Whether you're interested in emerging and international culinary trends, sustainability, innovations in the food industry or meeting local influencers, the RCA Conference is your professional home for inspiration and continuing education. Click on the session titles to learn more.


Avoiding the Consumer Cold Shoulder in the "Free From" Food Era

Christina Meyer-Jax MS, RDN, LDN, CLTFood Strategist and Registered Dietitian , Nutrition Up, LLC

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Food allergies, sensitivities, and health driven eating styles at an all time high. The results are consumers seeking customized products and restaurants menus to meet their diets needs. This interactive session will explore the science, trends, and solutions to help you create delicious food solutions that just happen to be "free from" ingredients consumers are avoiding.

Moonlite Bar-B-Q: A Unique Perspective on Innovation

Patrick BosleyCorporate Vice President, Moonlite BBQ Inn, Inc.

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Originating in 1963 as a 20-seat diner, Moonlite is a family owned Bar-B-Q company. Over the decades Moonlite has grown to a 350 seat restaurant with a USDA processing facility for wholesale foods, a mail order BBQ division, a carryout department, and full service catering. Moonlite has become a signature attraction for Owensboro Kentucky earning many awards and national recognition. One of Moonlite’s challenges is remaining true to the past while keeping relevant in the present. Many original ingredients have discontinued forcing Moonlite to adapt recipes or recreate the ingredients. Business come and go, health department or USDA rules change, suppliers change, environmental seasons or shifts affect quality and supply of ingredients. Through it all, Moonlite attempts to innovate not to be different, but to stay the same.

Fermentation: The Past, Present and Future

Robert DanhiCurator of Cultures, Flavor360

Karena WongDirector of Research, Flavor360

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Take a journey though time as this session leads you through a science based culinary perspective fermented foods that are the foundational flavor globally. We will explore how enzymes and bacteria breakdown proteins to release taste active compounds that you can take advantage of in your R&D work to maximize flavor, reduce sodium and create foods that customers will crave.

2019 Menu Trends: The Cutting Edge

Mike KostyoSenior Publications Manager, Datassential

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Datassential's resident Trendologist, Mike Kostyo, uncovers the menu trends that should be on your radar in the year – and years – ahead. This isn't your typical trend forecast – these are the really cutting-edge, brand new flavors, ingredients, concepts, and changes that you've never seen before. We'll cover the evolution of health and wellness as it moves into the Healthy 4.0 stage – hyper-personalization (think DNA diets), the flavors and ingredients from global cuisines that Datassential's machine learning artificial intelligence engine, Haiku, predicts will grow in the next four years, and we'll show you how you can start using those flavors today with the help of the Menu Adoption Cycle.

Sponsored by

Beverage Landscape Review for an On-Trend Beverage Menu

Andy Dratt, Chief Commercial Officer, Imbibe

1:30 P.M. – 2:30 P.M.

The functional beverage category is projected to grow, and the innovation we witness comes in the form of increasingly sophisticated formulations that highlight newly discovered (or often re-discovered) benefits of ingredients. Some consumers are striving to figure out what beverages are delivering the nutrients and functions they’re after and are demanding better-for-you options in the form of lower-calorie, reduced-sugar, and more naturally positioned products. Others gravitate towards the instagrammable, novel and indulgent (though not necessarily mutually exclusive). This session will highlight some of the hottest beverage categories and feature some of the most disruptive products that are blazing the trail for future innovation. In addition to inspiring new product offerings through an overview of on-trend products (many of which fall in the functional category), real-world case studies will be presented to demonstrate strategies to enhance foodservice beverage offerings that address consumers’ ever-changing demands. Throughout this session, we will explore both popular and less well-known ingredients, how these ingredients manifest in beverages, and how the market will change in the next several years. Attendees will come away with an understanding of the most prevalent beverage trends, functional and versatile ingredients and novel technologies to incorporate into their menu to help capture a wider segment of consumers and ultimately increase sales.

Cheese Chemistry: Interesting Things to Know When Incorporating Cheese in Foods
Tonya C. Schoenfuss, PhD, University of Minnesota

1:30 P.M. – 2:30 P.M.

Cheese can provide amazing sensory attributes to foods. Challenges can occur however due to natural cheese variability, or when changing cheese types, or trying to improve health (such as fat or sodium reduction). This session will highlight how changes starting with milk source and continuing through the time you receive it to use, affect your experience when using cheese in food products.

C-Store Confidential

Nick PowellSenior Corporate Chef, QuikTrip

1:30 P.M. – 2:30 P.M.

As the country's food landscape changes, convenience stores continue to gain share from traditional segments. But what role do Food Innovation and chefs play in this unique environment? Come learn how an industry leader is using its culinary, innovation, and product development wiles to overcome the stigma of "gas station food."

Sponsored by

Tyson Innovation Lab: Where Entrepreneurship Meets CPG
Barbara Coty, R&D Craftsman, Tyson Innovation Lab

1:30 P.M. – 2:30 P.M.

Join Barbara Coty in her journey with the Tyson Innovation Lab, and the disruption of traditional business processes and categories.


