Reimagining Innovation to Revolutionize food: RCA Conference & Culinology Expo

QUINCY, MASSACHUSETTES—Earlier this month, the Research Chef’s Association held its annual RCA Conference & Culinology Expo just outside Boston. The goal of this year’s event was to bring together chefs and food industry professionals to share ideas that can revolutionize food and reimagine innovation.

As the leading professional organization for food research and development, Research Chef’s Association members focus on advancing the discipline of Culinology® — the blending of culinary arts and the science of food.

Finding this balance between the art and science of food and flavor development has long been a driving force behind Edlong’s success.

Representing Edlong at the expo were:

  • Anne Druschitz – Associate Principal Scientist – NA Applications & Corporate Research Chef
  • Susan O’Shaughnessy – Sr. Scientist – EMEA/APAC Applications
  • Julie Drainville – Manager – Global Sensory

Anne Druschitz Corporate Research Chef

Anne Druschitz, Associate Principal Scientist – NA Applications & Corporate Research Chef

Connect with Anne on LinkedIn!

Susan O'Shaughnessy, Edlong's Senior Applications Specialist, EMEA

Susan O’Shaughnessy, Sr. Scientist – EMEA/APAC Applications

Connect with Susan on LinkedIn!

Julie Drainville, Edlong Sensory Manager

Julie Drainville, Manager – Global Sensory

Connect with Julie on LinkedIn!

“RCA’s annual conference is a great opportunity for our organization’s members to learn from expert speakers, network with peers, and discover new ingredients, food products, and industry services,” says Druschitz.

This year’s event covered a wide range of new and emerging technologies in the food industry and focused strongly on the evolution of the plant-based sector. Many products, including

Edlong’s own, featured plant-based elements added to animal-based products, highlighting a shift away from the “all-or-nothing” approach and more towards the flexitarian consumer.

Edlong’s breakout presentation looked to help developers understand how flavors can help overcome the obstacles that come with innovation.


Speaking on the team’s presentation, Druschitz adds, “For our presentation, we aimed to share information to help product developers find quicker, more delicious solutions for their toughest formulation obstacles. This fits really well into the event’s ethos because the Research Chefs Association celebrates the blending of culinary arts and food science to elevate product development in the food industry.”

Outlining the talk, O’Shaughnessy says, “The title of our presentation was Pairing with The Taste of Dairy—How flavor combinations can speed up your quest for deliciousness. It was an educational piece on what flavor actually is and how a better understanding of flavor combinations can aid the product development process.”

She goes on to explain, “The intricate relationship between our senses was explored, showing that a truly satisfying and memorable dining experience is one that engages not only the taste buds but also the senses of touch, sound and smell. It took attendees through some of the science behind flavor, both new and old, along with a demonstration of how Edlong flavors can transform even a simple dairy-free cheese base into an authentic dairy-tasting delight. We also looked at how the eating experience can be elevated by pairing foods with other contrasting flavors.”

A few pairing examples from the presentation included:

  • Strawberries and Cream: Strawberries actually have buttery and creamy notes that pair perfectly with the similar notes in clotted or whipped cream, not to mention adding them to a fresh scone!
  • Chocolate and Spices: The smooth richness of the fat and the bitterness of the cocoa in chocolate provide the perfect background for a spice like cardamon to showcase its enigmatic citrus, eucalyptus, and warm, woody floral qualities. The same goes for its balance and ability to offset the sweet and fruity heat of chilis.
  • Pizza and Pineapple: Regardless of where one stands in this debate, pineapple and many fine cheeses (Comte, Parmesan) share the ‘pineapple’ note of ethyl caproate making them a ‘scientifically’ harmonious pairing. This same note can also be found in some wines.

Drainville rounded out the presentation by breaking down some of the science behind what makes these pairings work. She delved into several perceptual and cognitive theories that examine everything from the concentration and presence of certain flavor compounds to how cultural, regional, and societal influences can impact a pairing’s success.

In addition, Drainville explains how this knowledge can fit into the bigger picture of the food development landscape: “Foods are rarely eaten in isolation, so when research chefs and product developers create foods, they need to be mindful of the context in which the products will be consumed, design foods to pair with other foods and create winning flavor combinations.”

She continues, “Understanding flavor pairing can have positive implications to public health, if we are able to know how to make healthy foods more appealing by pairing the perfect flavors, textures and tastes, this can ultimately benefit all of our diets.”


Through this presentation, our team aimed to help developers understand the vital role that flavors and their different combinations can play in creating better final products.

They stressed the importance of getting this piece of the puzzle right from the beginning of their development process. They discussed how this not only helps form successful collaborations but can also speed up timelines and maximize flavor impact in the final product.

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Find out more about how Edlong can help you find the perfect flavor pairing for your next project.

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About Edlong Flavor Solutions
Edlong has the world’s largest portfolio of authentic dairy and dairy-free flavors that improve classic taste profiles for Cheese, Butter, Sweet Dairy, Cream, and Milk. Working closely with our customers, Edlong can apply the right building blocks to create tastes that uniquely differentiate a brand. At Edlong, we believe the taste of dairy can be innovative, inspiring, a sales booster, and even a game changer. That is why Edlong believes in Everything Dairy Can Be. 

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About RCA
Founded in 1996, RCA is a forward-thinking, vibrant, energized organization whose members benefit by being part of a dynamic community of equitable food professionals who work toward a common goal: the blending of culinary arts and food science.


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