RCA Outstanding Achievement Awards

The Research Chefs Association Outstanding Achievement Awards were created to recognize product developers and educators in the area of Culinology®.

Award Categories
Outstanding Achievement in Product Development for Retail:

A working product developer in Research and Development whose career has set industry standards in the area of Retail and who has served as an inspiration to other Retail Product Developer professionals.

Final Nominees:

Eric Iserman, CCS®
Manager, Product Development & Quality Assurance
Save A Lot

My career to date has been directly and significantly impacted by my Culinology education. Since graduating and finding my first opportunity with Save A Lot as an Associate Research Chef in 2014, I’ve had the chance to apply my Gold Standard to commercialization product development skills every day – and have loved every minute.

Since my first day on the job, I’ve had the opportunity to directly and collaboratively reformulate retail grocery products with private brand manufacturers all around the world. Using well recognized national brands as a benchmark, conducting thorough descriptive sensory analyses; and providing effective quantitative formulation direction to manufacturing partners, I’ve been able to drive significant quality improvements across our brands. From our Portmann’s salad dressing line, to our Coburn Farms traditional and Greek yogurts, our assortment looks, feels, smells and tastes more like their national brand targets than ever before.

Save A Lot seems to be satisfied with my pragmatic and effective Culinology fueled approach. In less than five years, I’ve been fortunate enough to advance from an entry level role into a managerial capacity with significant visibility at the highest levels of the organization; and the opportunity to oversee all quality operations for our multi-billion dollar private brand portfolio.

Thank you for nominating me for this incredible award. I’m thrilled to highlight Culinology in the retail sector – and look forward to discovering new ways to apply the uniquely cross-functional value of Culinology in the future.

Eric Koyama
Senior Chef, Culinary Manager
Albertsons Co.

Through my retail Product Development career of over 23+ years, I have had the opportunity to innovate, develop, train and commercialize a cross category selection of products throughout the entire retail grocery store segment. Some of the categories and products I have had the pleasure of doing –

    Ideated, developed, and commercialized a complete lineup of shelf stable simmer/finishing sauces that created an entire new category in one of the largest retail grocers, capturing over 67% of the entire category with flavors like a Mushroom Wine (Chaseur type), Tikka Masala, Sesame Ginger, Cacciatore, Korean BBQ and other recognizable flavor profiles, allowing the consumer ultimate flavor conveniences in cooking at home. Created, developed and commercialized an entire center of the plate, multi serve frozen entrée lineup for one of the largest grocery retailers consisting of over 80 skus, generating 100M annual. Wrote, developed, trained and executed for one of the largest grocery retailers, a fresh cut produce program, including dips, salsas, hummus’, fresh cut fruits, vegetables and fresh vegetable meal side options. Wrote, developed, executed and trained fresh grill programs for one of the largest grocery retailer for all their deli departments- 2400 stores

Kang Kuan
Executive Research Chef

I have been working as a corporate chef for 4 ½ year prior to time spent at commercial restaurants. My success has been able to translate my drive for new dishes at the restaurant level to drive for new innovative products in retail and food service. These new innovative products have included the frenched spare rib, petite porchetta, petite pork rack, and Yappah Chicken Crisps, a product recognized by respected publications (Spirit of Innovation Awards for Product Development Teams from Prepared Foods and TIME magazine’s 10 Smartest Sustainable Products of 2018) for the revolutionary nature it brought to the industry.

Holly Ramage, MSFS, CCS®
Food Scientist

With 10 years of product development experience at Pepscio, Holly Ramage, MS, CCS, has developed products for many of America’s most loved brands including Doritos, Tostitos, Lays, and Sunchips. Some of the highlights include development of Tostitos Dipitizers, a line up culinary inspired flavors such as 4 Cheese Queso, in a microwavable tray with a re-closeable lid feature. This project involved not only formulation work to prefect the restaurant inspired formulations for retort application, but involved sourcing new manufacturing options and close connection with packaging engineers for optimization of bowl and lid design. Additionally, Holly has worked in extrusion technology with the expansion of Sunchips brand into Sunchips Veggie Harvest which utilizes yellow peas as the number one ingredient. Further, Holly’s developments include a lengthy list of seasoning and flavor designs including Hispanic focused flavor profiles for Doritos and a line up of Lightly Salted flavor offerings for Lays Kettle Cooked chips. In all projects, Holly works to combine culinary insights with science fundamentals to inspire delicious finished product design.

Outstanding Achievement in Product Development for Food Service:

A working product developer in Research and Development whose career has set industry standards in the area of Food Service and who has served as an inspiration to other Food Service Product Developer professionals.

Final Nominees:

Greg Boggs, CCC
Senior Chef
Campbell's Foodservice

As a Research Chef at Campbell Soup Company I have held several roles with increasing responsibility in Retail and Food Service. In Retail I drove culinary innovation on many brands, translating culinary trends into commercialized food designs in partnership with R&D. I led the culinary development and inspiration for a new platform extending out iconic Campbell Chunky line of soups. From concept to consumer engagement through creating culinary gold standard and working with colleagues to translate those into commercial products.

