Nominations and Elections

Get to Know the 2023 RCA Board Candidates

There are nine (9) candidates for the 2023 RCA Board. You can vote for no more than seven (7) candidates. From the nine candidates on the slate, the seven candidates who receive the most number of votes will be seated on the 2023 RCA Board of Directors, beginning Spring 2023. 

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

Please click on the candidates below to view their submitted bios and vision statements.



Hi there! My name is Gregg Brickman, Corporate Executive Chef/Sr manager of culinary at Henny Penny Corporation. I work with our business development and sales teams to supply a range of culinary support and expertise to our distributor and corporate partners; this includes product testing, menu development, and program development.

Before joining Henny Penny, I was the Sr. Director of Culinary Innovation at HOA Brands (Hooters, Hoots Wings). I was responsible for developing, testing, and launching all culinary products for 430 franchise and corporate locations worldwide, including developing the Hoots concepts from ideation to launch. I also created three Ghost kitchen concepts while implementing systems for product specification management and store-level culinary training.

Before HOA Brands, I worked with Wolfgang Puck for 13 years, where I started in Los Angeles at Spago and worked my way over to the Kodak Theatre as the Executive Sous Chef. I was promoted to Executive Chef of the Georgia Aquarium, and finally, I was the Regional Executive Chef for the East Coast.

I am originally from Boston, but I have lived in Rhode Island, New York; Portland, Maine; Greenville, South Carolina; and Los Angeles, California. I have a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. I currently live in Atlanta with my wife, Becky, and our two daughters, Sage and Sena.

20+ years of progressive experience driving growth in sales, profits, and quality of retail food service product platforms and programs for leading brands, including ten years of focused experience supporting chicken restaurants: QSRs, LSRs, ghost kitchens, and casual and fine dining restaurants. Culinary Arts degree and extensive professional development.

Education | Certification

JOHNSON & WALES UNIVERSITY Associate of Science, Culinary Arts

RESEARCH CHEFS ASSOCIATION Food Science Studies (Culinology)

LATIN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION Spanish language studies


Vision Statement

My RCA's vision is to be the most welcoming and collaborative culinary/community that inspires and supports anyone interested in culinology.

I feel strongly about community and want to give back by helping create a comfortable place for culinarians to share ideas and support one another's successes.

In 2012, after leaving a long career in fine dining with Wolfgang Puck and starting in research and development with HOA Brands, I joined the RCA. I found myself in a new corporate world with unique challenges and opportunities. The vernacular was different, and my new team consisted of individuals with all backgrounds in food science, food technology, sales, supply chain, marketing, operations, and quality. The RCA helped me bridge the gap and find community.

I took advantage of my membership, signing up for culinology with Jill Golden and attending all the conferences I could. I found a group of chefs with similar backgrounds and attitudes that also desired to help and be part of a larger community. I was fortunate to have made the connections and friends I can call for advice and support whenever needed.

In my current role with Henny Penny, I have been fortunate to have a strong support team that has allowed me to partner with a non-profit organization in Atlanta. We partnered with the Shular Institute to help inner-city kids go to culinary school at little to no cost and have donated over 350,000 dollars’ worth of equipment to the school. I also developed an all-day seminar and networking event in partnership with Cargill, Newlyweds Foods, Sugar Creek, and Woodstone to provide industry education called FCI (Forum for Culinary Innovation). Additionally, I started a bi-monthly dine-out where corporate chefs from the greater Atlanta area meet for lunch to try new restaurants, network, and offer support to each other.

I have found that our industry can benefit from programs like these because they foster comradery and inspire creativity. My motto is: “deliver more than you promise, own your mistakes and never stop learning.” I have grown personally and professionally since joining the RCA, and I’d like to give back some of that positive energy as a board member.



Ever since I was a child, I remember loving food. I attribute this to my dad forcing me to watch Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, followed by Justin Wilson on PBS—I guarantee! I have always been intrigued by how there are many different ingredients and diverse cultures using them, but there is still so much overlap and relatability between foods and dishes all over the world. 

