Excitement Builds for This Year's RCA Conference
Things are getting a little hectic and more than exciting as the CuliNex team prepares for conference and trade show season! In the upcoming weeks, you’ll see our team scattered to the four winds attending events in Seattle, Denver, Anaheim, and beyond!
Research Chefs Association
CuliNex is a huge supporter of the Research Chefs Association’s Annual Conference, and with good reason. Each year, culinologists, research chefs and food scientists from food companies around the country gather to discuss food and technology trends, methods and innovations. Last year, we were treated to 4 days New Orleans and the RCA pulled out all the stops to show attendees the rich culture, wonderful food and unparalleled hospitality New Orleans has to offer. NOLA is one of my favorite cities and I was lucky enough to get a few hours to show other members of our team around the city, pointing out my favorite spots, ensuring everyone got a good strong daiquiri on Bourbon Street, their first taste of beignets and chicory coffee and a visit Lafayette Cemetery for a little ghost hunting before we had to get to business.
The conference kicked off in the Warehouse district at Generations Hall where food, libation and music poured out of the hall and onto the street where RCA members were treated to local food and jazz. The conference continued with its focus on new innovation during key note speeches and the educational breakout sessions. Chef John Besh, a NOLA native was onboard as our keynote speaker. He brought us his perspective on the importance of giving back not only to the community we work in but also our local neighborhoods and cities. It was inspiring to hear him talk about the great works his Besh Foundation is doing with Chef’s Move.
The break-out sessions last year had a little something for everyone with workshops on everything from artisan cheeses and middle-eastern flavors to equipment innovations and marketing strategies. Our own Mark Crowell paired up with Michelle Barry of Centric Brand Anthropology, a CuliNex strategic partner, to discuss the importance of the synergy between product development, brand positioning and consumer experience in a session called “From Unarticulated Consumer Need to Products that Rock.”
Last year’s Conference also represented a milestone for CuliNex – our ten year anniversary! We showed our love and gratitude for all the RCA has done for us and our industry by hosting a booth, complete with champagne and local oyster shooters to celebrate with our colleagues. At the end of the conference, we all left with a stronger team bond, a new (or renewed) love of New Orleans and freshly “sharpened saws” to tackle new R&D challenges back at our home kitchen in Seattle.
This year, we’re trading in beads and jazz for snow boards and rock and roll as we hit Denver, Co., March 8-11. We’re equally as excited about visiting the Mile High City as we were to visit New Orleans last year and Portland the year before. We won’t have the whole team with us this year but Katie, Mark and I will be on hand for all the fun, learning and comradery we see each year at the RCA Conference. This year’s conference is boasting over 25 break-out sessions, demos, speeches and tastings along with the usual world class speakers including this year’s keynote speaker, restaurateur, and celebrity chef Brian Voltaggio. A regular highlight of each RCA conference is its always well-attended Expo, where some of the country’s best food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers will show off their latest offerings on Thursday. If you’re attending, be sure to stop by the White Oak Frozen Food booth and say ‘hi’, where we’ll be serving up Baja Veggie Sliders with Tomatillo Relish and Jalapeno Crema.
We’re always excited to get out of the kitchen and work, learn, ideate and celebrate with our extended family in the food development world and this year will be no different. If you’re attending the RCA Conference in Denver this year, please do keep a look out for us, grab us for a drink or cup of coffee and let’s continue the conversation, celebration and collaboration the RCA offers us each year.