Eric Stein, MS, RD, a chef-instructor at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts, and Jaime Mestan, CSC, a Kendall College culinary alum (ʾ08) and research chef at Ed Miniat, Inc., in South Holland, Illinois, were recently selected to compete as a team in the inaugural Professional Culinology Competition, March 23 in San Antonio, Texas.

Held in conjunction with the Research Chefs Association’s (RCA) Annual Conference and Culinology Expo, the competition, which is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), is designed to demonstrate the discipline of Culinology, a concept pioneered by RCA members working in food-product development that blends culinary arts and food science.

Professional teams consisting of one RCA member and one ACF member will compete for a $5,000 first-place award in a two-part competition that began with a written proposal outlining the development of three tapas, one of which must feature beans, for a casual-dining restaurant chain.

Of all “gold standard” kitchen recipes and their corresponding commercialized production formulations submitted to the RCA by proposed teams nationwide, Stein’s and Mestan’s were selected. (Both chefs are members of Windy City Professional Culinarians, a chapter of the ACF serving greater Chicago; Mestan is also a member of RCA.)

In phase two of the competition, the three teams that qualified will commercialize and ship their frozen products to the competition site in San Antonio. On the day of the competition, each team will create the fresh version of its commercialized concept and be judged in part against how well the plated, commercialized product matches up against the fresh gold standard.

A panel of R&D experts will judge the entries on a number of criteria including originality of concept, nutritional profile, manufacturing feasibility, flavor, aroma, texture, presentation and safety standards. The winning team will be announced at RCA’s annual Awards Luncheon on March 24.

“We could not be more excited that a team representing one of our newest faculty members and a successful alum will compete in this first-ever competition for professional culinarians,” says Renee Zonka, RD, CEC, CHE, MBA, dean of the School of Culinary Arts.

“Culinology is a fast-growing field that provides an additional viable career option for culinary-arts graduates, and Kendall College is proud to promote that evolution within the foodservice community.”

This year’s introduction of a Culinology competition for professionals mirrors the student-team competition that RCA has held annually since 2007. Founded in 1996, the Research Chefs Association represents more than 2,000 members including chefs, food scientists, technologists, writers, nutritionists, academicians, researchers, consultants, sales and marketing professionals, suppliers, co-packers, distributors and students. RCA is the premier source of culinary and technical information for the food industry and is committed to the advancement of Culinology—the blending of the culinary arts and food science. For more information, visit


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