Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Flavor & The Menu
January 13, 2021


BARBARA AKIN is a beverage R&D specialist for suppliers, hotels and restaurants. Her razor-sharp focus for beverage menu analysis and innovative mixology has landed hundreds of recipes on menus across the globe. Barbara develops interactive, brand-specific training and implementation for both U.S.-based and international restaurant corporations and is an expert in bar layouts for operational efficiency. She has over 15 years in event management representing Commer Beverage Consulting, the strategic beverage partner for The Flavor Experience and VIBE conferences.

JASON ALLEY landed his first restaurant job at the age of 10, and continued to hone his craft through various culinary positions in Illinois and Atlanta. Jason moved back to his home state of Virginia, opening Comfort in 2002 in Richmond with partner Chris Chandler. His second restaurant Pasture followed in 2011, with partners Michele Jones and Ry Marchant. In 2018, Jason and Michele switched their business model at Comfort, donating all profits to fight hunger in the greater Richmond area, and in 2019 they founded Alley/Jones Hospitality, a full-service food and beverage consulting firm, working with restaurants, individuals and consulting groups to help them realize their goals. Jason also serves as provisional policy advisor to the mayor of Richmond.

CHRIS AQUILINO started in professional kitchens at age 13 as a dishwasher and worked his way up to the hot line, where he became hooked. While classically trained, he credits much of his culinary knowledge to working alongside some of the most talented Master Chefs and culinary teams in the world. Chris joined Compass Group in 2010 and is now Corporate Executive Chef for Envision Group at Compass Group, where he supports culinary development, innovation and storytelling strategies for the company. He specializes in developing root-to-stem menus, on-trend recipes and plant-forward concepts. As a chef, musician, artist, veggie lover, whole-grain advocate and Food Waste Warrior, he combines his love of culinary creativity, all-natural ingredients and artful presentation to constantly challenge himself and his guests to try something new.

CHARLIE BAGGS is Executive Chef/Founder of Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations in Chicago, leading a team of chefs, food scientists, nutritionists, brand specialists/marketers, food stylists and photographers to develop innovative foodservice solutions. For more than 20 years, he has consulted on product development, with a focus of integrating an innovative, quality approach that ensures every client meets their culinary business goals. He deploys his skills with Culinary in Motion virtual tasting using his BASICS taste and flavor model to drive home craveability. Charlie has a BS in management and an AOS in nutrition from Purdue University and an AOS in culinary from The Culinary Institute of America, where he is also a newly inducted Fellow. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology.

JESSICA BOGRAD is 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.

KATHY CASEY is a celebrated chef, mixologist and pioneer in the bar-chef movement. Early in her career she was lauded as a Top 10 Chef by Food & Wine. Kathy is touted as the original Bar Chef and was named one of the top 10 most influential bar people of the past 25 years. Her Seattle-based Kathy Casey Food Studios – Liquid Kitchen is a global agency specializing in food, beverage and concept development, as well as brand launch opening assistance and training. Her hospitality brands include: Dish D’Lish Food T’Go Go, Rel’Lish Burger Lounge, Lucky Louie Fish Shack and Chicky, her new virtual concept. She is also a Julia Child cookbook award winner and author of 10 cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-nominated Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Sips & Apps and D’Lish Deviled Eggs.

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 of 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., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.

ROBERT DANHI is co-founder & CIO of Flavor360˚ Solutions. A 30-year veteran of the foodservice industry, he has worked as a restaurant chef, a chef-instructor at The Culinary Institute of America and consultant for 10 Fortune-500 companies, He is an award-winning Southeast Asian cookbook author, TV host of “Taste of Vietnam” and “Top Chef Vietnam” judge. Robert has become an industry thought leader in food and beverage innovation by co-founding the Flavor360˚ software platform, a suite of apps and cloud-based FlavorSite used as tools by innovation teams for R&D collaboration that saves time, improves data quality and captures tribal knowledge into one database to facilitate data-driven decisions and improved speed to market.

T.J. DELLE DONNE, CEC, MAT, is Assistant Dean at Johnson & Wales University College of Food Innovation and Technology’s Providence, R.I., campus. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales and a Master’s degree in Education. A certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation, he has been invited to cook all over the world, most notably in Lyon, France, Sao Miguel Island and the famed James Beard House in New York. He also served as Executive Chef of The Flavor Experience for 11 years and is a contributing expert for Flavor & The Menu. Dedicated to his students, T.J. works closely with industry partners to ensure quality experiential education and career opportunities for them.

RON DESANTIS is a Certified Master Chef (CMC) who 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 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. Hiring the first CMC for college and 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 MBA from Empire State College.

JESSICA FOUST, RDN, is VP of Culinary Innovation & Nutrition for The Food Group, where she provides creative culinary and nutrition leadership for the Chicago culinary innovation center. Over the last 15 years, she has provided culinary and nutrition direction for restaurants, hotels, manufacturing, health care and spa settings across the country. Prior to her current position, she served as Culinary Director for Farmer’s Fridge and as Director of Culinary Innovation for McDonald’s USA. Jess holds degrees from The Culinary Institute of America and Johnson & Wales and completed her dietetic internship at California Polytechnic University.