Applications for the New FDA Sugar Labeling Law

Jim PainterAdjunct Professor, University of Texas-Houston

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

With ever increasing demands from consumers for clean labels, manufacturers are looking to remove ingredients that consumers either don’t understand or think are unhealthy and replace these with “whole-food”, nutritious ingredients. One of the main ingredients consumers are trying to limit is added sugar. By using “whole-food” natural ingredients, chefs can remove added sugar and instead use natural sweeteners that are recognized and liked by consumers. This presentation will share techniques to use fruit ingredients, and non-nutritive sweeteners or low-calorie sweeteners in place of added sugar. Using fruit ingredients not only decreases added sugars but also increases the nutritional value of products by adding fiber and micronutrients. When consumers ask for comfort desserts and snacks that bring them memories of their grandmother’s kitchen, chefs can turn to fruit ingredients to help them provide the same comfort foods, with an improved nutritional profile.

Attacking Snacks: Consumer Behavior Shifts and Menu Trends Around the Snacking Occasion

Lizzy FreierManaging Editor, Menu Analysis, Technomic, Inc.

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Snacking continues to play a major role in our daily routines. Consumers snack nearly three times per day on average, and the way they think about snacking has evolved to now include a wider variety of foods and beverages. In this presentation, Lizzy Freier will discuss how restaurant operators are adapting to these changing needs and the shifting foodservice environment as a whole. She will cover current menu trends around snacking, including both menu and consumer data, powered by Technomic. She will conclude with takeaways regarding these menu adaptations and offer insights on future snacking trends.

Foodservice Best Practice in Collaborative Innovation

Tim HandPartner, Kinetic12 Consulting

LeAnne GarouttePartner, Kinetic12 Consulting

Marshall Scarborough
Director, Culinary Innovation, Wendy's
Justin KanthakNational Account Director, Griffith Foods, Inc.
Jaime MestanDirector of Bistro, Vienna Beef

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Is there a better way to drive great innovation between suppliers and operators? Yes, there is! And collaboration is the key. Hear about an exciting new industry best practice called “Foodservice Collaborative Innovation”, developed by a board of 35 manufacturers and chain operators, and the RCA. This best practice was designed to foster and guide improved cross-functional relationships between operators and suppliers to create relevant new products and services to build consumer satisfaction and demand. You will walk away with key learnings to activate within your organization.

Partners from Kinetic12 Consulting, LeAnne Garoutte and Tim Hand, who led this best practice in conjunction with the RCA, will talk with 3 industry innovation experts who were on the best practice development board.

Sponsored by

Healthy Plus Sustainable is the Next Generation of Clean

Linda GilbertFounder and CEO, EcoFocus Worldwide

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Healthy, clean, and sustainable are the agents for innovation in 2019. It’s all about personal health for consumers, from clean ingredients, to clean processing, to clean packaging. This presentation will share trends in consumer attitudes and actions toward healthy and sustainable food and beverage choices, and offer thought leadership for innovation. A clean label tends to minimize the ingredient statement and eliminate food additives that have important functional and protective properties that can be addressed by packaging innovation.

Steelhead from Norway: The Next Wave in Sustainable Seafood

John LiveraConsulting Chef, Norwegian Seafood Council

12:00 P.M. – 12:30 P.M.

Sourced sustainably from Norway’s cold clear waters, Norwegian Steelhead Trout's growth is on track to equal or surpass the incredible growth of Norwegian Salmon. Through the original, and best farming practices in the world Norway’s fisheries continue to improve and produce incredible seafood. Our discussion will showcase how Norwegian Steelhead Trout can be a versatile ingredient for your kitchen and meet the needs of today's restaurant guest.

The Magic Of Natural Colors

AnnMarie KraszewskiApplications Scientist, Natural Colors, Chr. Hansen Natural Colors

12:00 P.M. – 12:30 P.M.

A presentation of Technomics research regarding consumer attitudes towards natural ingredients in restaurant and packaged goods foods, followed by a vivid demonstration of using natural colors in unique applications.

Cheese University: Intensified Cheese Without EMCs

Kevin StraussNational Account Manager - Technical Sales, Sartori Cheese

1:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.

Join Sartori Cheese for a demo featuring Natureal Pure®, a line of intensified 100% real cheeses that can assist in lowering costs, creating a clean label, and improving product nutritionals.

An Old Fashioned Deep Dive

Clint RogersUS Brand Application Manager/Lead Mixologist, Kerry Foodservice

1:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.

An exploration into the history of the old fashioned cocktail as well as it's construction in the past, present, and the future.

The ABCs of California Almond Varieties

Nan NanSenior Specialist — Trade Marketing and Stewardship,, Almond Board of California

2:00 P.M. – 2:30 P.M.

Join the Almond Board of California for an educational and interactive tasting of some of the many almond varieties grown in California orchards. Nan Nan, Senior Specialist, Trade Marketing and Stewardship at the Almond Board of California, will discuss the distinguishing characteristics, flavor and texture differences, and harvest timing across varieties. In addition to the tasting, attendees will also learn best practices for storing and roasting specific types of almonds and best uses for each in manufacturing and culinary applications.