While in college, I worked in restaurants, serving and managing, on top of being a full-time athlete. This taught me to be adaptable, which is important in leadership. After college, I attended The French Culinary Institute, where I was able to dive deeper into food science through instructors like Dave Arnold. I continued my time in New York City by working at Butter Restaurant and The Modern. I gained respect for different cooking styles and the environment of a traditional French brigade, but I didn’t quite feel “at home” in these restaurants. 

I then moved to Athens, Georgia and worked in restaurants, gaining respect and knowledge for southern cuisine and began my teaching career with Athens Technical School’s culinary program. Through this process, my passion for teaching began to grow, opening-up more doors for future career opportunities. 

I received my master's degree from the University of Georgia and learned more about nutrition, food science, and culinary education. I am a published scientist and have presented data at multiple conferences. This shows my experience in working cross functionally on a professional stage.

I started my food science career at Kalsec. I’ve had the privilege to build a culinary approach with our products and my passion is to continue. I love combining the knowledge of food science and culinary to assist those in all functions of the food manufacturer. I have also managed employees where I’ve been able to grow as a leader. Managing employees, hiring, and firing, continues to teach me many skills such as communication, motivation, and delegation.

Kalsec, where I learned more about international business through the culinary and R&D lens.

I’ve been an active member of IFT, serving locally and in the Emerging Leader’s Network. These strong connections that I have through IFT, along with my strength in technical knowledge and communication, help further my culinary capabilities. Combining the two is what Culinology represents, and I am excited to continue to lead within the organization.  

Vision Statement

I became an RCA member 7 years ago. I was intrigued but unsure where I belonged in the organization. During my second year attending the annual conference, I was introduced to Jaime Mestan. She was overtly accepting and helped to get me more involved in RCA. Most importantly, I began to see the value of the organization for myself and for ZA my company. Jaime was always available to help with my culinary journey in the food industry and to understand where my capabilities were needed within the organization. Her passion and knowledge of the organization and Culinology help to promote the possibilities of RCA and to further its growth.

RCA has been key to my career growth in the industry and within my company. I strive to pay-forward how Jaime and others accepted me into RCA and helped to build my position in the organization.

I would like to continue to spread this passion and importance of the organization to—food scientists, sensory scientist, and others with interest in food and Culinology. There are many people in these positions that aren’t aware of the value that our organization gives to their career and to their current and future companies. RCA members have become great friends and very important people in my life and this is beneficial in ways that are immeasurable. This comradery begets career growth and confidence in abilities.

Each year I have been in charge of the theme and demos of our booth and worked with marketing to secure the message shared throughout the conference. It is one of my most rewarding work events each year.

Events I’ve hosted include the following:

  • 2021 virtual presentation through the New England chapter on product development with alliums

  • 2022 breakout session in Atlanta, “Heating Up Product Innovation.”

  • 2022 Chicagoland event with Mike Kostyo focusing on LATAM-inspired trends where I shared a menu throughout the presentation.

I am currently on the Membership Committee and am in the process of learning and building our corporate sponsorship program with guidance from Kyle Stuart. I have enjoyed learning from the leaders at RCA and I am excited to work in a leadership position to inspire others.



I’ve always possessed a passion for cooking and science. Upon graduating private school in Boston MA, it was assumed by my parents that I would attend college. Their vision for my life was that I would study premed, follow the same pathway of my siblings and go on to practice medicine. I knew in my mind this would never happen.

I took it upon myself to research a culinary education and possible HRI degree. (My guidance counselor had little knowledge of the CIA or Johnson and Wales.) I applied to the CIA in the spring of 1976, enrolled in the fall of 1977 and graduated with honors in 1979.

I graduated in March which was perfect timing to seek employment on Cape Cod & the islands. I spent the next two years working in hotels and restaurants on Cape Cod and Nantucket island. Little did I know that I was building a network of culinarians who I would become life long friends, associates and impactful food industry leaders.

