Nominations and Elections

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Get to Know the 2024 RCA Board Candidates

There are eight (8) candidates for the 2024 RCA Board. You can vote for no more than seven (7) candidates. From the eight candidates on the slate, the seven candidates who receive the most number of votes will be seated on the 2024 RCA Board of Directors, beginning Spring 2024. 

Please note: Changes cannot be made once you’ve submitted your ballot. Please be sure about your selections before you submit your vote.

Anne Druschitz 


My path to culinary school was inspired by a passion for food and a love of travel. Whenever my family would vacation, my mom’s quest for unique yet affordable souvenirs always started in the grocery store. A week-long culinary camp experience while still in high school cemented my decision to attend culinary school, much to the consternation of my parents. When they found out I was awarded a full academic scholarship to Kendall College, they (mostly) changed their tune. Upon graduation from Kendall, I attended New York University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Food Studies. At the time, I was interested in food writing, as well as food styling and photography.

After finishing my first year at NYU, I learned one of my chef instructors from Kendall had left teaching to go work for an R&D consulting company. Chef Larry Smith became the corporate chef for Turover- Strauss. His knowledge of food science was minimal. The way he described a powdered, instant sauce mix was ‘dust in a cup.’ However, he needed an intern, so I applied for the job. The product variety had me hooked and I loved the challenge of trying to deconstruct textures and flavor profiles with a whole new arsenal of ingredients that I knew next to nothing about. I spent the summer learning about industrial food manufacturing and scouring local grocery stores for random retail gold standard products.

Upon graduating NYU with my bachelor’s degree, I applied for food scientist jobs and writing/publishing jobs. The rejection letters kept coming- needs a journalism degree; needs a food science degree; needs examples of published writing. At the time, going back to school was not high on my priority list. I called my former chef at Le Titi de Paris and asked if he needed any cooks. He fortunately did, so I had gainful employment. After another year at the restaurant, I found a part-time R&D job working at T. Hasegawa’s culinary center in Northbrook. For ten months I spent Monday-Friday mornings at T. Hasegawa, developing applications to showcase their flavors, and spent nights and weekends cooking and baking at Le Titi. Hasegawa eventually found room in their budget to offer me a full-time position and the rest, as they say, is history. I spent five years there after which I joined Edlong, where I have worked since 2008. 

Vision Statement

I’ve been actively involved with the RCA since I started my R&D career. 20 years later, I still find valuable resources, community among its members and an unwavering commitment to carrying out its mission. If elected to my third and final term on the board of directors, I will continue supporting our education initiatives, including regional event opportunities and our Culinology degree programs on the higher education committee. Serving as Treasurer on the executive committee during the last several months has provided new challenges and taken me outside of my comfort zone, as well. I would be honored to further build upon the work that is already in progress to ensure that the future of the RCA continues to shine brightly.

 Adam Howell 

For the past ten years of my career, I have thought of myself as a food industry professional foremost. My main driving goal has always been to deliver memorable and satisfying food to all, whether in my capacity in the restaurant/food service industry, as a broker of industrial food ingredients, or in my current role supplying IQF Herbs, vegetables and culinary ingredients.

My passion for the industry began prepping vegetables and washing dishes for a 100 seat restaurant affixed to an independent senior living complex, with a copy of Kitchen Confidential in my backpack. I was then drawn to Philadelphia to attend Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, where I graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s of science, and concentrations in food and beverage operations, hotel operations, sustainable event planning and facility management.

While attending, I worked for a number of independent restaurant operators and food trucks in the city, and upon graduation was recruited by the Hillstone Restaurant group as Front of House manager for the Phoenix, Arizona based Biltmore Hillstone. From there, I moved back to Philadelphia to assume the General Manager position with Cosmic Foods, founded by area chef Peg Botto and be closer to my family. In this capacity I found my most rewarding work through job training and mentorship with adults on the autism spectrum, as well as creating fast casual dishes from locally source ingredients, and focus on sustainability. While at Cosmic Foods I was recognized by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Disability Services and the Pennsylvania Advocacy & Resource for Autism & Intellectual Disability.

