Pacific Northwest Region, October 2010

The World of Candy Seminar


Culinary Institute of America - St. Helena, California

By Rachel Zemser

As the RCA regional contact for the Pacific Northwest Region (Northern California through Idaho), it is my job to organize RCA networking functions and events that bring together food scientists and chefs from across the PNW region. Lucky for me, there are tons of active industry members in both the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Association of Candy Technologists who also organize events and sometimes I connect with them and alert RCA members and potential members to those events.

On October 7th, the AACT and RCA got together in St. Helena for The World of Candy, a one day seminar held at the Culinary Institute of America. This all day event was sponsored by Cargill, Dadant & Company, American Licorice Co and Westnut. The seminar included both technical presentations and culinary demos, which was the perfect combination for anyone interested in both the creative and technical side of the food industry.

The morning started with an excellent presentation on global marketing by Lynn Dornblaser, director of CPG Trend Insight at Mintel. Lynn covered all the latest and greatest confectionary trends coming out of Asia and Latin America. Asia is heavy on fruit flavors, sour flavors and cooling sensations, while Latin America focuses more on nuts, chocolate and sweet heat. We then got to learn the latest industry news in artificial colors. Aaron Johnson from American Licorice Company explained that the FDA is working on its own review of artificial colors in response to the June 2010 report issued by the CSPI. In the mean time, since we don’t really know what will come of all this, we should all start taking a look at the natural color alternatives on the market. Marty Gil, a food scientist and sales representative from GNT , a company that manufactures natural fruit and vegetable extracts was in the audience –so for anyone wanting to get a head start on their search, he is your man!

Then we had lunch in the CIA’s Barrel Room:  a salad with Gravenstein apples, Pt. Reyes blue cheese, orange supreme and a Champagne-shallot vinaigrette. The entrée was roasted chicken, Spanish romesco sauce, and crispy polenta cakes. Dessert was….. no dessert!

We didn’t get any dessert because right after lunch we saw two culinary demos on Asian and Latin flavors by bay area pastry chefs Claudia Zinn and William Werner. Claudia made us meringue cookies and marshmallows, and William served up chocolate marshmallows dusted with chili powder and cookies made from freeze dried corn powder. Turns out William got the freeze dried corn powder from Oregon freeze dried, so it was a great example of a regular non-research chef taking advantage of the fun industrial ingredients that the food scientists have been condemned by Michael Pollan for using in the development of their retail products.

The last demo of the day was by Michael Recchiuti, owner of Recchiuti Confections, a bay area chocolate company that combines chocolate with tarragon, grapefruits, star anise and pink peppercorns. Michael demonstrated which chocolates paired (and didn’t pair) with red wine, sherry, beer and bourbon. My favorite was the burned sugar chocolate that he paired with a sweet fortified Spanish sherry.

Thanks to Maria Vargas, Marion Saroni, Rick Richard, Bob Zarskorn, Ed Silva and Meena Haidari for pulling together this great event and for including the RCA in on the fun. If anyone who attended this event wants to become an RCA member you can contact me anytime and I will make it all happen!

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