Innovation & Inspiration: Symrise’s 2017 New York Rising Stars Roundtable Discussion

*All photos are courtesy of Starchefs

Recently, Symrise collaborated with StarChefs’ Editor in Chief Antoinette Bruno to host the 2017 Rising Stars Roundtable Discussion at Steelite USA’s showroom in New York City. Several Symrise clients had full access to New York’s hottest Rising Star chefs and bartenders ( to discuss inspiration and innovation. The panel included:

Angela Dimayuga, executive chef for Mission Chinese Food NYC (, serving inventive Americanized Asian dishes in both San Francisco and New York.

• Executive chef and owner of ATOBOY ( Junghyun Park, who combines a casual fine dining experience and Korean family-style cuisine.

Jon Nodler, the culinary director of High Street Hospitality Group, actively cooks and runs the operations in High Street on Market ( and + bar (, PA), as well as High Street on Hudson ( in New York City.

Jesse Vida is the head bartender at the recently opened Blacktail (, the Cuban-inspired sister bar of The Dead Rabbit (, one of New York’s award winning cocktail bars.

   Johnny Iuzzini ( is an award-winning pastry chef, cookbook author, and TV personality. He is currently working on creating his own company, Chocolate by Johnny Iuzzini, with a ‘bean to chocolate bar’ concept.

After brief introductions, Symrise’s Vice President of Marketing and Consumer Insight Emmanual Laroche guided the panel through a series of questions about culinary innovation, sparking interesting conversations and insight to the savory, sweet, and beverage categories.

Where do Rising Stars find their inspiration? Both Park and Iuzzini are highly influenced by seasonality. In the kitchen at ATOBOY, Park offers high-quality dishes at a lower price. “We have a three-course tasting menu for $36,” he says. “I used to work at a restaurant that was in the $200 range. But if you know how to make a dish well, you can do it. You can find ways to substitute ingredients to keep costs down.” Park looks to balance both fresh and fermented ingredients to try to find the delicate balance of flavors. 

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While his medium has a much longer shelf life, Iuzzini pairs chocolate with ingredients currently at their peak ripeness. He finds his best brainstorms originate from lists. “First, I write down everything currently in season. The next column lists everything I’ve ever made with those ingredients. Finally, I look at what complements the flavors.”

Iuzzini uses a technique examining his past to create innovation of the future. Dimayuga’s approach is different—she examines the present Mission Chinese Food menu to see what’s lacking. “We are always thinking about Asian food, but we can draw inspiration from everything. The Asian is just an anchor. I look at what is missing in terms of texture and flavor. I examine the components of flavors and try to find the best substitutes. It’s a jigsaw puzzle of what I’m currently into.”

The executive chef also mentioned she was recently inspired by a trip to Iceland, incorporating the country’s street side dehydrated fish, and adapting it for a salad she was currently tweaking. Johnny echoed connecting inspiration and travel, noting he worked around the world early in his career. “Go on a trip. You’ll find yourself,” he says. “It made me realize how much I didn’t know. I was working flavors I was aware of, but never really put together before.”

Many of the chefs agreed traveling was a source of inspiration, but Nodler balanced the discussion by offering High Street’s celebration of locale. “We cook with context,” he says. “Whether that’s historical context or personal context, we take those points and connect them back to the restaurant. It’s the same creative process in both New York and Philly, but by making things regionalized, we have a different way of incorporating context to locale.”

CLICK HERE to view the Top Trends for 2017 from Starchefs ICC!

Nodler went on to explain the staff works together to find balance between salty, sweet, fatty and fresh. “We try to bring out the maximum flavor for everything. Food is flavor-forward. It’s about finding the right balance. We execute certain techniques to change the flavor. We try to put two flavors together and push it as far as we can.”

When creating new cocktails at Blacktail, Vida mentioned he was inspired by flavor. “When it comes to cocktails, we’re always looking to take the edge off spirits in different ways. I like to connect ingredients; maybe I don’t use something to make it the focus, but maybe it plays a supportive role to the star.”

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