Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Flavor & The Menu
January 9, 2020

LINH AVEN is the Executive Chef of B.GOOD, a 78-unit farm-to-table, fast-casual restaurant chain. Prior to joining B.GOOD in 2018, Linh was a Pastry Chef and Director of Operations at Café Madeleine, an artisanal French bakery in Boston. She also spent time in the kitchens of Deuxave and Oak & Rowan—both in Boston. Originally from Southern California, Linh got her B.S. in Biology at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., and her Ph.D. in Cell & Molecular Biology at Biology at Boston University School of Medicine.

CHARLIE BAGGS is Executive Chef/Founder at Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations in Chicago, leading a team of chefs, scientists, nutritionists, brand specialists/marketers, stylists and photographers to develop innovative foodservice solutions. For more than 15 years, he has consulted on product development, new item commercialization, national account representation, technical lab analyses, concept development, portfolio reviews and benchmarking, marketing and consumer insights, and culinary training. He is a recognized speaker, teacher and author, and also sponsors an employer-of-choice intern program.

JESSICA BOGRAD is a Director of Culinary R&D at CSSI Marketing + Culinary, A Marlin Network Agency in Chicago, specializing in insights-based culinary strategy, ideation and menu concept development. She leads a team of chefs who work hand-in-hand with industry leading manufacturers and foodservice operators to help execute on-trend menu development processes. Jessica is a long-time competition BBQ pitmaster and award-winning culinary competition chef.

MICHAEL BUONONATO has been developing iconic food and beverage products for more than 25 years. As Senior VP of Creative Food Solutions, he has led sales teams and been the steward of commercialization and innovation for clients ranging from manufacturers to restaurant chains and grocers. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Michael is committed to continuing his education. He has earned certificates in culinary arts, applied food science and flavor chemistry, ensuring he’s at the top of his game and providing clients with industry-leading concepts and formulations.

GABRIEL CALIENDO has served as executive chef, VP of food & beverage, and co-founder of Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar based in Huntington Beach, Calif., since he helped found the concept in 2003. Gabriel traces his culinary roots to his days spent at his family’s delicatessens where he began developing his culinary talents by weaving buffalo mozzarella from scratch and grinding and stuffing fresh and dry sausage. In 1992, Caliendo joined the Ritz-Carlton Hotel team, and during his 10 years there, assumed various chef positions. As a member of that distinguished team, he traveled to Europe and worked alongside such well-known chefs as Paul Bocuse. With a belief that you don’t fully understand something until you’ve taught it to someone, Gabriel also served as a Culinary Chef Instructor at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif, for five years.

KATHY CASEY is a celebrity chef, mixologist, and pioneer in the bar-chef movement. Early in her career she was named one of Food & Wine’s “Hot New American Chefs.” Kathy is the owner of Kathy Casey Food Studios – Liquid Kitchen, a global agency specializing in food and beverage innovation and concept development. As a brand developer and operator, Kathy also owns Dish D’Lish Food T’Go Go and Rel’Lish Burger Lounge. Her newest fast casual concept is Lucky Louie Fish Shack located at Sea-Tac Airport. As an industry leader and resource, Kathy is a frequent speaker and presenter at industry conferences. Her team can often be found traveling the globe training all things delicious and supporting clients’ new openings.

CHRIS CASSON honed his culinary career in chef positions at noted Colorado venues, including The Flagstaff House, Restaurant Kevin Taylor, Mexico-Modern Mexican and the historic Brown Palace Hotel. Growing up on a farm in Illinois, Chris has always been passionate about agriculture and food. He is now VP of Sales, Produce and Specialty Foods for Shamrock Foods Company, a leading broadline distributor in the Western United States.

DAVID COMMER, President of Commer Beverage Consulting, is an acclaimed beverage and hospitality industry expert and speaker with 40 years of experience. An independent beverage consultant for the past 18 years, David has overseen successful beverage program development in concepts ranging from QSR to fine dining to the packaged goods industry. He brings to his clients a robust operations background as general manager, multi-unit director and owner. David actively serves on top industry boards and councils, and is a trend scholar committed to beverage innovation with a passion for delivering memorable experiences that are executable for his clients.