I joined the industrial side of the industry in 2017 after attending a regional Institute of Food Technologists Suppliers show, joining Mike McDermott at Ingredient Connections, and serving as a broker for a dozen various importers, manufacturers, and farmers in the northeast. It was during this time that I joined the Research Chefs Association and found immediate kinship. In 2020, I ran successfully for the position of President of the Philadelphia Section Institute of Food Technologists, bringing back the suppliers show and scholarship endowments after a hiatus. I continue to serve in the capacity of Events Chair, in a non-voting role for the section.

From brokerage I moved to the joint venture between Matsutani Chemical & Archer Daniels Midland, representing “Fibersol” dietary fiber. My most recent career move has brought me to SupHerb Farms, acting as Industrial Sales Manager for Canada and the Northeastern US, bringing farm fresh flavor to industrial operators and collaborating with Chefs who recognize SupHerb’s excellence in quality. Additionally, I serve as moderator for the “Hustlers” RCA Discord channel, helping spur conversation, make connections, and bring educational programming to the group. Service, collaboration and compassion are my driving pillars, which I hope to bring to the RCA Board.

Vision Statement

I came to the Research Chefs Association not knowing what “culinology” was, I was only a few months into my role as an industrial ingredients broker, and the industrial manufacturing space as a whole, but I knew who chefs were and that I wanted to be around them and support them.

Like many in the RCA, I had come from the food service side of the industry, having studied restaurant management and subsequently cut my teeth as a manager in a number of establishments, finding that a toolbox of soft-skills made me most effective in customer facing roles. On a busy Saturday night or hectic brunch shift, I would most often position myself at the expo. station, delegating ticket duties to each back of house station, and coordinating with service staff to make sure dishes hit tables in a timely manner. I found a strength in knowing what each team needed to know, and hear, to be effective, and how to keep myself organized and composed when the rush was on.

Chris Posner


Chef Chris’ culinary career began early on, inspired by his Southern Italian family and their NYC restaurant, Teddy’s. While working in restaurant kitchens to pay for his education, Chris earned his B.A. in Communications from Kean University. After graduation, Chris sought opportunities to further develop his culinary training, working in Florida at the 4 Star Café Maxx, and The Royal Atlantic, a vegetarian forward hotel and spa.

With some mentoring from chefs, Chris attended and graduated The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.

After years of working his way through various foodservice establishments, Chris joined Somerset Hills Country Club as Executive Sous Chef, overseeing a ’la carte dining, as well as banquets.

Shortly after opening the doors of his own restaurant, outside of Princeton N.J., focusing on farm to table cuisine, Chris earned a review in The New York Times, as well as 3 stars from the Star Ledger, 3 stars from The Home News Tribune, and was named a top 10 romantic dining destination in New Jersey.

Chris joined Pinnacle Foods in 2012, taking his career in a new direction with research and development. Utilizing his skill set and his years of training, Chef Chris worked across the Pinnacle Foods portfolio, both grocery and frozen, researching, developing, innovating, and launching hundreds of products.

As a Certified Executive Chef of the ACF, as well as an active member of the Research Chefs Association, Chris stays current and in tune with the fast-moving culinary world, staying current with food related events and trade publications, watching and studying trends, and attending industry trade shows and events.

With over 30 years of experience in restaurants, banquets, country clubs, and CPG, Chef Chris joined Mitsui USA in 2019, tasked with creating a new direct to consumer business within the Foods and Retail Division.

Chef Chris leads culinary innovation, strategy, and operations for The Seasoned Carte, building business, driving R&D, providing innovative solutions, application expertise, and marketing support.

Vision Statement

Twelve years ago, I shook up my professional world and left restaurants and clubs for a job as an R&D chef at a CPG company. I didn’t know what to expect and was out of my comfort zone, but I was driven to succeed. I was unfamiliar with RCA but was eager to learn. I attended the Annual Conference that year and was blown away. The connections made, the opportunities available, the camaraderie with colleagues, which still exist today in the industry, grew out of that first conference.