I departed the cape in 1982 and moved to Boston. My goal was to fire up my career and put some money away for college! I followed one of my mentors to the Bay Tower Room / Club which was managed by the Ritz Carlton, Boston. I worked as a Sous chef under Chef Hanken Blanken. (in the early 80’s all the Chef roles were filled with European trained Chefs. The wave of new American Chefs was just starting to build.) The Bay Tower Room was nicely seated atop 60 State Street tower which happened to also be ITT Sheraton Hotels World Headquarters. During this period I became very involved with the ACF, working towards certification.

I joined Sheraton Hotels in 1983 as a “Task Force Chef.” My roll was to work closely with my colleagues opening new hotels and resorts worldwide. I had the pleasure to open hotels in Rome, Frankfurt, Dallas and Tucson. It was an amazing experience for a young Chef.

I met my wife Lynda while working together to open the Sheraton Tucson El Conquistador. We were married soon after the resort opened. Besides finding my partner for life I also rediscovered my passion for science. I had enrolled at the University of Arizona in order to complete my BS Degree. Here I discovered food science. It was there that I realized that I was a food scientist trapped in a chef uniform! Both worlds collided. For the first time in my career I was able to articulate cooking processes, how, why etc. This knowledge helped bolster my passion for food, pastry and bakery.

We followed Lynn’s career to San Diego CA. She remains working for Sheraton. I took a position at La Costa Hotel and Spa as Ex. Sous Chef. Two years later we moved to Chicago. Lynn became the Global Director of Sales for Sheraton. I joined the Ritz Carton Group as Executive Chef at the Whitehall and Tremont hotels.

In 1989 I took a position with Marriott Hotel as Ex. Chef at the Chicago Marriott Downtown. In 1991 I opened Desserts Etcetera, selling handcrafted pastries and breads to hotels and restaurants. The fall of 1996 I expanded our bakery to Grand Rapids MI. in 2001 I sold the business and joined the Schwan Food Company as Director of R&D for bakery. In 2005 I joined Sara Lee Food Service as Corporate Chef. In 2007 I left there to join Cara Restaurants and Airline Catering in Toronto Canada as VP Culinary innovation. In 2008 in returned to the baking industry at Awrey Bakeries as Director of Culinary. In 2012 I joined JMH Premium as VP Culinary innovation. Most recently I joined Deli Star Corporation as VP Culinary innovation.

Vision Statement

While I was not a founding member, I’ve had the pleasure to be involved with the Research Chefs Association for many years and joined the group soon after its inception. Working collaboratively has introduced me to new ideas and unprecedented discovery. I’ve been fortunate to work with many RCA members in different capacities over the years and believe the association is entering a pivotal time for tremendous growth. As Past President with a vision for developing future industry leaders, I hope to inspire and mentor those looking to achieve greatness. Watching the association evolve into what it’s become today has ignited my desire to run for the board of directors to help continue moving the association forward with future thinking. Between our loyal members and strong leadership, I believe that the Research Chefs Association can become the gold standard for innovative, culinary excellence. I look forward to the prospect of rejoining the community of thought leaders and sharing new ideas for generations to come.



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

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 the 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. Soon after, I moved back to Philadelphia to assume the General Manager position with Cosmic Foods, founded by area chef Peg Botto. 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. While with Ingredient Connections 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 lengthy hiatus. I continue to serve in the capacity of “past president” until July of 2023.

From brokerage I sought to move to an organization with more specificity, and found a position covering a territory from Pennsylvania to Florida, in a sales capacity, for the joint venture between Matsutani Chemical & Archer Daniels Midland, producing “Fibersol” dietary fiber, a position I hold currently. 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.

Those same communication, organization, and coordination skills are ones I intend to bring to the RCA Board of Directors, and for someone who always appreciated (and to an extent envied) the work of chefs, being able to communicate with them, and work towards a common goal is exactly where I want to be.

My first organization in the industry was the Institute of Food Technologists, a group that would completely change my understanding of how the larger food manufacturing ecosystem works. But for someone without a food science background, I felt some of the conversation and knowledge sharing to be out of reach. The desire to contribute in whatever way possible was what led me to run for President with the Philadelphia Section IFT, because if I was not able to contribute scientifically to the organization, the least I could do was be involved in the management and growth of its networking and education apparatus.

