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Chef-Driven, Collaborative Culinary R&D: The Final Focus for Leadership Program from The Culinary Institute of America and Hormel Foods


St. Helena, Calif.

More than ever before, people care passionately about their food: its origin, ingredients, preparation and serving.

Tomorrow’s leaders in the culinary industry need to be more than gifted chefs. They need to be ready to lead their teams, organizations and companies in advancements in culinary direction, new product development and menu innovation. They also need to be skilled in anticipating changing consumer palates and lifestyles and managing diverse employees. It was for these reasons The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Hormel Foods (NYSE: HRL) developed the Culinary Enrichment and Innovation Program (CEIP).

This week, members of the CEIP Class of 2012 are gathering for their fourth and final session at the CIA Greystone campus in Napa Valley, Calif. Their focus is menu research and development: the collaborative process of culinary arts, food science, consumer behavior and management. Final presentations to a professional panel will integrate the teachings of the entire program, from global flavors to the ethical responsibilities of healthful, flavorful food preparation, to innovation and leadership.

“The chef is becoming the crystallizing force in culinary R&D,” said Dr. Chris Loss, Ph.D., A.O.S. and director of menu research and development at the CIA. Historically, the R&D process was very linear, with a product moving from one expert in isolation to another. Cross-disciplinary, collaborative teams, often with a chef at the center, have proven to be more effective and efficient, resulting in more successful, longer lasting products.

The intensive four-session, 18-month CEIP program brings classes of leadership-focused chefs together for three days every six months on one of the CIA campuses. The chefs work one-on-one with some of the country’s finest culinary teachers and managers, chefs and industry thought leaders, many of whom are instrumental in changing culinary paradigms. There is no comparable culinary management program available in the industry.

“These up-and-coming commercial and non-commercial chefs need to learn how to think in new ways, integrating key knowledge and layering in philosophies of inspired management and innovation,” said David Kamen, PC III, CHE, CIA Consulting, and CEIP program director.

For the elite CEIP chefs – who come from lodging, restaurant, college and university and health care settings – this final session began with presentations from leading University of California Davis researchers on emerging issues for consumers related to culture and food, as well as consumer perceptions of the food industry. The chefs will then move through the stage gate development process, creating menu item protocepts for a new protein product that has yet to be introduced to the marketplace. They will work collaboratively in groups to determine price point, flavor profile, menu applications, service, menu copy and recipe “story” for their customers. Finally, the chefs will work to develop their menu items for presentation.

During the process, the chefs will recall their conversations on innovation with Chef Eli Kaimeh of Per Se, Chef Ben Pollinger of Oceana, Chef Michael Anthony of Grammercy Tavern and Chef Marcus Gleadow-Ware of Aureole. They will implement lessons learned on leadership from their discussion with John Doherty, former executive chef at the Waldorf Astoria, and remember their visits with New York’s Hudson Valley organic farmers on the topics of dedication and purpose.

“The knowledge I’ve gained from this experience, from our work at the CIA, from meeting these renowned chefs and working side-by-side with my classmates has been personally inspiring and has provided me a level of management training it would take me years to match,” said Ida Shen, assistant director and executive chef, University of California Berkeley.

“My work is often outside the scope of the kitchen,” said Christopher Culp, manager of Food and Beverage Concepts and Innovation, InterContinental Hotels Group. “My education was as a chef, but this program expanded my knowledge of how to approach challenging management issues as well as team leadership.”

The CEIP Class of 2012 graduates Thursday, April 19, at Greystone. Dennis Goettsch, vice president of marketing at Hormel Foods and CEIP co-founder, is pleased with the legacy that’s being created. “The program is delivering exactly what we’d hoped,” he said. “In addition to establishing lasting friendships that will serve them well as they progress in their leadership roles, these chefs are better prepared to strengthen their own organizations and build a stronger, more thoughtful culinary industry for the future.” Hormel Foods underwrites the cost for program development and tuition for all participating students.

Graduating CEIP students:

-Kristin Bonnell, Sous chef, Acts Life Communities, Pensacola, Fla.
-Christopher Culp, Manager of food & beverage concepts and innovation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Atlanta, Ga.
-Christopher Candullo, Scientist, R&D chef, Hormel Foods, Austin, Minn.
-Jeff Ledford, Executive chef, residential dining, Chartwells, and Higher Education at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio
-Larry Leibowitz, Regional executive chef, East Coast and Guckenheimer, Boston, Mass.
-Ashley Lux, Sous chef, Ceasar’s Entertainment, Council Bluffs, Iowa
-Brian Ray, Executive chef, Sodexo Healthcare, Boston, Mass.
-Paul Reinfeld, Director of Dining Services, Chartwells Higher Education, Charlotte, N.C.
-George Shannon, Sous chef, Williamsburg Lodge, Williamsburg, Va.
-Ida Shen, Assistant director, executive chef, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Calif.
-Gregory Strickland, Executive chef, Vi at Highlands Ranch, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
-Kayleen Vander Veen, Chef and quality control supervisor, Central College, Pella, Iowa
-Justin Watson, Executive chef, Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock, Vt.
-Gregory Wiener, Executive chef, The Buttes-Marriott Resort, Tempe, Ariz.

Applications for the next CEIP class, which will begin in the spring of 2013, will open in September. Details will be available this summer at

The college has campuses in Hyde Park, N.Y., St. Helena, Calif., San Antonio, Tex. and Singapore. For more information and a complete listing of programs at each site, visit the CIA online at


About Hormel Foods

Hormel Foods Corporation, based in Austin, Minn., is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, many of which are among the best known and trusted in the industry. The company leverages its extensive expertise, innovation and high competencies in pork and turkey processing and marketing to bring branded, value-added products to the global marketplace. The company is a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, Maplecroft Climate Innovation Indexes, Global 1000 Sustainable Performance Leaders and was once again named one of “The 100 Best Corporate Citizens” by Corporate Responsibility Magazine in 2011. The company enjoys a strong reputation among consumers, retail grocers, foodservice and industrial customers for products highly regarded for quality, taste, nutrition, convenience and value. For more information, visit

About The Culinary Institute of America

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is an independent, not-for-profit college offering bachelor’s and associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts, as well as certificate programs in culinary arts, Latin cuisines and wine and beverage studies. As the world’s premier culinary college, the CIA provides thought leadership in the areas of health and wellness, sustainability, and world cuisines and cultures through research and conferences. The CIA has a network of 44,000 alumni that includes industry leaders such as Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, Roy Choi, Cat Cora, Dan Coudreaut, Steve Ells, Johnny Iuzzini, Charlie Palmer and Roy Yamaguchi. In addition to its degree programs, the CIA also offers courses for professionals and enthusiasts, as well as consulting services in support of innovation for the foodservice and hospitality industry.