Since that time I have been active and engaged with the RCA, from attending the Annual Conferences, regional and networking events, cooking at the James Beard House, and contributing to Culinology Under Quarantine. The education, relationships, opportunities- both professional and personal- have been extraordinary.

So, why me, and why now? Having spent over 25 years in restaurants and country clubs- ranging from a vegetarian hotel and spa in the early 90’s, to the home delivery space in it’s early stages, to owning my own restaurant, coupled with over 10 years in CPG and DTC, focusing on consumers, product development, operations, and marketing, I feel I am well rounded and uniquely positioned to bring a wealth of experience to share with the RCA membership. I lead with a results driven mentality, putting focus and emphasis on solutions as opposed to problems.

I believe the RCA is uniquely poised for exponential growth, as the business and science of food and agriculture are on the verge of a renaissance. From vertical farming to cell-based technology, the intersecting and collaboration of culinary and food science, what we know as Culinology®, and the RCA, is perfectly positioned to be an asset to many early stage, as well as established, businesses.

Being a part of the RCA, and certainly as a member of the Board of Directors, I feel the opportunity is twofold- lend my experience and expertise, working in tandem with other members of the organization to further the mission, growing the exposure in the industry, to not only chef’s and food scientists, but to marketers, sales professionals, process and packaging engineers, farmers, and really anyone who is focused on feeding the growing population of the world. Because it’s going to take all of those people, working together, to continue the food revolution, and certainly, the food evolution.

Jeff Crace

Jeff Crace, the CEO of Garlic King, discovered his passion in a unique way. His journey started well before the modest beginnings of the company. Immediately after high school, driven by a deep sense of patriotism, Jeff joined the US Army, serving as a Military Police Sergeant for three years. Post-military service, he pursued higher education at St. Cloud State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Post-graduation, Jeff joined a Fortune 500 Retail company, assuming various management roles. In 2001, Jeff decided to further his education, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He spent eight years in the tech industry but eventually found it unfulfilling. In 2011, he joined the California Garlic Company, starting as the Director of Business Development, then advancing to VP of Sales and Marketing, and ultimately becoming the CEO. Over the past 13 years, Jeff has transformed the company from a small enterprise into an industry leader.

As CEO, Jeff leads his team and a network of brokers across North America, supporting food manufacturers. He is an active member of the RCA, having served on the RCA EC Board as the Vice President also as a RCA Board Member and the SoCal Regional Chair. Jeff also contributes to the Membership Advisory Committee for the Association of Dressings and Sauces and serves on the Supplier Advisory Committee for Pickle Packers International.

On a personal note, Jeff combines his love for food with a passion for travel. He has explored extensively, visiting four continents and over 24 countries for both personal and professional development. Jeff is always on the lookout for new experiences and culinary adventures. In his leisure time, he enjoys traveling with his family or off-roading in his Jeep.

Vision Statement

A few months before officially joining Garlic King, I attended my first RCA conference in 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. I wanted to experience the conference myself to prepare for the next one in Atlanta. The conference and its attendees impressed me deeply, and many of those I met there have become long-standing friends and colleagues. Since then, I've been an active member of the SoCal Region from 2014, and in 2016, I assumed the role of Regional Chair for Southern California. We organize annual events and are currently working on forming a regional committee for these events. In 2019, I joined the Marketing and Content committee, and was elected to the RCA Board of Directors, serving from 2020 to the present. In my role as a Board member and the current Vice President, I oversee several committees. This past year as Vice President has been challenging but immensely rewarding in making significant contributions to the organization.

Having been a part of RCA for 13 years, I've witnessed its growth and evolution. I believe there are still opportunities for further development, and my business experience could be instrumental in this regard. I've taken it upon myself to enhance our Marketing team and amplify our culinary contributions.

My skills in business development, project management, team building, brand development, and marketing could significantly benefit the current Board. As a Board member, my goal is to foster RCA's growth, improve member retention, and maintain RCA's position as a leader in Culinology. Being described as a '2nd Generation' business individual, I often challenge the status quo, asking not just how things worked in the past, but how we can improve them. This forward-thinking approach is something I also bring to RCA, constantly considering how we can enhance the organization in the next 2, 5, and 10 years.