With my application to be on the board of the RCA, I seek to replicate the mission and success I have had as president of a local IFT chapter, contributing my communication and organization skills to furthering the organizations goals of fostering the next generation of Culinologists, expanded education opportunities for current members, growing the membership base, and more. Additionally, I see this as a natural progression from my work moderating the “Hustlers” RCA Discord channel, helping to curate a space for young professionals to learn, network and share experiences online.



I always knew I wanted to do something with food and initially it was to be a farmer (so I could drive a tractor). I grew up watching food being grown on our family farm in Ireland, watching my nana cook for many from a wood fired range, to watching my mom make amazing dinners, and then my dad in is operations role at large food company; I was surrounded by food production.

I went to the University of Wisconsin for Food Science, and it was during my junior year that three great things happened simultaneously; I started working in a restaurant, I read ‘What Einstein Told His Cook’, and I started relating the science to the food I ate. After graduation I decided to go to Johnson & Wales for Culinary and began apprenticing in a fine dining Italian restaurant and loved every minute of it. During Culinary School, I worked in catering, as a butcher, and then back on the line at an upscale casual dining restaurant. During all of this I kept up with the RCA and cold called a lot of Research Chefs for advice, as that is what I wanted to.

I saw and opening at Leprino Foods for an entry level Food Scientist and went for it. My thought was, given their customer focus, my culinary background will be beneficial for this role. It was six months later that my executive chef role was created! I worked at Leprino Foods for eight years with a team of four chefs. I also became a CRC and CCS.

From there I moved to Kerry as Director of Culinary Business development for about ten years. I was also fortunate enough to take many leadership course, get on the board of the RCA, contribute to the RCA’s Career Clarity presentation, and write a chapter about Culinary and Food Science in Careers in Food Science: From Undergraduate to Professional.

Today I am Sr. Director of Culinary Innovation for Tribe 9 Foods, a B Corp focused on people, community, and sustainability while manufacturing pasta (traditional and gluten free) and nut butters.

Vision Statement

It has been a tough few years at the RCA with the pandemic and stepping out from under poor management but we’ve managed to come out shining and swinging. For years I wasn’t getting what I wanted from the RCA, growth (myself and the organization) and confidence that my (our) role in the industry was clear and not a novelty.

When I first ran for the board, that was my vision. I continue with that vision and emphasize more on the industry clarity piece. We Research Chef’s and Culinary Scientists bring so much value to our organization and it is often overlooked, especially when it comes time for promotion or advancing into another field, sales, marketing, etc. I want to continue the career clarity and focus on what it takes to step into different roles. Most importantly though, I want it to be clear to all facets of an organization, the value we bring. It is clear to us and to many in sales and R&D but it could be clearer to our executives.

I want to see more courses/seminars dedicated to growth in all areas in the food business. I also want to see more events like the one hosted in Napa a few years ago. Getting together, cooking, innovating, collaborating, and creating new experiences.



I started my career in the food industry when I was 15 years old as a dishwasher. This first taste of working in a professional kitchen, cemented my passion for food and started me on an amazing journey.

After I received my Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University with two majors (Political Science and History) and a minor (Psychology) I went back to my first love, restaurants. This culminated in my being appointed the Executive Chef of two restaurants (simultaneously). While this had been my career goal, I would come to find something was missing. Then, I was introduced to Food Science. All that stood in my way of my next chapter, was 2 years of pre-requisite course work, which I completed while working full time in kitchens.

