Chefs Gain Insights into Pecans at 2017 Pecan Chefs Summit

NPSA Hosts Renowned R&D Chefs

ATLANTA – May 8, 2017 – Commercial chefs’ appreciation for the versatility of pecans continues to grow thanks to the National Pecan Shellers Association’s (NPSA) annual Pecan Chefs Summit.  The most recent Summit, a series committed to immersing research and development chefs into the world of pecans, convened in April in Birmingham, AL. Chefs experienced the flavors, food pairings and uses of innovative pecan products such as pecan pieces, meal, flour and oil in state-of-the-art facilities with the finest industry talent.

This exclusive two-day culinary experience, conceived and organized by Kellen, was held at the Time Inc. Food Studios, the cutting edge, central resource for the creation of world-class recipes and food photography, located in a 40,000 square-foot facility with 28 test kitchens, 12 photo studios, a showcase kitchen, and a video studio. This is where dynamic food content is created across the Time Inc. portfolio of print and digital brands including: Southern Living, Cooking Light,, Real Simple, People, InStyle, Health, Essence, Coastal Living, All You, Sunset and Oxmoor House Books.

The roster of R&D chefs and culinary influencers included Aramark, Baskin Robbins, Cinnabon, Hyatt Hotels, PeachDish,, Time Inc. Food Studios and US Foods. Attendees gained valuable insights into preparing dishes with pecans through recipe development, a hands-on cooking challenge, networking opportunities and a chance to collaborate with like-minded chefs and culinary leaders.

“It was our honor and pleasure to open the Time Inc. Food Studios to our partners at the National Pecan Shellers Association,” articulates Allison Long Lowery, Director, Time Inc. Food Studios. The Pecan Chefs Summit brought world-class chefs into our test kitchens and photo studios with a common goal of creating delicious recipes home cooks can easily recreate for their families. When high-quality, nutritional ingredients like pecans intersect with thoughtful recipes that will actually work for the home cook, you have a winning combination. Congratulations to all the chefs who stunned our judges with great-tasting food and unique applications of pecans.”

“The concept of the Pecan Chefs Summit is to bring together top chefs from nationally renowned brands representing food service companies, hotels, major chain restaurants and even bloggers to experience first-hand the versatile properties of pecans for recipe development and commercial applications,” explains Diane Jackson, Communications Director for Kellen, NPSA’s marketing and management firm.  “We are pleased to leverage our firm’s 50-plus years of expertise and relationships in the food industry to bring together powerful brands such as Aramark, Cinnabon and PeachDish (new home delivery meal kits),” Jackson said.   “The Summit’s innovative approach to creating awareness and product development is sure to stimulate more interest and growth in the pecan market,” she added.

The winning recipe, the Asian Lettuce Wraps, was created by Chef Josh Butler of US Foods who said, “I feel that by attending the pecan chefs summit I was able to learn about the nutritious benefits, multiple varieties and the multitude of pack sizes of pecans. It was also great meeting other chefs in the corporate world, we all shared the very unique experiences of each of our jobs with one another. I will be sharing the amazing benefits and wide diversity of pecans with the US Foods team of chefs and developers.”

Representing the pecan sheller/grower community was NPSA Board member, Alex Willson. Alex is the Chief Operating Officer of Sunnyland Farms and a native of Albany, GA.  Sunnyland Farms, approaching its 68th anniversary in business, is a third generation family-owned business situated in the heart of Pecan Country. The plant is nestled in the middle of 1,700 acres of majestic pecan trees.

This year’s Pecan Chefs Summit Culinary Director was Marie Ostrosky, senior television producer (Food Network, Martha Stewart Living, The NBC Today Show and Discovery Network), food stylist, cookbook author and recipe developer for brands such as Perdue Chicken and McCormick Spices. From pecan pieces, to halves, to meal, to flour, to oil, the chefs created recipes that incorporated pecans into appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts.

Presenting the nutrition story of the pecan was Carolyn O’Neil, M.S., R.D., noted nutrition expert, award winning food writer and author of Southern Living’s bestselling Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits. Carolyn reminds us “Pecans are part of a heart healthy diet with 19 vitamins and minerals but remember, it’s a ‘handful’ not a ‘can full’.”

An assortment of recipes inspired and developed by these talented R&D chefs can be found on the NPSA website at .  The recipes include appetizers, salads, soups, entrees and desserts and more.