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The evolution of culinology

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News from the Research Chefs Association's RCA 2017 Annual Conference & Culinology Expo; RCA's regional Lunch & Learns; and a tour of the Culinary Institute of Canada

By John Placko

Last month the Research Chefs Association (RCA) communicated very exciting news about the make-over of the brand at the RCA 2017 Annual Conference & Culinology Expo held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This announcement included the new mission statement, an enhanced vision, a refreshed tagline and a new logo.

Vision: As a pioneer in the discipline of Culinology, the Research Chefs Association integrates food science and culinary arts expertise to elevate product development.

Mission: The Research Chefs Association cultivates collaborations between the chefs and food science professionals who develop food to increase innovation, quality and speed-to-market.

Tagline: Blending culinary arts and food sciences.

I’ve been part of the RCA for the past 20 years and I see this as a positive move to reinvigorate the organization. The new logo certainly represents the chefs and food scientists who make up the majority of the membership. The Certified Research Chef (CRC) and Certified Culinary Scientist (CCS) logos have also been updated and will be communicated soon.

At a recent RCA regional Lunch & Learn Workshop hosted by Chef Martin Daniels at Maple Leaf Foods in Mississauga, Ont., two guest speakers presented after a wonderful lunch designed and served by Daniels and his team. There was also a sponsor showcase at the workshop featuring Brenntag Canada, Dealers Ingredients, Culinary Institute of Canada (Holland College), Giraffe Foods and NSF International.

Daniels gave a recap of his career with insights into the culinary world of creating home meal replacement (HMR) in the UK right before it became a massive trend there. Next up was Chef Austin Clement, program manager for the culinary programs at the Culinary Institute of Canada, who presented the new CCS preparatory course necessary to prepare to write the RCA certification. The Culinary Institute of Canada, Griffith Foods, and Canada’s Smartest Kitchen are offering this unique training opportunity for product development professionals. The course was designed to minimize the time away from work while being flexible and portable. The RCA requires 120 training hours, so this course is divided into two parts over an eight-month period. Online course work, which is over two 14-week blocks, is followed by two five-day turns at the college in beautiful PEI overlooking the waters of Charlottetown.

Becoming a CCS is proven to create better culinary solutions, increase product success rates, decrease time to market as well as decrease development costs, and increase career development and advancement opportunities, just to name a few benefits. And one of the main benefits is increasing the success rate of passing the CCS examination. You can find more information about this course at

I had the pleasure of touring the Culinary Institute of Canada last summer with two chefs I used to work with at the Hilton Harbour Castle in the mid-1980s, Richard Braunauer and Christian Marchsteiner. They are now both pastry instructors at the college, and my wife Judie and I had the opportunity to dine with them at the school’s Lucy Maud Dining Room. I was very impressed with the service, food and the view of the water. Soon after being in PEI I met up with Marchsteiner and the student team from the college in Erfurt Germany at the Culinary Olympics. Although there isn’t a student section for the regional cold display section, the student team entered the professional ranks and scored two gold medals for its pastry arts and culinary arts. The team’s overall score was less than two points from placing them third in the world in the regional team section — an astonishing result for a student team in a professional category.

The last speaker in the Lunch & Learn Workshop at Maple Leaf Foods was Leigh Parsons, manager, Training Programs, Training and Education Services at NSF International (formerly GFTC), who told the group about food science and related courses offered by NSF to refresh food science knowledge and gain practical and technical information needed to develop, manufacture and launch safe and high-quality products. NSF Training and Education Services is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). Training courses are offered in HACCP, GFSI Benchmarked Standards, regulations, Food Safety Modernization Act , food safety and quality, ISO Standards, food microbiology and food science, production and packaging.

Of particular interest to the group was the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Certified Food Scientist (CFS) Preparatory Course, available through NSF and found online at, designed to prepare food science professionals for the CFS certification, the first-of-its-kind certification for food professionals worldwide recognizing the applied scientific knowledge and skills of food scientists. The two-day CFS Preparatory Course is an optional course for those interested in obtaining their IFT CFS credential, and has proven to be a valuable refresher. To qualify to take the exam, participants were advised to apply through the IFT website to confirm they are eligible based on education and experience in the field. The exam and preparatory course cover the concepts of food chemistry and food analysis, food engineering, food microbiology, food safety, product development, quality assurance/quality control, regulatory and sensory evaluation/consumer testing. All areas of the CFS exam are covered in the CFS Preparatory Course and sample questions are reviewed to better prepare participants for the exam, which is offered during designated testing cycles. For a list of upcoming testing dates and to search for testing centres near you, visit A basic understanding of food science concepts is critical for anyone attending this program.

The CFS is designed to meet the International Standards Organization (ISO) 17024 standard for personnel certification programs. All registrants in the CFS Preparatory Course will have their name and contact details shared with IFT and CIFST upon completion of the course for the purpose of sharing exam dates and other information about the organization.

John Placko is culinary director, Modern Culinary Academy and Bar 120: Cuisine Transformed, Pearson International Airport. Contact him at (416) 666-9544 or at

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