I earned my Master’s Degree in Food Science from the University of Minnesota and began doing Product Development. My first stop was Dairy Queen working primarily on ice cream products and the Orange Julius brand. This was a side of the restaurant industry that I had never seen before. My next stop was at Target where I was part of amazing teams building and designing the private label food brands. Retail/grocery was a new and I was fortunate to work on many categories (bakery, frozen, ice cream, to name a few). After Target, I moved to the world of food manufacturing at Bellisio foods (a frozen food manufacturer) as their Corporate Executive Chef. Within a year I was promoted to the Director of R&D where I helped assemble an amazingly talented team in product development, regulatory, labeling, and specifications. Together we launched many new brands, product lines, and helped drive corporate growth. When Bellisio was sold, it was time for a change – personally and professionally. I started a consulting business where I worked on a variety of interesting and challenging projects. I combined all these past experiences and took a Regional Sales position with Jeneil Biotech selling dairy flavours. It has been a tremendously rewarding experience.

I have seen the industry through many lenses – chef, student, product developer, R&D director, contractor, and sales manager. Positions in restaurants, retail, manufacturing, and ingredients have allowed me to see the many facets of food. I look forward to serving on the RCA Board and putting all my experiences to work for the continued success of the organization.

Vision Statement

While there are many professional food organizations, the Research Chefs Association (RCA) plays a unique and key role in our industry. Bridging the gap between science culinary creativity, RCA offers exceptional opportunities for members. For me, it has offered unique perspectives, learning, networking, and lifelong friendships.

I became an RCA membership early in my career by attended local/regional events. All of the activities offered unique views into the food industry and I found people who shared my passion for food. These regional events are often the first introduction that people have to RCA, and are key to recruiting, retaining, and engaging members. While in Minnesota, I served on the event planning committee for several years which was both fun and rewarding. There are opportunities to provide resources to current and new regional sections to ensure they flourish. Section leaders can share resources and learn from one another as well as help establish and/or grow other sections.

I’ve been fortunate to attend the annual RCA conference as an attendee, a speaker, and as an exhibitor. Each conference has been a tremendously positive experience offering me opportunities to expand my professional knowledge while networking with amazing people. Maintaining this conference, while challenging right now, is essential for the success of RCA. We must work tirelessly to generate new ideas and options to keep this conference going. While it may not look exactly like what it was in the past, new ideas and formats may be a temporary fix to achieve the greater long-term goal.

Professionally, I have had great success in leading teams through times of great change. I have been a part of many committees and groups at work that have worked on transformative projects. Outside of work, I was the Chair of the Minnesota IFT, one of the largest sections of IFT in the World. During my tenure, we worked as a team to maintain our monthly programming, to grow our Supplier Expo, tackled complex finance issues, and rewrote the bylaws.

All of my experiences, in and outside of RCA have provided me a good understanding of how to work with a team to achieve results. I look forward to the new challenges of helping RCA continue to grow and flourish. Together, we can make a great impact and ensure the long term success of RCA.



I spent several years working for a mechanical contracting company in my previous life. During that time, I was installing food processing equipment, related piping, controls, etc. I was responsible for building the pilot plant at Bush Brothers & Company which led to a position in the engineering group as pilot plant maintenance.

Shortly after, I returned to school and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Food Science & Technology with focus on business and technology at The University of Tennessee.

After graduating, I moved from Engineering to Product Development. Since then, our company has been exploring flavorful new avenues that promote mainstream consumption of vegetable protein…eat more beans! Within my tenure at Bush Brothers, I have gained extensive knowledge in thermal processing, process improvement, and product development. I currently manage the development of several new products via co-manufacturers and suppliers. I am deeply involved with every step from ideation to commercialization including market research, product development (product and packaging), quality, food safety, and regulatory.

I have served as the Volunteer Section of IFT president twice, member at large each remaining year receiving the “Outstanding Section Volunteer” award 11 times and a Certificate of Appreciation for leadership and dedication from IFT National. I Currently I manage the section website with updates and news. I was also an instrumental voice in the decisionmaking process leading to 2014 change in membership tier options.

My personal interests include spending time with the family, waiting to see what my daughter (the artist) creates next, coaching my son for the high school bowling team, riding the Street Glide, playing with the culinary arts, and more rounds of golf when possible.

Vision Statement

I joined the RCA in 2015 not fully understanding what RCA was about. During the first conference I attended, I fell in love with the concept of Culinology, the variety of members, trend awareness, and the overall environment.

