The weather was warm, and the food was even hotter in Dallas last month during the Research Chefs Association (RCA) Annual Conference and Culinology Expo.
Held at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel and adjoining convention centre, this year’s program included an interesting mix of social and professional networking opportunities, as well as information and educational sessions. The approximately 1,300 participants attending this year’s conference chose from topics ranging from practical solutions in product development, trend forecasting, working with food colourants, and culinary communications, to career-oriented programs focused on training and professional development. As always, the poster presentations on scientific research and culinary innovations, and the Student Culinology Competition, now in its third year, were popular events with attendees.
As well as student and professional networking opportunities, the RCA hosted a number of social receptions, including its entertaining Opening Reception, this year taking place in the garden of Dallas’ Nasher Sculpture Center. Amidst the one-of-a-kind collection of floodlit artwork, chefs from some of Dallas’ top restaurants – including Abacus, Five-Sixty, The Mansion Restaurant and Nana – served mouth-watering appetizer samples. New to the conference this year was a 5K fun run/one-mile walk, with money raised in aid of the Bill “Pops” Hahne and the Michele Block Memorial Scholarship Funds.
Other highlights of the conference were the presentations by keynote speaker Carlos Barroso, senior vice-president, Global R&D Foods for PepsiCo., and chef Richard Blais, culinary designer at Chicago’s Trail-Blais. While Barroso discussed new global product development that accounts for different cultural tastes and flavours, Blais gave a hands-on demonstration of how to incorporate molecular gastronomy techniques in recipe creation.
This year’s Culinology Expo featured about 150 exhibitors, many of whom featured healthy and ethnic-inspired ingredients, as well as products aimed at convenience and ease of use.
Next year’s RCA Conference takes place in Phoenix, Ariz.