Culinary Created. Chef Approved. Plant Protein & Taste.

Phil SteplerManager, Culinary Innovation, ADM

2:00 P.M. – 2:30 P.M.

Coming soon!

Predictive Microbiology of Sous Vide Cooking

Roger Maehler, Ph.D.Senior Director R&D, Newly Weds Foods

3:00 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.

Sous vide cooking should minimize the hazards of cooking, but there are certainly some conditions that elevate risk. Predictive microbiological tools make it easy to see where additional interventions or rigorous validation is required.


Anticipating the Impact of Middle Eastern Cuisine

Maeve WebsterPresident, Menu Matters

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

The inspiration from and influence of world cuisines is radically changing how consumers and chefs approach food. Flavors, preparations and formats from the Middle East will be among the most impactful over the next few years. Just as there are macro trends driving the adoption of Middle Eastern foods and beverages, there are challenges to future growth. Understanding the opportunities and barriers is critical to effectively leveraging this trend. From the pioneer elements of Middle Eastern cuisine to those that redefine what authentic means to this region, this presentation will explore the complex issues involved with evaluating and optimizing the use of Middle Eastern cuisine as well as future cuisine trends.

Opportunities and Challenges for Innovation With Cannabis-Infused Products

Shehzad HooseinExecutive Vice President, Cannabistry Labs

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

R&D/Product Development and Commercialization in the Cannabis Industry presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges. The most exciting opportunity within this space is the potential to create a whole range of innovations, leveraging existing technology form various industries to bring to life product offerings that truly meet the consumers’ needs. And further, the potential to invent disruptive technologies and products that will change the way consumer’s interface with the product. The unique element of PD within this industry is the confluence of extraction technology, formulation-stability, efficacy, bioavailability, flavor, delivery system, ergonomics, packaging and branding, which requires a new approach to product development. As the industry expands and matures, there are two key areas that we must focus on and improve. Specifically, enforcing food safety standards, GMPs and best practices from food/beverage and pharma industries, and bearing social responsibility to ensure packaging and branding is executed so as not to appeal to minors. It is vital that we raise the standard and commitment towards safety and social responsibility not only to protect consumers, but also in to ensure that Regulators continuously gain confidence with on-going practices. Finally, there are several institutional challenges that need to be navigated while commercializing products. This presentation will focus on three challenges. First, technical skill at operational/manufacturing level is improving but has significant additional room from growth. Second, volumes are still low compared to other industries resulting in challenges in equipment scoping and min. order quantities on raw materials. Finally, varying and constantly evolving regulations, which require significant efforts behind brand renovation, redesigns.

Taking Back Breakfast: Moving Beyond the Morning Occasion

Amanda TopperAssociate Director of Foodservice, Mintel

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Americans' attitudes toward breakfast are shifting, with less than half of consumers agreeing breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In this session, attendees will learn why the morning occasion is declining in importance, and what chefs and manufacturers can do to stay relevant amid the evolving breakfast and brunch landscape. Participants will get a glimpse into factors impacting the breakfast occasion, as well as consumer behavior, preferences, and attitudes about breakfast and brunch. Attendees will leave with actionable opportunities to consider when developing a breakfast or brunch program for food service or retail.

Bourbon: An American Story

Kaveh ZamanianFounder, CEO, Rabbit Hole Distillery

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Rabbit Hole Founder and Whiskey Maker Kaveh Zamanian explores bourbon history, his innovative brand, and the connection between bourbon and food.

Professional and Student Abstract Presentations

1:30 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.

Food Not Drugs: Real Food Alternatives to Oral Nutrition Supplements
Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., Drexel University

Acceptability of Crocodile Meat Products as a Sustainable Protein Source for South African Consumers
Nerike Uys, University Of Pretoria

Optimization of Formulation of Gluten-Free Pasta Enriched With Protein Using Pulse Protein Isolates
Viral Shukla, California State Polytechnic University Pomona

Chirpy Jerky
Gabrielle K. Gravois, University of Holy Cross

The Importance of Canned Food's Drained Weight
Cierra Varnado, University of Holy Cross

The Effect of Enzymatic Pretreatments on Commercially Produced Carrot Mash
Alexandra Duval, Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

RCA CRC® and CCS® Updates

2:30 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.

RCA is proud to announce a transition to internet-based testing on March 15, 2019. The first internet-based testing will take place at RCA's Annual Conference 2019. To align with the transition to internet-based testing, the RCACC is proud to announce an updated exam blueprints and study guide for both the CRC® and CCS® exams.

RCA follows strict certification practice to create and maintain our certification programs. The practices include many round of quality control to ensure that the CRC® and CCS® certification programs represent current and best practices in Culinology®.

Innovation Roundtables

LeAnne GarouttePartner, Kinetic12 Consulting

2:30 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.

Join us for an interactive round table discussion with your peers to discuss ideas and share best practices in collaborative innovation. We will discuss pertinent topics for building a more effective approach to innovation in order to drive profitable growth. The session will be facilitated by Kinetic12.