Students & Professionals Win Top Honors at 2014 Conference

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Students & Professionals Win Top Honors at the Research Chefs Association 2014 Annual Conference & Culinology® Expo 

Food R&D Students and Professionals Gathered in Portland, OR, March 11 –14, for the 

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Atlanta, GA (April 15, 2014) — The Research Chefs Association’s (RCA) 2014 Annual Conference and Culinology® Expo brought nearly 1,300 food R&D students and professionals to Portland, OR, for a week of competition, education and food tastings all celebrating Culinology® —  the blending of the culinary arts and food science. 

“I’ve never seen so much energy, passion and thirst for knowledge and collaboration than I did this year in Portland,” says Charles Hayes, CRC®, RCA president. “Our conference competitions, showcased live on the Culinology® Expo floor for the first time, added to the excitement of the events and truly gave these teams the recognition they deserve.”

This year, hundreds attended the Expo on Thursday, March 13, where they viewed the Student and Professional Culinology® Competitions and sampled the latest in food product development from nearly 150 exhibiting companies. During the Culinology® Competitions, teams representing three countries executed a Pacific Northwest regional, food truck cuisine concept featuring a grab-and-go seafood item for school food service (grades 9-12) while addressing sodium concerns.   This year’s winners included: 

  • Professional Culinology® Competition: Jaime Mestan and Eric Stein took home the first place prize of $5,000 and American Culinary Federation medals for their complete meal concept “Whole Wheat Bao Buns with Steelhead Trout and Rogue Root Beer Glaze; Soba Noodle Salad; Marinated Vegetable Salad and Mixed Berry Creamsicle Pop.” 
  • Student Culinology® Competitions: Johnson & Wales University – Providence won the $5,000 top prize for their creation “Asian BBQ SeaDog in Steamed Bun with Veggies.”  
  • Culinology® Expo Product of the Year Award: Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcake created by California Garlic – Garlic King

Each year the RCA recognizes individuals for their contributions to the industry and the organization. The Pioneer of Culinology® Award is given each year to an individual who demonstrates the RCA’s mission of empowering the food community to enhance food experiences through Culinology®. The 2014 recipient, Kevin McDermott, International Flavors & Fragrances, is a founding member of the RCA and has been instrumental in bringing the synergy of food science and classic chef training to the industry. His peers recognize him a mentor and pioneer of bridging the gap between food science and the culinary arts. 

The RCA President’s Award is given each year to a member who demonstrates the highest level of commitment and excellence to the organization and the advancement of Culinology®. The 2014 recipient, Christian Hallowell of Gate Gourmet, goes above and beyond his duties as an RCA Regional key contact and always wears his RCA hat while juggling a multitude of other roles. His assurance and energy make him an invaluable member of the RCA and food R&D. 

In addition to recognizing industry leaders, the educational content at the RCA Annual Conference captivated the attendees. In particular, the keynote address by Jon Luther, former CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, who encouraged chefs to seek leadership positions and emphasized the importance of the “culinary warriors” in the kitchens and laboratories of major brands: “You are culinary warriors,” says Luther. “Warriors listen… Warriors take risks… Warriors are leaders.” 

“It was a week of engaging and informative content, with more demos, tastings and workshops than ever before,” says Jim Fowler, CAE, RCA executive director. 

Attendees walked away with a better understanding of artisanal European baking methods, how Campbell leverages culinary trends and how classical technique meets science from the many robust educational sessions offered during the week. To see a full listing of educational content, visit 

Several events from the Conference raised scholarship monies for the Research Chefs Foundation (RCF). Participation in the annual RCF Golf Tournament, 5K and the silent auction helped raise more than $10,000 in scholarship funds for higher and continuing education individuals practicing Culinology®. Altogether, in 2014, the RCF awarded $40,000 in scholarships to students and professionals pursuing or continuing their education in Culinology®. For a full listing of award and scholarship winners, visit 

The 2015 RCA Annual Conference & Culinology® Expo will take place March 24–27 in New Orleans, Louisiana. From jazz music and beignets to creole and art, in New Orleans food and culture are synonymous. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months or check 




About the Research Chefs Association:

Founded in 1996, the Research Chefs Association has rapidly grown to approximately 2,000 members, including chefs, food scientists, technologists, writers, nutritionists, academics, researchers, consultants, sales and marketing professionals, suppliers, co-packers, distributors and students.  RCA is the premier source of culinary and technical information for the food industry and is committed to the advancement of Culinology® -- the blending of the culinary arts and food science. For more information on Culinology® or the RCA, please visit