Joel Minkoff


Chef Joel Minkoff entered the hospitality industry while a college student at Drexel University. He quickly worked his way up from prep cook to sauté cook at T.G.I. Fridays in Marlton, N.J. Interested in fine dining, and scratch cooking, he secured a cook position under Gerard Gehin, the lauded French Chef and owner of the highly acclaimed Beau Rivage restaurant in Medford, N.J. It was because of Gehin and his executive chef, Paul Faulker, that Joel attended The Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, NY. After graduating CIA with honors, Joel returned to Southern New Jersey and secured positions as a banquet chef, executive sous chef and chef de cuisine at high end hotels and country clubs. Joel then accepted a sous chef position at Bogart's in Philadelphia's Latham Hotel, and then as chef de cuisine at The Hideaway in Cherry Hill, NJ, under Tim Papa, an alumnus of Le Bec Fin. When Eli Karetny, owner of Samuel's in Wayne, PA, who employed Joel at Bogart’s, asked him to rejoin his team, he didn't hesitate, and became executive sous chef at Samuel’s. Joel worked his way to executive chef within one year. After three years at Samuel’s, he was then asked to help create the opening menu and recipe support for the opening of 'Edge', formerly The River Deck, in Manayunk, Pa.

Chef Minkoff then entered the world of research and development as a research chef within Campbell's Soup Food Service division. His work encompassed developing frozen soups and meals for Campbell's brands and custom lines of products for national account customers, food service distributors and the armed forces. Chef Minkoff worked for six years at Campbell’s, reaching the level of Senior Executive Research Chef. Chef Minkoff then joined the team at Missa Bay in Swedesboro, NJ working with product development chefs from Wawa, McDonalds, and Burger King developing value added fresh and frozen food service solutions. He also continued developing Group Rations for military troop feeding programs working with product developers at the Ft. Lee Joint Culinary Center of Excellence and the Natick Solider Command in Massachusetts. When Missa Bay was sold to Ready Pak Foods, Chef Minkoff joined the team at Chelten House Products also in Swedesboro, NJ. Switching focus to all natural and organic private label dressings, sauces, condiments, and marinades for national retail grocers. Minkoff expanded Chelten’s offerings in shelf stable products, helping to successfully grow the business. During his years at Chelten House, the R & D team won 3 Sauce and 1 Dressing of the Year awards from the Association of Dressing and Sauces.

Joel was then recruited by the former owners of Missa Bay, to join as the research and development manager of their newly opened fresh foods company in Vineland, N.J. at the location of Safeway Freezer Storge, doing business as Sunny Side Farms. Management changes occurred at Sunnyside which propelled Joel to start his own private consulting company, ‘Next Level Foods’ with a continued focus on prepared meals, soups, sauces, dressings, and condiments, representing large food manufacturers, as well as several ingredient and equipment suppliers.

In the summer of 2019, Joel was referred by an industry friend to consult for a new line of refrigerated meals being developed by Sun Basket, a large home meal kit delivery company based in San Francisco. California. A brief consultancy turned into a full-time opportunity and the Sun Basket “Oven Ready” meals were launched in production facilities in both southern New Jersey and Morgan Hill, Ca. Joel trained a team in all phases of fresh meal innovation, testing, commercialization, launch and product life cycle maintenance. The menu of meals expanded to over 100 recipes and the sales quickly showed exponential growth. Missing more large scale, industrial style research and development, Joel applied to Tastepoint by IFF and was hired as the Design Manager of the BBC team based in Philadelphia, Pa. “I have been thrilled to join Tastepoint by IFF, learning a new business while helping the team develop new applications with their large array of high-quality flavors and ingredients and sharing my culinary passion and product development experience with such a talented group of people.”

Vision Statement

My vision is to help foster the continued growth of the Research Chefs Association and Culinology through programs, networking and mentoring that help support our culinary and food science communities. To help our Research Chefs Association members in both professional and personal development to elevate product development collaboration between food industry professionals to inspire innovation and ignite creativity.