While IFT has an important role and is certainly a place for the science of food, the environment is not always warm and is often specific to regulatory, quality issues, ingredients, and equipment. The science behind making quality food safely is there, but the aspect of making great tasting products while staying on trend is missing.

What I love most about the RCA is the blend of culinary and science (Culinology). I feel a warmness and camaraderie within the RCA and its members. It seems everyone here has a unique story just like me. RCA just “fits” my personality, professional goals as a developer, and curiosity for what comes next.

It would be a great opportunity to bring more science through members and content to this already great group of Chefs and Scientists. My goal is to be able to help everyone make quality, great tasting food that is always safe. I believe my extensive knowledge in processing and food science would support that goal. I would love to work as competitions chair again someday, but would I know the goal right now is to survive and grow financially. I would be happy to support in a beneficial role while we build ourselves back up.

Thank you for your consideration.



Nelson Serrano-Bahri was born and raised in Puerto Rico, from an early age he was exposed to the culinary wonders of the island. As he grew, along with cartoons he loved to watch Julia Child on Saturday mornings. Nelson’s interest in the culinary arts continued to grow, as his grandmothers invited him into the kitchen to cook with them. Nelson started to learn the recipes of his diverse family, which have roots in Spain, France and Lebanon. In their small household, they would cook anything from arroz con pollo y habichuelas to tabouli and dolmas.

With his culinary interests piqued, he decided to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts and Nutrition and selected Johnson and Wales University as the place to develop and grow his skills. During his time there he was a teaching assistant, culinary and nutrition resource at Kids First Rhode Island, intern at Marriott International Hotels, and had his first culinary R&D job as a co-op at ConAgra Foods Culinary Center of Excellence. Inspired by his mentors at ConAgra, he decided to pursue a second degree in Food Science and chose Rutgers University as the place to do it. During his time at Rutgers he had various internships with Kraft Foods and did graduate research at the sensory analysis lab.

Nelson graduated Rutgers University with a degree in Food Science and Management Economics. He went on to take a job with Kraft Foods in Chicago as a Food Scientist and Culinary Resource for the Pizza Division. The Pizza Division was acquired by Nestle and through the acquisition he continued his work on Pizza at Nestle. After almost 2 years with Nestle and looking to continue to strengthen and grow his culinary acumen he took the role of North American R&D Chef at Unilever Food Solutions in Chicago.

Coming from a very entrepreneurial family Nelson always had hoped to explore that segment of the industry and in 2015 he launched Puerto Rico Food Innovations, focused on the import and distribution of retail and foodservice premium food products as well as consulting. Currently Nelson is the Innovation and Culinology Manager; Emerging Business for Ingredion, located The Hatchery Chicago. Nelson manages culinary and technical projects focused on helping micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs commercialize their food products.

Vision Statement

For me, RCA is much more than just an association, it is family. I first heard about the RCA while I was completing my degree in Culinary Nutrition at Johnson and Wales University. During my internship at ConAgra Foods, I met Chef Catherine Proper and she shared her experiences with the RCA and encouraged me to get involved. Since then, I have had the honor of serving as a Board Member for the RCA, as well as participating in the Membership and the Conference Planning Committees.

These experiences exposed me to a world of possibility and a wealth of knowledge and creativity. I learned the nuances of the food industry, seasoned professionals, and an array of resources. The RCA has provided networking opportunities to connect and build relationships at the annual meeting and beyond. I can even credit the RCA for helping me find culinary career opportunities.

As a steward and guiding member for the future of the RCA, I would bring a unique perspective and diversity to the board. I am fully bilingual (Spanish and English) and have lived and worked in both the United States and Puerto Rico. I not only understand both languages, but have an intrinsic understanding of both cultures. I bring a diverse work background having worked in both technically driven scientific roles and culinary driven roles, as well as at Fortune 500 versus smaller family owned operations.

My immediate goal would be to maintain and further develop the high-quality services; the annual meeting, networking opportunities, resources, and learning tools. I would strive to work with the rest of the board to envision ways in which our organization can continue to evolve, ensuring it maintains its position as the place for Food Industry professionals.