In Campbell’s North American Food Service, I am developing soups that will drive growth and interest by incorporating trends and utilizing new ingredients that will be unique to the market. As well as leading ideations and collaboration sessions developing menu items for national chain accounts, that showcase our products.

During my time at Campbell I have won 2 R&D innovation contests creating a new product for a specific segment. I also won a Global Open Innovation contest where my innovation idea was selected as a top 4 finalist out of 550 entries. I then pitched my concept to a panel of senior executives and I was awarded funding to build a new line of products. This project is still ongoing. In 2017 I won the RCA Professional Culinology Competition in Puerto Rico with the help of teammate Jesse Fellows. I created a gold standard entrée featuring Puerto Rican flavors and worked with Jesse to translate the gold standard into a frozen entrée.

Everyday I put my all into every recipe and idea, to deliver the best for our consumers and customers. I am very passionate about my work and try to show that in everything I do. I truly enjoy creating delicious food for the millions that eat our products every day.

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Claric Grimes, CCS®
Associate Director of R&D
Tyson Foods

I started my career at Flint Hills Foods, helping develop fully cooked items that are currently sold under the Hormel Refrigerated Entrees brand. Lead a development team for meatballs currently sold at Noodles and Company, help develop meal kits specifically pot roast kits sold at Wal Mart. A Strong performer with over 20 years of Research and Development, Food Technology and Sales experience. Including but not limited to new product conception, food safety programs, and account management. Performance and productivity driven leader who is accountable and decisive. Build rapport, enthusiasm, teamwork, and motivation into organizations. I can identify best opportunities to create vision and execute plans.

As Associate Director at Tyson Foods with demonstrated experience on some of the most complex product development issues, I’m a true team player who works closely with the business and with colleagues to drive results. I’m not afraid to use my talent to think creatively, use my leadership skills and talented team, to give a competitive advantage to help Tyson Foods Grow, Deliver and Sustain business.

Most recently I’ve worked on a Flavored Pepperoni platform. Tyson has recently discovered some new innovative pepperoni flavors driven by consumer liking. We’re offering bold new flavors for limited time offers (LTO) that are outside the normal traditional flavor profile. It will be a new protein platform for the development of new pizza platforms in addition to potential other non-traditional pizza products.

The wine salami is an amplified version of the traditional Genoa salami that delivers on the wine and soured flavored of traditional European style salami The jalapeno pepperoni delivers a southwestern flavor with a higher heat punch than most average consumers are used to The mesquite flavored pepperoni delivers another southwestern flavor profile with a well balance smoky flavor that would work well on a bar-b-q application The hot salami brings back the traditional Italian calabrese hot salami

To summarize, I have helped develop some of the ready to eat entrees sold by Hormel Refrigerated Entrees brand; developed meal kits (beef and pork pot roast) at Tyson Foods; developed cook in bag meat items at Tyson foods; developed fully cooked taco fillings, pizza crumbles, ham items and chicken items; worked on improving handheld items such as breakfast burritos, soups and sauces.

Kevin Houston
Sr. Director of Research & Development
Church’s Chicken

I have been with Church’s Chicken for almost 9 years as Senior Director of R&D. I lead a nimble team that has responsibility for all menu innovation. My favorite successful product that I have developed is Smokehouse Chicken. A smoky marinated half-chicken is fried without any batter or breading, after cooking, it is glazed with a sweet and smoky sauce. It’s the moistest, juiciest, smoked chicken that you’ve ever eaten. This product has consistently provided annual sales increases as an LTO for Church’s.

Prior to Church’s, I worked at Burger King as a Senior Manager, Director, and finally the Senior Director of Product Innovation. We had many winning products, but the product I am most proud of is Chicken Fries. Everyone has a chicken tender of some sort, but this one brought ultimate portability, spice, and a little fun to the category. Consumers have embraced this product as it has been on their menu for about 13 years. Burger King launched several flavor extensions off the base product.

Lastly, one of the accomplishments that I’m most proud of is the innovation team that I built at BK. We were a group that worked hard, played hard, and accomplished a lot.

Angela Wadlington, CCS®
Manager, Culinary & Commercialization
Chick-fil-A, Inc.

As a 15-year employee of Chick-fil-A, Inc., I’ve had the pleasure of developing several products across various categories of our menu. Several of those menu items include ; Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy chicken strips, Spicy chicken biscuit , Spicy grilled sandwich (with new bun), Chick-n- strips; Cobb Salad, Market Salad, Spicy Southwest Salad; Side Salad, Jalapeno salsa, Hashbrown Scramble Bowl and Burrito, Superfood side (alongside chef/restaurateur Ford Fry); milkshakes including seasonal Peach and Peppermint Chocolate Chip; the cool and refreshing Frosted Lemonade; dipping Sauces including Chick-fil-A sauce, Sweet and Spicy Sriracha, Zesty Buffalo and Garlic & Herb Ranch; salad dressings including Avocado Lime Ranch, Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Creamy Salsa, Light Italian, Garlic & Herb Ranch; and soups, Chicken Tortilla soup and Chicken Noodle Soup improvement.