After many years of membership, I want to pay forward my positive Research Chefs Association experiences, that have helped me have a successfull career as a Research Chef, across a wide variety of product development and manufacturing platforms and categories. To be a resource, advisor, and mentor for the next generation of product development professionals. I am committed to take every act of kindness that I received and pay that forward to other Research Chefs Association members. To provide support, guidance, and recognition to Research Chefs Association members to provide a positive impact on someone else's career journey.

Specifically, I hope to have a part in rebuilding the Research Chefs Association to a world class national and global professional organization that continually meets and exceeds the needs of the membership. Through a combination of membership growth, member retention, and both local and national programs that support financial goals that can help lead to a more stable financial status.

Thank you for your consideration and the opportunity to serve in this important capacity.


Kyle Stuart

Kyle began his career with 7 years as a private chef and cooking in high-volume restaurants across NY, MA, and RI. After earning his bachelor's degree in Culinary Nutrition & Food Science from Johnson & Wales University, Kyle has spent the last 7 years working in R&D across a vast number of product categories including frozen, shelf stable sauces, snacks, confections, dairy/dairy alternatives, plant-based foods, upcycled foods, & sports nutrition. He now holds a position as the R&D Manager of Culinology® at Chew, a product design and development company based out of Boston, Massachusetts. In 2018 he earned his CRC® through the RCA & his CFS through the IFT, and has served on the RCA Board of Directors since 2019. He is currently pursuing an MBS degree in Global Food Technology & Innovation from Rutgers University.

Years of experience: 7 in product development, 14 total in food Credentials: Certified Research Chef, Certified Food Scientist, PSQI

Vision Statement

The RCA became a part of my life in 2016 when I had the opportunity to compete in the student culinology competition. Since then, the organization has been an integral part of my personal & professional life.

I have learned an incredible amount as a member of the board, specifically through the strategic efforts we took to ensure the livelihood of the organization during the challenges of the pandemic. During my time as a board member, I had the opportunity to design and lead scholarship events, a Culinology networking workshop with Rober Danhi, the 2021 RCA Culinology Cocktail Competition with Dave Arnold, the Current Trends in Food Technology Panel during RCA+, and many more.

If re-elected, I will grow Culinology by developing strong, autonomous programs and relationships between the RCA, educational institutions, and strategic sponsors. I have been privileged enough to watch the student committee grow into a robust roster of future leaders, and would be honored to contribute mentorship, leadership, and strategy to the committee.

As an RCA board member I would uphold the RCA’s principles and focus on growing the experience for our members and providing a constructive environment to strengthen their passion and competencies. I wish to help shape the future, and raise the standard of our industry.


Nicole S. Linke


When people say they are passionate about food, I know I am with the right people! I don’t mean eating food, I mean understanding how it brings people together, how it is everchanging and a challenge to create something from nothing at times.

I recently celebrated my 15th year with The Suter Company, the first 7 were in Purchasing and Supply Chain and last 8 have been in Product Development and Innovation. We have continued to build our team and grow with the company gaining new capabilities and started from concept to commercialization of many products. I am involved from the initial concept presentation through the entire product cycle, including anything needed through the product optimization process. We don’t pass the baton in this organization, we work together as a team and hold each other accountable.

I have recently gotten involved in STEM Café as I am understanding that we need to get future generations involved and learn more about their options in this industry and the science of food. I continue to be part of IFT and see the synergies between these organizations.

Vision Statement

I first joined the RCA in 2019 and knew immediately it was a good fit for me while attending the Louisville, KY conference. I have been an IFT member since 2015 and was contemplating becoming a Certified Food Scientist. This certification is technical and very important, but it seemed that I wanted to pursue a different path with a different blend of culinary skills and food science, so I learned about becoming a Certified Research Chef. I have had the opportunity to network with a lot of people and learn a lot in different sessions, Chicago section meetings and the world of Zoom meetings and multiple webinars to learn from RCA. I was elected to the RCA Board of Directors for 2022 and would like to continue my support of this great organization.

