat he missed when still working in restaurants. With a specialty in culinary nutrition, he is particularly fascinated with preparing highly nutritious "power food" for the every day eater.
Led by Master Chef Florian Webhofer, IFF's CulinEssence program is a creative combination of cutting-edge flavor technology and global culinary arts that takes food to a new level by delivering authentic global culinary taste for customers' food products. CulinEssence works in concert with flavor creation and flavor technology. The three disciplines work closely together to create flavors that result in consumer delight in any part of the world, helping IFF better service the needs of global customers.
The program's mission is to provide for IFF customers flavor systems that deliver market advantage through culinary flavor application and product prototype development and to build closer ties to flavor experts both inside and outside IFF.
IFF International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.
150 Docks Corner Road
Dayton, N.J. 08810