Celebrity chefs received widespread attention at the Research Chefs Association (RCA) 2012 Annual Conference and Culinology Expo in San Antonio. Throughout the conference, the chefs showed just how much their influence has grown in the development and formulation of processed food products from the major manufacturers. This was evident at the Expo, where well over 100 food ingredient companies pitched their products to corporate chefs from major customer companies such as Kraft, Kellogg, Unilever and Nestle.
The chefs were also featured at numerous private events held throughout the city’s bustling restaurant district. The one that seemed to have the most buzz starred celebrity TV chef and restaurateur, John Besh, at his popular restaurant,Lüke, on the San Antonio River Walk. Sponsored by Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings and ConAgra Mills, the event featured a delicious menu of small plate items prepared with ingredients, spices and flavors provided by the sponsors to the chef’s team. One popular item was Spicy Bam Bam Shrimp in a tempura batter made with Ultragrain® White Whole Wheat Flour and a Spicetec seasoning blend of Sriracha and vinegar flavors. The menu drew rave reviews, and guests were excited to talk serious food with Chef Besh and his team.
One of our favorite chefs every year at RCA is Chef Robert Danhi. Chef Danhi got his share of buzz for his great new cookbook, “Easy Thai Cooking,” featuring family-style dishes easily prepared at home. The book and companion video are available on Chef Danhi’s website.
Chef Gerri Bouchard, the corporate research chef for Eatem Foods, also drew a lot of attention for her innovative flavor systems. Food application samples featuring those flavor systems included an intriguing Pho Bo with cilantro, jalapeno and Thai basil.
Corporate chefs, research chefs and their product development colleagues will continue to be a major influence on the formulation and development of new processed food products. Expect to see food ingredient marketers focus even more of their efforts on chefs in the future.