I would like to continue being a member of the RCA Board to bring what I have learned in food manufacturing for grocery, convenience stores, food service and collaborate with others.

As board members, we need to collaborate, communicate, and bring people together and bring energy to all of these things. We must understand the why and be able to make the connection between food science and culinary skills. There are people that have a very broad understanding and those that are very technical and specialized. I feel that we can bring experiences together through our memberships of IFT, RCA, RFA and other organizations to share this wealth of knowledge. I feel I will have a positive impact as I can bring experience, an open mind and organizational skills to the table. I would love this to be a learning and teaching experience at the same time with an amazing group of people from different walks of life.

I am qualified because I have learned from many different points of view and want to continue to learn, grow and teach. I would love to be part of a group that shares information and hands-on experience that I can then bring back to my company and personal education. Other current members, lapsed members, or members that haven’t joined yet need to understand the value of relationship building not only from a Research Chef and Food Scientist perspective, but also from a Sales and Marketing perspective.

Vision: To continue the energy and encouragement to bring together Food Science and Culinary Arts in this dynamic community


Thomas Gervasi

My ‘love of food’ story began in early childhood. Growing up in rural Maine in a family that grew, harvested, and preserved many of our own vegetables each year. | wasn’t particularly passionate about spending my afternoons weeding the vegetable gardens, but it did spark a deep appreciation for where our food originates, and the work involved in getting it from soil to plate.

| have been intertwined with the food industry ever since. Working at several restaurants beginning in early High School and continuing on for another 12 years in everything from fast food to fine dining.

Gaining exposure to the potential of food manufacturing while attending Johnson & Wales was truly valuable because it helped open a new world of interesting food-related jobs that | was previously unaware of.

The capstone to my Culinary degree was gaining an internship at Blount Fine Foods. At the end of the internship | was offered a full-time position as an R&D Chef at Blount and am now going on my 13" year here. Within Blount | have worked my way up from R&D Chef to R&D Manager and, most recently, to Director of Culinary Product Development.

Working within the R&D team at Blount we have been the cornerstone of new product development and expanding the business overall. Our team has been directly responsible for the development of hundreds of newly launched products ranging from regional restaurant chains all the way up to national retail products. There is truly no comparison to the feeling of seeing a product out in the market that you personally had a hand in creating!

Vision Statement

During my senior year a professor at JWU encouraged me to join the RCA as a student member. | was able to attend my first RCA conference in Atlanta that year (2011) and have been an active member ever since! | have tried to stay as involved as possible by attending (almost) every annual conference as well as regional get-togethers, webinars, networking outings etc. | also set out with the goal of obtaining the CRC certification as soon as my experience met the requirements, which | was able to accomplish a few years ago!

I envision a future where the RCA represents the bedrock of the food industry. Our members are already the best of the best, without a doubt, but we need to build a more cohesive association that is the desired destination for anyone working (or aspiring to work) within the food R&D/Culinology space.

My experience and mindset can help achieve this goal. | am very passionate about creating quality products and experiences (including food products, but also the ‘product’ of a highly desirable organization/team). Through working at Blount | have been lucky enough to work with some truly motivational leaders who have demonstrated what it takes to create a team of people that others WANT to be a part of. At the RCA we need to do the same, create that FOMO feeling within the industry where anyone who has an R&D/Culinology type position knows that this is THE organization that will enhance their networks, skill-sets, and careers overall.

Expanding and improving the RCA will take tactful collaboration both inside and outside the organization to be successful. | know | can be a part of that success by leveraging my support network as well as the leadership and continuous improvement skills | have developed during my career journey thus far.

Nominations and Board Development Committee

Catherine Proper; Chair – The Pictsweet Company

Melinda Russell; Committee Member – Treehouse Foods

Gerrie Bouchard; Board Liaison – Tastepoint by IFF

The NBDC Committee's Mission

  • Solicit and recruit candidates based on stated eligibility requirements
  • Evaluate potential candidates against current and future needs of the board
  • Present slate of nominees
  • Assure leadership development
  • Advise president and board of directors of potential appointments in the event of vacancies