ROB CORLISS is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009.  Based in Nixa, Mo., Rob has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness.

ROBERT DANHI is a 34-year veteran of the foodservice industry. Robert has operated restaurants, was a chef-instructor at The Culinary Institute of America, award-winning Southeast Asian cookbook author and TV show host, and has become an industry thought leader in R&D throughout the innovation process. He recently launched Flavor360°, a suite of mobile apps and cloud-based FlavorSite used as tools by teams from marketing, R&D chefs, product developers, the sales force and food scientists to curate, document, archive and share the 360-degree flavor experience at every stage of the R&D process.

ROSALYN DARLING is Associate Culinary Director at SRG in Boulder, Colo., specializing in insights-based culinary innovation that spans across away-from-home and retail channels. Plant-based and flexitarian foods as well as beverage mixology have been her current focus in the kitchen, working with both Fortune 500 CPGs and Top 200 foodservice operators to bring this sprouting trend to shelves and menus across the nation.

T.J. DELLE DONNE is Assistant Dean, Culinary Relations and Special Projects at Johnson & Wales University, College of Culinary Arts, in Providence, R.I., from which he graduated in 2004. After a stint at the Hay Harbor Country Club on Fishers Island, N.Y., he returned to the university as Assistant Director of Culinary Events and personal chef to the university president. He earned an M.S. in Foodservice Education and in 2010, was promoted to Director of Culinary Events, then to Associate Instructor and personal chef to the university chancellor. T.J. is a contributor to Flavor & The Menu and has served as Executive Chef for The Flavor Experience event.

RON DESANTIS is Principal Advisor of CulinaryNXT consulting. A Certified Master Chef (CMC), Ron began his food immersion in his family’s grocery store. After cooking in the U.S. Marines, he graduated from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and spent five years cooking in Germany. Ron returned to the United States with a position teaching at his alma mater, the beginning of a 25-year career at the CIA. Ron then joined Yale Hospitality as Director of Culinary Excellence. His duties included the production of over 14,000 meals a day, and leadership for all facets of culinary concept design, development of innovative menus and cuisine, and training of the culinary team. As the first CMC to enter college & university dining, Yale’s progressive approach to student dining is proof of how Ron’s approach to thinking like an independent restaurant in a multi-operational institutional environment has changed the format for delivering students’ meals. In 2010 Ron co-authored Modern Batch Cookery (Wiley, 2011) with CMC Victor Gielisse, DBA. Ron also holds an M.B.A. from Empire State College.

JESSICA FOUST, RDN, VP of Culinary Innovation & Nutrition for Creative Food Solutions, has led culinary innovation for the world’s largest and smallest restaurant companies. Hailing from stalwarts like McDonald’s and Farmer’s Fridge, she has honed her skills as a food innovation, commercialization and nutrition expert. Her natural curiosity for building flavors and crafting thoughtful and health-conscious recipes has made her a trusted team member. While her education is impressive, having received several degrees from The Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales University, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, her process is simple. Cook, eat, innovate, repeat.

JOHN FRANKE graduated in 1994 from Johnson & Wales University. He began his professional career in Dallas with Harvey Hotels, Neiman Marcus and Pappas Restaurants. From 2003 to 2007, he embarked on missions and humanitarian work in Burkina Faso, Africa. John then joined forces with Front Burner Restaurants as the VP of Culinary Operations and during his 11-year tenure, he led the culinary development for multiple brands. John’s focus with the menu development for each brand was driven toward building relationships with local farmers and ranchers to produce unique but approachable offerings in all-scratch high-volume kitchens. In 2019, John founded Franke Culinary Consulting, LLC. With over two decades of experience, John brings extensive knowledge in menu development, team building, vendor relationships and kitchen design to all his clients. John sits on the board of directors for Our Daily Bread, a non-profit homeless outreach in Denton, Texas.

SUZI GERBER is an executive chef, food product developer and author with a background in medical research and a passion for plant-based cuisine. Suzi teaches chefs, food educators and food developers how to incorporate plant ingredients into standard formulations without removing delicious flavors or compromising product texture. Suzi is an invaluable resource for restaurants and CPG food companies looking to expand their plant-based offerings. Her cookbook Plant-Based Gourmet (Apollo Publishers, 2020) will be out in spring of 2020, with more than 150 mouthwatering recipes, and restaurant-quality tips and techniques.

