The founder of the International Corporate Chefs Association (ICCA), which targets as its membership top research and development chefs at the 200 largest foodservice chains, has founded a group for chefs at smaller companies.

The new organization, called the Global Culinary Innovators Association (GCIA), is focusing on individuals involved with R&D, marketing and purchasing at smaller chains, according to founder Kevin Ryan, president of Marketing à la Carte in Winter Park, Fla.

“This was the result of more than three years in a committee and discussions with ICCA board members,” he said.

Ryan explained that he created the new organization to suit the educational needs of those working at smaller chains, which are different from those at the large chains.

“ICCA can help GCA members be creating the structure for their organizations as they grow, and the GCIA will add a creative touch with their nimbleness and opportunity to adapt to change faster,” he said.

During the launch party of the association, held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Chicago during the NRA show, GCIA treasurer Patrick Quakenbush, culinary director of the Tavistock Restaurant Group, said he expected the organization to expand his knowledge and help him and his company set the trends rather than follow them.

Matt McMillin, director of culinary and beverage operations at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants, who is on the GCIA’s board of directors, noted that this was the first association he’d joined in his 26 years in the restaurant industry, because he saw its usefulness. “This is something that I want to put my time into,” he said.

ICCA immediate past president Jason Henderson, vice president of product innovation at Captain D’s, said the establishment of the GCIA would help keep the ICCA sustainable from a budgeting perspective by sharing resources, such as a single executive director, and that its members were passionate about being nimble and quick to market.

The founding president of the GCIA is Bill King, corporate executive chef of Crave restaurants. The vice president is Doug Czufin, director of culinary for The Egg & I. Tim Griffin, director of culinary innovation at Brick House Tavern & Tap, is secretary.

Also on the board, besides Quakenbush and McMillin, are Mark Lewis, quality assurance representative at Burgerville; Jeff Sinelli, founder of Which Wich Superior Sandwiches; Kimberly Myers, vice president of marketing at zPizza; and Bill Hancox, vice president of purchasing and international development for Boston’s Pizza Restaurants.

The GCIA’s first “culinary combine,” or annual conference, will be held in November in Seattle and will focus on trends as well as educational topics such as menu development systems, food merchandising, training techniques and manufacturing innovation as well as discussions on the latest scientific research and new technology.

Ryan said enthusiasm for the new association is high among potential members and that by sending out a single e-mail blast he got 20 potential members to come to the launch party.

Contact Bret Thorn: bret.thorn@penton.com
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