Since discovering RCA, it has become an essential part of my professional, and personal, life. RCA and its members have been with me through good and bad, so giving back to RCA is a pivotal goal of mine.



McCain Foods Director of Culinary North America, Chef Mark Slutzky has over 30 years of experience in the Restaurant and Hospitality industry. A graduate with high honors of the Culinary Institute of America, he has worked in and run some of the most prestigious restaurants in New York and Paris. Mark has always been a proponent of New American Bistro and Green Market style cuisine emphasizing local and seasonal flavors. He was the Executive Chef of Neuman Corporate and Special Events Caterers in New York City before opening two successful casual barbecue restaurants with a heavy Sports bar and family memorabilia theme in Kingston, New York.

Mark’s passion has always been to bring the best possible food to the table. This foundation brought him to McCain Foods over 15 years ago. His goal, while working with National restaurant chains and leading the North American Culinary team, is to help McCain Foods bring to market relevant products that deliver on great taste, ethnic and regional American flavors, health and convenience to drive meaningful consumer experiences.

Vision Statement

I am very excited to continue my journey as a Board Member of the RCA and help us continue to build and brand a world class organization. I joined RCA back in 2006 when I was still the Chef/Owner of two market driven casual dining BBQ restaurants. I wanted to be part of this growing movement of a more progressive organization where Chefs, Food Scientists, Marketers and other disciplines were guiding the future of American cuisine. I have now attended and participated in eight National Conventions and have been a featured speaker and presenter at the Regional Educational workshops at CIA Copia Center Napa. It was at that event in talking to and spending time with members of the Board of Directors, RCA leaders and staff where I decided to pursue this opportunity to make an impact on our organization.

The RCA to me is all about community. Not just the Corporate chefs and food scientists who are members, but the farmers who grow and raise our food, the marketing teams that create the demand, the manufacturing plants who take those ingredients and make them into end products and supply chain and Sales who take those products into retail and food service outlets. We are also a community of independent chefs and small business operators that are progressive in not just technique but in thinking about the future of food. There are so many elements and the challenging question is “how do we find common ground for all of the community to fit in?” In the first few years I was a member, I felt that our organization did not do a great job in bringing it all together, but I have seen a great amount of change recently.

I’ve approached the last 16 years of my career as a Corporate Manufacturing Chef the same as I did my first 16 years of my career as an Independent restaurant upscale greenmarket driven Chef, just on a different scale. As chefs and product developers, we are all just trying to bring the best quality food to the table while always thinking of our consumers. We also must pay attention to changing habits, lifestyles and social needs of our customers. That is why I would love to see the RCA focus more on bringing the big and little together. The biggest reason I became a Manufacturing Corporate Chef is to have an impact, I would love to work on a committee to bring chefs from small and big operations together in a truly impactful way to make better food that we all can be proud of. I also think there is more that unites us than what divides us, at the end of the day it’s all about the food.

As we build back better our organization, we also need to have a real pulse on the changing industry as well. I would really like to spend a lot of my personal capital on being an agent of change. As a returning Board member, I want to work on a grass roots movement in schools; Primary, Secondary and Culinary to give underprivileged students the understanding of what we do, and how they can have a meaningful and fruitful career in food. I think we can work together with their instructors and teachers as well as corporate leaders on internships and apprenticeships that will help level the playing field.

Being a board member has been a way for me to give back to an industry that has given me so much. I would like to continue my tenure to strengthen the relationship between big and little as well as help make the RCA a model of Corporate/Social responsibility for diversity and Inclusion.

2023 Nominations and Board Development Committee

To maintain strong leadership in RCA, the Nominations and Board Development Committee (NBDC) is charged with identifying and elevating top talent who are willing and able to serve on RCA’s Board of Directors.

Chair Committee Members

Catherine Proper, CEC
Nando's PERi-PERi, North America

Dolf DeRovira
Flavor Dynamics

Nicklas Frolander
Land O’ Lakes

Melinda Russell
Treehouse Foods

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