MATT HARDING is a classically trained chef and restaurant professional with experience from fine dining to fast casual. After attending The Culinary Institute of America, he worked at The Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C., Campton Place Hotel in San Francisco and Kimpton Hotel’s first free-standing restaurant, Splendido. After extended culinary travels through Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa, he settled in Columbus, Ohio, as executive chef at Lindey’s, voted best restaurant in Columbus. Matt then joined Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, opening the first Brio Tuscan Grill in 1999. He remained with the corporation until 2015 when he joined Piada Italian Street Food, based in Columbus, Ohio, where he is Senior VP of Culinary and Menu Innovation.

CHRIS KOETKE has worked in culinary arts for almost four decades and recently founded Complete Culinary, LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to the 360° comprehensive view of food and beverage. This allows him to bring together his previous work experiences in international and national culinary education, sustainability, professional kitchens, R&D, writing, video work and television.

ADAM MOORE is the Founder of Flashpoint Innovation, a food and beverage growth network, located in Chicago. Over the course of his food-focused career, Adam has spanned roles, from owning his own restaurant to strategizing with Fortune 500 companies around the globe. At Flashpoint, Adam marries his experience with a national network of chefs, scientists and strategists to provide culinary support, product development and foodservice strategy services for his clients.


LIZ MOSKOW is a culinary and hospitality industry expert and culinary brand and product consultant. She provides strategic thought leadership to food and beverage companies seeking product development, menu innovation, and holistic hospitality programs. Liz is a leading Food Futurist, tracking, uncovering and predicting the future of food and beverage. Liz is Principal at Bread & Circus Consulting.

KARA NIELSEN is a food and beverage trend expert with over a decade of experience translating trends for strategic brand growth and innovative product development. She has created and shared culinary trend content for CCD Innovation, Innova Market Insights, Sterling-Rice Group and CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights. Kara is a frequent speaker on trends at industry trade shows and conferences and is quoted regularly in national and trade media. Her success at placing trends in a larger societal and cultural context comes from her background in culinary arts and restaurant hospitality as well as her graduate work in gastronomy at Boston University.

SHARON OLSON is Founder & Executive Director of Chicago-based Culinary Visions, which works with food companies to inspire big-idea innovation and to deconstruct trends into a relevant context that helps build brands. Services include focused original research with custom-crafted professional and consumer panels, innovation labs and a wide range of culinary marketing services. Culinary Visions® publishes Conference Beat® reports throughout the year that identify trends spotted at leading domestic and international food and beverage trade conferences.

MICHAEL PARLAPIANO was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and grew up with a passion for food. After graduating with a B.A. in Film and Digital Media Studies, Michael went on to work in the interactive entertainment industry for a boutique public relations firm. There he assisted in the creative services department on special projects for companies like Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts and LEGO, all the while nurturing his growing passion for food. In August of 2009, Michael began his own food blog and, six months later, joined The Culinary Edge, where he now serves as Creative Director, helping organizations of all sizes realize their potential and building lasting strategies that create impactful food and beverage experiences.

DINA PAZ has over 20 years in the food and beverage industry, during which she has gained broad experience in helping national foodservice chains innovate, develop, and scale brand-sincere products. After earning her culinary degree from the Colorado Institute of Art, she trained in esteemed, fine-dining restaurants in Denver then transitioned her focus to food R&D. As Culinary Director for SRG, she has been successful in bringing to market numerous CPG products, as well as participating in menu development and innovation for national chains.

TONY PEREYRA developed his expertise in every facet of the bar and beverage industry, delivering innovations in mixology, developing structured bar programs, establishing strategic partnerships and creating positive training and educational experiences. His Los Angeles-based beverage consultancy, The Spirits In Motion, co-founded with business partner Phil Wills, has kept him involved with developing top-shelf beverage logistics since 2011. By attending and speaking at seminars and national conferences as an industry influencer, and applying countless hours of real-time research, Tony stays ahead of the game with industry trends to deliver top-notch bar and beverage solutions.

