RCA Awards

Every year the Research Chefs Association pays tribute to the most accomplished, deserving professionals in the food product development industry. These individuals are recognized during an Awards Ceremony that takes place during the RCA Annual Conference.

Lifetime Achievement Award

This award is given to an individual who has achieved industry-wide recognition, if not mainstream recognition, for their lifetime achievements in Culinology®. To earn this honor, an individual must have significantly influenced the food industry and/or the consumer market through their career. Nominees must be veterans (at least 25 years) in the food industry serving as an inspiration to others in the industry.

Submit a Nomination for the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Michael Joy, Park 100 Foods

View Past Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients


I joined the RCA, in the early years, because it was to be a new forum of support and networking for the type of research chef that I was looking be. The RCA has had an extraordinary journey with such milestones as creating the discipline of Culinology® along with the infrastructure to support it. Serving the membership, as Board member and Past President, has truly been one of the highlights of my career. To have been bestowed such an honor as the Lifetime Achievement Award, especially by one’s peers, is both exciting and humbling.  Thank you to all of the members of the RCA for your years of partnership, encouragement and collaborative efforts on behalf of the RCA. - Michael Joy

Pioneer Award

Is awarded to an individual who has, through their own achievements, become recognized as a leader in the food industry utilizing the practice of combining culinary craftsmanship and food science (applied the discipline/concept of Culinology®) for at least 10 years. Nominee’s influence must be apparent throughout the food industry, including in education and standard practices.

Submit a Nomination for the 2018 Pioneer Award

2017 Pioneer Award

Craig Bacon, Tyson Foods

View Past Pioneer Award Recipients

117a943.jpg"I appreciate the recognition, but it’s all about what our company has gained and what our employees have received from RCA. The excitement for us being with the RCA is focus on giving our scientists culinary experiences, so they can design better food. In addition, we can enhance our communication with our culinary counterparts in the industry. Our scientists are not only better because of their involvement in the Culinology coursework, training and certification, but because they are able enjoy their job more. Through RCA, we are able to demonstration our investment in our employees and that has created a strong partnership.” - Craig Bacon

President’s Award

Is awarded at the discretion of the RCA President, to members whose contributions to the association or industry have made a significant impact.

2017 President's Award

Susan Murray
Bob Garrison
Jackie Kleis
Nelson Serrano-Bahri
Kimberly Schaub
Dr Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan

View Past President’s Award Recipients


“I joined RCA in 2012-2013 and absolutely love every aspect of the organization—its members and reason for being. My work requires me to interview chefs and I always  include a plug for RCA in every discussion. And, after serving on RCA’s Marketing and New Member committees, I think I’ve found my true landing spot with Conference Education & Planning. I love food and beverage trends and it’s fun to see what might best fit RCA member interests. I also invite all members to give me more ideas while we go out for each annual Education Foundation fun run!” - Bob Garrison


"It has been an exciting surprise receiving an award from an association that has taken my culinary career to another dimension.Working this past year with such respectful peers such as John Draz and Jason Beherends has been outstanding!

Personally, it has been an honor receiving it from the President, Catherine Proper, who took the road less taken by holding the annual RCA convention outside the mainland, my beautiful Puerto Rico. Thank you, thank you RCA!" - Jacqueline Kleis 

Kimberley.jpg"At the 2017 Conference, RCA President Catherine Proper chose me as one of the recipients of the President's Award in recognition of the effort to produce a podcast that highlights the Culinology world, whether that's food service, product development, or consultancy work.

It was such a surprise and honor to receive the recognition and to be counted among the other chefs who volunteer their time and money to promote the industry and career. There are leaders in the RCA whom I respect deeply for their careers and their wisdom, and to be considered an up-and-coming contributor is a mantle I bear proudly." - Kimberly Schaub. Hear more from Kimberley

Culinology® Innovation Award

Is awarded to an individual or team for exceeding expectations in the development of a new and innovative product or product line, to acknowledge excellence in three categories:

  • Retail Innovation
  • Food Service Innovation and/or
  • Functional Ingredient Innovation

View Past Recipients

Culinology® Expo Product Award

Attendees of the Culinology® Expo vote on their favorite exhibitor product at the Culinology® Expo, and the winning company is presented with this award.

Submit a Nomination for the 2018 RCA Culinology® Expo Product Award

View Past Recipients

Other Historical RCA Awards

Through the years, the RCA has honored several members for their contributions to Culinology®, the RCA and the industry.

View Past Recipients