“Taste the Vibe” is the theme of this year’s Research Chefs Association (RCA) Conference, hosted at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego from April 15 to 17. In addition to celebrating San Diego’s multicultural cuisine—ranging from Mexican to Vietnamese to Italian—the conference will provide attendees with the opportunity to indulge in an oceanside exploration of culinary arts and food technology along with networking and educational opportunities that offer plenty of food for thought.
Kicking off the conference on Wednesday, April 15, will be Mike Kostyo, managing editor at Datassential, a leading market research and trends firm for the food industry. Kostyo will delve into the trends that are driving food in 2020, looking at the data related to plant-based cuisine, meat alternatives, lab-grown meats, and special diets. He will also cover global concepts, including street food and African cuisine.
Another highlight of Wednesday’s agenda will be Chef Francisco Migoya’s presentation on the innovative baking techniques he discovered while co-writing the book Modernist Bread. Among the subjects he will cover are dough extensibility, the role of steam in baking, and how to use science to address common baking problems. On Thursday, April 16, TC Chatterjee, CEO of Griffith Foods, will share his views on Griffith’s approach to sustainability and the practices it engages in to provide delicious food in ways that respect the environment. And on Friday, April 17, attendees can learn how to start a sandwich war from Amy Alarcon and Nick Pajor, the culinary team leaders behind Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen’s chicken sandwich.
Among the many thought-provoking breakout sessions offered throughout the conference is “Operation Innovations: How New Concepts Will Change the Industry,” presented on Wednesday by Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters. The session will discuss ghost kitchens, delivery-only concepts, tech-based ordering, and other developments that will affect menu innovation and play a role in redefining what a restaurant will look like. Sessions on managing your career, led by Bob Ryan, principal of Shields Meneley Partners, and the role of neuroscience and artificial intelligence in driving food industry innovation, presented by author and global business consultant A. K. Pradeep, will also take place on Wednesday.
Among the topics to be covered on Thursday and Friday are “Cognitive Function: Ties to Stress, Sleep, Memory, Depression, and Energy Concerns and Which Foods and Beverages Can Benefit Them,” “Culinology of Cell-Based Seafood—The BlueNalu Story,” “From Restaurant to Retail: Foraging Ideas From an Ever-changing Landscape,” “What is Your Flavor? A Culinary Ethnographic Approach to New Product and Menu Items Development,” “’C-Suite Chefs’ Discovering the Secret Recipe,” and “CRAEVS: Clean Label Research Through Agile Evolutions Into Stores.”
New this year are three premium sessions designed to provide attendees with a heightened sensory experience in a small group setting. The sessions—which include “Japanese Sake Explained and Appreciated: A Guided Sake Tasting,” “Say Cheese!” and “The Latest and Greatest on Mocktails”—will take place on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., with registration limited to 25 people per session.
Networking is one of the prime motivators for attending the conference, and the 2020 expo includes an outstanding lineup of opportunities. Wednesday’s events include a networking lunch and an opening reception at the Hard Rock Hotel. On Thursday, attendees can take part in a happy hour at the San Diego Convention Center and an RCA white party and culinology cocktail competition at the Hard Rock Hotel. On Friday, a regional breakfast will be hosted at the Hard Rock Hotel, with regional chairs available to address members and answer questions.
Rounding out the networking activities is a Culinology Education Foundation lunch at the Hard Rock, which will feature a family-style lunch provided by Jon Eyer, executive chef of the Hard Rock San Diego.
To learn more about the Research Chefs Association and/or register for the Annual Conference & Culinology Expo, visit culinology.org.