The RCA (Research Chefs Association) Annual Conference and Culinology Expo took place from March 24th through 27th 2015 in New Orleans. The four day event at the Morial Convention Center brought together research chefs, marketers, product developers, R&D and Innovation professionals and many more from the food industry.
Tuesday the 24th kicked off the event with pre-conference workshops as well as a French Quarter food tour and a classic New Orleans cocktail tour featuring some of NOLA’s most famous food and drinks. The food tour included a roux cooking demonstration by a Creole Chef, as well as tasty samplings of Seafood Gumbo, Muffuletta, Beef Brisket with Creole Sauce, Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp Remoulade and Turtle Soup. Next time you're in the French Quarter be sure to check out Antoine's Restaurant, Cafe Du Monde, Brennan's and Central Grocery, among many others.
The Drinks tour also featured alot of interesting and historic bars in the French quarter. We sampled the sazerac (made with rye, absinthe, Peychaud's bitters and sugar) in the Hermes Bar at Antoine's as well as the French 75 (made with cognac, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and champagne) at Arnaud's Restaurant. Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant is another great place that should be on your list to visit for a drink while your in the French Quarter. Order the Gin Fizz!
Day two begun the first full day of breakout sessions including Exploring Cajun and Creole Foodways for Modern Gluten-Free Diets and Understanding Mouth Behavior and How it Changes Everything in Your Food Design.
Another interesting breakout session on day two featured R&D Chef and author Robert Danhi along with Karena Wong, a research consultant for Chef Danhi & Co Inc who presented on how to capture and translate food tours into your R&D process. The pair used a case study of their trip to Viet Nam to illustrate their process. The presentation featured exciting methodology and methods for turning food tours into real business.
Day two’s general session, titled Culinary Analysis: Flavor Trends at Street Level was presented by Gerry Ludwig, CEC at Gordon Food Service. Chef Ludwig covered many current trends from his most recent research around the U.S. including the evolution of the gourmet hot dogs and closing of the famous Hot Doug’s Restaurant in Chicago. He also presented sections on interesting new breakfast bowl concepts and vegetables taking center stage on menus around the U.S.
The conclusion to day two brought an exciting end to a day packed with information and learning, as hundreds of conference attendees packed into Generations Hall, a few blocks away from the Morial Center for the RCA Opening Reception. Symrise sponsored the opening event and brought the streets of New Orleans into Generations Hall with a Lucky Dog Cart serving up Muffaletta Dogs featuring Symrise flavors. The Muffaletta dogs were inspired by the gourmet dog trend and New Orleans cuisine and featured ham, salami, cheese, and olive salad with Symrise Sunspice Garlic (Fried) flavor.
Members of the Symrise Culinary Team, including Brenda Waite, Culinary Team Leader, Chef Noah Michaels, Chef Ron Spaziani and Chef Alexa Weeks served up the mufuletta dogs along with Chris Santilli, Senior Category Director Savory Business Unit and Dylan Thompson of the Marketing, Sensory and Consumer Insights team. The dogs were a hit, as a line formed quickly and stayed multiple people deep for the almost the entire length of the opening reception.
Day three of RCA kicked off with a keynote address from famous New Orleans Chef John Besh. Chef Besh gave an inspiring talk about all things New Orleans, staying humble and authentic in the kitchen and his charity work which is helping many aspiring chefs in the NOLA region. The Culinology Expo was also held on day three with many vendors featuring samples during the lunchtime and afternoon hours as well as the Student Culinology Completion which took place for most of the day on Thursday.
The final day of RCA was full of interesting break-out sessions including a culinary trend outlook, a flavor and sensory presentation and an interesting talk on Developing Products for Generation We (consumers born 1996-2010). This presentation provided an in depth look at Generation We and how they consume food an beverage. We learned that Generation We is all about snacking, sharing, interactivity and connectivity. They are looking for food that tastes good, is fresh, and easily prepared. They also want global flavors, authentic ethnic, fruits and veggies, whole grains, and bold flavors. Other presentations during the event included Food Labeling, The Booming Natural Food Market, and Cheese Umami.
Overall, RCA 2015 was a success for Symrise filled with lots of great conversations and meetings with colleagues and customers, education, awareness and inspiration. The week was also filled with lots of great food, of course including meals at Herbsaint, Square Root, Toups’ Meatery, Root, and Willie Mae’s Scotch House. We are ready for RCA – Denver 2016!