The chain wide launch of the Spicy chicken sandwich and our milkshakes were two of several milestones for Chick-fil-A.

We are always looking of ways to simplify processes in our restaurants and one of the processes that I was able to influence and change was simplifying the way we make our milkshakes.

A few menu items I’ve also had the pleasure to work on, but are no longer on the menu include Asian Salad (before replaced with spicy SW salad), Fudge brownie, Banana Pudding Milkshake, Coffee Caramel Milkshake.

The combination of products mentioned above and others from the team, as well as contributions from many individuals from cross-functional teams, our Operators, Team Members and most importantly our customers have helped us grow into a $10 billon company.

Outstanding Achievement in Culinology® Education:

A working educator whose career has set standards in the area of Culinology® and who has served as an inspiration to other Educators and Students.

Final Nominees:

Samir Amin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

While at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU), I brought in an industry perspective to complement the theoretical aspects taught in the classroom. Beginning in 2012, I transformed the Advanced Culinary Science Course to technical and functional ingredients course that exposed Culinology® students to a wide variety of ingredients and why, when and how to utilize them in various applications. I was instrumental in creating and launching the Open Innovation Research Center at SMSU as a way for the Culinology® program work with industry clients on a per-project basis, allowing our students to gain valuable real-world experience in product development and project management. In June 2013, Dr. Cheng and I were invited to Taylor’s University in Malaysia to demonstrate best practices from SMSU on teaching Culinology® and how to integrate project-based learning into their program.

In the Fall of 2015, I joined the faculty at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the Food Science and Nutrition Department. I still integrate an industry perspective into my classroom. I am responsible for converting our Culinary concentration to an approved Culinology® concentration. I found myself serving as a role model for students in the culinary and advanced (IFT-approved) concentrations who wish to pursue careers in product development.

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Caren Messina-Hirsch
Dominican University

My entry into the food business was supervising the Foodservice Test Kitchen for General Mills. Subsequently, I left GMI and started a food consulting business. Our company, Food Performance, worked for food companies, food councils and advertising agencies developing new products, conducting competitive reviews, and tolerance testing foodservice products. We organized and judged both student and chef recipe competitions and conducted sales training. During those years, I learned the importance of networking, volunteering for professional organizations, and exceeding customer expectations.

Later, I was offered a position managing the Culinology® and Food Science programs at Dominican University. My real-world experience had a significant influence on my teaching style. I implemented team-based learning to match what students would face in industry. We toured local food companies. I used my contacts to help students gain part time, full time and internship positions. I had industry professionals visit campus for students to explain their Experimental Foods projects and to give students a day-in-the-life view of their work. I encouraged student participation in RCA by hosting a regional meeting, bringing them to offsite meetings, and applying for RCA Scholarships. I also coached two teams of students to finalist positions in RCA student competitions.

Rosemary Trout, MSFS
Program Director and Assistant Clinical Professor, Culinary Arts & Food Science
Drexel University

When I became a full-time faculty member in Culinary Arts & Food Science in 2013, one of my first points of business was to apply for our Culinology certification through RCA. I saw the value of our organization for our students as a means of networking, learning about the entirety of the food world, and for future employment, immediately! Since then, I’ve been actively involved in RCA, mainly on the Board of Directors since 2016 and as Chair of the Education Committee, and thereby with the higher education committee. We’ve updated core competencies, Culinology approval and renewal processes, implemented a learning library and webinars that are open to RCA members and non-members. As Program Director at Drexel University, with colleagues, I’ve established a Bachelors Degree program that brings both science and culinary classes together, with a focus on product development, and a Master’s Degree that brings culinary aspects to our food science curriculum. We work on projects and products with food companies within our curriculum to give our students experience that sets them apart from their peers. I introduced Culinology through the James Beard Foundation, Creating a Full Use Kitchen online course to many culinary educators internationally. I’ve presented at our higher education summit and have made great connections and friends with the colleagues I’ve met through RCA

Awards Timeline & How to Apply 

November 5, 2018 : Nomination applications open. You may nominate a peer or you may nominate yourself. There is no limit to the number of applications you may submit.

December 14, 2018: Submission Deadline

December 2018: An independent panel of judges will review the nominations and select finalists for each category based on the entry criteria.

January 2019: The finalists in each category will be announced and notified.

February 2019: A final ballot will be distributed online to a voting body of registered professional RCA volunteers* from each of the RCA Committees to select the award winners in each category.

March 15, 2019: Award winners will be announced at the Awards Reception at The RCA Conference in Louisville, KY.

*Registered Professional RCA Volunteers are identified as active committee members on the official RCA roster.

Please reach out to rca@culinology.org with any questions regarding the awards programs or nominations process.