In 1994, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) was holding its annual convention and chefs involved in product development decided to get together, says Chef Ed Harazak, executive chef at International Food Solutions. “We decided that we needed our own organization because we were spending a lot of our time at the ACF meeting working on projects related to product development.”
The RCA has grown into an international organization that includes food scientists and technologists in product development for the retail and foodservice industries.
A Network of SupportThe RCA is the place to network with decision-makers in product development. If you are interested in the trend toward the use of artisan cheeses, the production issues behind foie gras, how to effectively target kids in developing products or the effective use of starch systems, the annual convention is the place to be.
The RCA is also an international organization attracting members from a number of countries. One example is Chef Wendy Baskerville, the product development manager for Tricon Global Restaurants (Canada) Inc. She says, “As an RCA member, I have an incredible resource for gathering knowledge that expands my general technical skills and that speaks to specific development problems whenever they arise.”
A Love of Food and KnowledgeThe RCA differentiates itself from similar organizations, such as the ACF and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), by defining itself by its love of food. It has evolved into an organization that benefits people involved in food processing, and its members demonstrate a healthy interest in the culinary arts and in the science of mass production. The RCA realizes that not everyone who has a positive impact on product development will be a chef, but that culinary knowledge is essential in producing the best-tasting products.
The organization has promoted actively the education of its members and presented the first national program for the certification of research chefs in 1999. A Certified Research Chef (CRC) is a chef who has demonstrated knowledge in the areas of food science applicable in product development. In 2000, the RCA announced Rutgers University was developing a course to help CRC candidates prepare for written exams. Titled “The Art and Science of New Food Development,” the first of the technical workshops in the Culinology™ 101 series was offered this fall.
Next March, at the annual convention, a certification program for the title Certified Culinary Scientist (CCS) will be announced. The CCS will be for those individuals who have a technical background, in addition to culinary arts training.
So, whether you are interested in helping to form regional meetings for the RCA or merely showing up to enjoy the annual conventions, the RCA is a great place to learn!