JOHN FRANKE graduated in 1994 from Johnson & Wales University and began his professional career in Dallas with Harvey Hotels, Neiman Marcus and Pappas Restaurants. In 2003, he embarked on multi-year missions and humanitarian work in Burkina Faso, Africa. John then joined Front Burner Restaurants as VP of Culinary Operations, leading the culinary development for multiple brands during his 11-year tenure. His focus was driven toward building relationships with local farmers and ranchers to produce unique but approachable offerings for all-scratch, high-volume kitchens. In 2019, John founded Franke Culinary Consulting, where he provides extensive expertise 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.

CALEB GROSE is owner and Principal Consultant at Altered Concepts Group, a restaurant consulting firm focused on an analytical approach to optimizing restaurants. His career in the restaurant industry began as a busser in college, where his passion and curiosity propelled him forward to positions such as National Director of Food & Beverage, Director of Culinary and Director of Purchasing. Caleb is notorious for his ability to reimagine how restaurants function, cultivating innovative solutions that celebrate the individuality of each concept.

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.

MIKE KOSTYO is the resident Trendologist and Senior Managing Editor at Datassential, the food industry’s leading market research and trends company. Kostyo oversees the company’s seven TrendSpotting magazines and custom client publications and leads trend immersion tours and ideation sessions. He was a recurring guest on Fusion TV’s “The A.V. Club Show”; has been featured on WGN Radio, CBS Radio and Gimlet Media’s “Why We Eat What We Eat” podcast; is regularly featured in newspapers and magazines; speaks at conferences across the country; and was a judge on Food Network’s “Eating America.” Kostyo has a Master’s in Gastronomy from Boston University, plus certificates in the culinary arts, baking arts, wine and artisan cheese production.

JEFF MILLER is Founder and CEO of Cutting Edge Innovation, specializing in foodservice strategy, sales, business development and innovation, focusing on how to be successful in the quick-serve space. He has spent over 20 years in the food and beverage industry, driving sales by creating world-class teams and products, most recently as the VP & Executive Chef of Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. In this capacity, Jeff led a team of 22 chefs, food scientists, bakers and coffee experts as he led global innovation and product development for all Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins product categories.

MARK MOELLER is a national restaurant consultant with nearly four decades of industry experience. His company, The Recipe of Success, has the “secret ingredient” to creating successful restaurants, bars, bakeries and more. Embracing a hands-on philosophy and an entrepreneurial spirit, Mark and his team specialize in bringing structure and innovation to new and growing independent concepts, from design to menu innovation, operations and adapting to COVID-19 protocols.

ADAM MOORE is Chef and President of Flashpoint Innovation, a food and beverage innovation network located in Chicago. Over the course of his food-focused career, Adam has served in a variety of roles, from owning a restaurant to innovating new products with Fortune-500 companies around the globe. At Flashpoint, Adam marries that experience with a trusted network of chefs, scientists and strategists to provide culinary support, product development, supply chain and foodservice strategy services to quickly turn ideas into reality.

LIZ MOSKOW is a B2B and B2C brand strategy and business development consultant. She provides strategic thought leadership to companies seeking breakthrough innovation and brand development. Liz is a leading Food Futurist, tracking, uncovering and predicting the future of food. Liz understands and translates emerging trends that impact food and beverage businesses.

KARA NIELSEN leads WGSN’s team of strategists in creating insightful reports and forecasts on global food and drink trends. London-based WGSN specializes in consumer and design trends, helping brands around the world create the right products at the right time for tomorrow’s consumer. Kara has years of experience in the strategic innovation sector, researching, writing and speaking about how to translate trends for new product development. She has shared insights with numerous food brands and previously worked at CCD Innovation, Sterling-Rice Group and CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights. Based in San Francisco, Kara has experience as a restaurant pastry chef and holds a Master’s degree in Food Studies.

MICHAEL PARLAPIANO is the Strategy Director for The Culinary Edge, based in San Francisco, where he researches food trends and leads menu innovation and restaurant concept evolution. In the last decade, Michael has had the pleasure of helping organizations of all sizes realize their potential and build lasting models for impactful food and beverage experiences. His clients have included First Watch, Buffalo Wild Wings, Starbucks and Sweetgreen.

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 (Sterling-Rice Group), 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 has 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, Pereyra 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 of several restaurants, he made a transition to the private chef and corporate chef world. Currently, he serves as the Corporate Chef of 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.

NANCY JO SEATON has held many diverse roles in the food industry that allow her to pioneer an innovative and customized approach to product evaluation. Combining organoleptic assessment with Good Lab Practices, she has successfully executed this evaluation system for many years. Nancy and her expert team at Seaton Food Consultants offer practical advice to ensure a consistently delicious product every time.

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, B.Good, 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, Smith works to increase offerings of fresh, innovative and tasty menu options that are delicious and nutritious.

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 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 MBA 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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