IAN RAMIREZ has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. After serving as the executive chef at several restaurants, he made a transition to the private chef and corporate chef world. Currently, Ian serves as the Corporate Chef for Creative Dining Services in Zeeland, Mich., as Director of Culinary Innovation and Operations. In addition, he chairs the Culinary Innovation Council, a group that focuses on staying ahead of food trends, annually hosting a three-day hands-on chef training summit called Chef Lab, and develops design-thinking approaches towards menu development. His current passion is his Millennial Innovation Panel where he focuses on culinary trends through the lens of the Millennial consumer.

SHANE SCHAIBLY has been in the industry since the young age of 14. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Shane has been with First Watch Restaurants since 2014 and has been working on revamping the existing regular menu and seasonal feature menu offerings, along with fine-tuning some the brand’s already fantastic fresh and healthy menu items. First Watch is known for its industry-leading, out-of-the-box approach to breakfast, brunch and lunch while still maintaining a health halo around many of its menu items.

JAMIE SIMPSON is Chef Liaison and Executive Chef for the Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) in Milan, Ohio. Jamie is a passionate ambassador for using “every part of the plant, from root to tip,” and since the beginning has maintained no-waste policies in the kitchen as part of an overall mission to build a sustainable business model for today and tomorrow. He has traveled the world seeking insight into food, art, psychology, and how they intersect. Born in Charleston, S.C., he has worked alongside chefs in Peru, Iceland, England, France, Mexico and all over North America. Collaborating with the CVI team in industry-changing endeavors to ultimately provide hospitality in its truest form is the best part of his all-consuming career in the kitchen.

MICHAEL SLAVIN is VP of Culinary & Menu Innovation for Houlihan’s of Houlihan’s, Inc., leading culinary innovation for the 85-location chain headquartered in Leawood, Kansas. Michael is responsible for leading product innovation for the company’s six brands: Houlihan’s, J. Gilbert’s, Bristol Seafood, Devon Seafood + Steak, Bristol Steak + Social and Make Room For Truman. Michael brings over 30 years of culinary experience to his role, starting his professional career in the hotel and casino segment followed by a six-year stint with Houston’s. He has held senior chef positions at Fiorella’s Jack Stack, The Royals’ Kauffman Stadium, BRGR Kitchen + Bar, and Applebee’s World Headquarters. Michael is an industry go-to for product consulting, innovation feedback, conference and event participation, and food and trend insights, and is a member of Flavor & The Menu’s advisory board. His set experience includes “Chef on Set” designations for both video and still shoots, and he has participated in several tapings for “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

PAMELA SMITH, RDN, is a nutritionist, culinary consultant, best-selling author and radio host, and provides strategic menu innovation and insight for clients such as Disney, FoodFirst Global Restaurants’ Brio/Bravo, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and many commodity boards. She is the co-creator of Darden Restaurant’s Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52, and has hosted all 24 years of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. As founding principal of Shaping America’s Plate and P.S. Flavor Spice Blends, and co-chair of The Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Menus R&D Collaborative, Pam works to increase offerings of fresh, innovative and tasty menu options that are delicious and nutritious.

KILEY STONE is Associate Culinary Director, Strategy at SRG. In this role, she harnesses a broad skill set to identify and translate food trends for strategic new product and menu innovation and to create and activate marketing and brand strategies for a range of clients including leading national foodservice companies, CPG brands and commodity boards. Before SRG, Kiley led projects as an independent consultant for several small culinary and nutrition companies and individuals, worked for a national healthy cooking publication, and for a Top Chef Masters winner and restaurateur.

MAEVE WEBSTER, President of Menu Matters, is a lead consultant for foodservice manufacturers, operators and other professionals. She has spearheaded hundreds of major industry studies during her near 20 years as a foodservice specialist. Today, Maeve focuses her consultancy on helping manufacturers, operators, commodity boards and marketing firms understand, prioritize and leverage food and consumer trends. Key areas of focus include consumer behavior, trend analysis, product design/testing, and menu optimization. In addition to running her consultancy, Maeve owned and operated a café in Bennington, Vt., for four years that was awarded best coffee house in Bennington each of the years it was in operation. She has an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago. She is a regular speaker at industry events and a contributor to major media outlets and industry publications, including Flavor & The Menu.

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