The Pecan Chef Summit Series, established by the National Pecan Shellers Association in 2015, has become the industry’s leading chef immersion program into the world of pecans. With funding from a grant from the American Pecan Council in 2018, the Pecan Chefs Summit Series is growing into the premier pecan educational event among the foodservice industry.
Through participation in the Pecan Chefs Summit Series, top commercial and research & development chefs from nationally renowned brands (representing major food brands, foodservice companies, major chain restaurants, universities, hospitals, and more) have gained first-hand experience on how to incorporate pecans and pecan products for recipe development in commercial applications.
The Pecan Chefs Summits have been located at high tech culinary facilities. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) – San Antonio Campus was our culinary destination in 2019. Considered one of the world’s premier culinary colleges, it is dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality. In 2017, Time Inc. Food Studios hosted our event in Birmingham, Alabama in their state-of-the-art facility featuring 28 test kitchens, 13 photo and video studios, and an expansive showcase kitchen for demonstrations. It is the country’s premier creative culinary publishing hub, producing thousands of world-class recipes, images, and related content annually for Time Inc.’s print, cookbook, digital and social platforms.
Interactive educational activities in combination with an informative tour of a pecan orchard, in conjunction with an experiential tour of a pecan shelling facility, enlightens attendees on pecan production, distribution, harvesting and storage.
The roster of R&D chefs and culinary influencers have included more than 20 major foodservice brands including Aramark, Baskin Robbins, Delta Air Lines, Morrison’s Healthcare, Sysco, and the University of Massachusetts, just to name a few.
Chef Simon Stevenson
University of Massachusetts
We are always looking for innovative ways to create healthier meals for our patients in a hospital setting. Coming to the CIA San Antonio taught us new recipes using pecans. Now I have a ton of ideas to bring back to our corporate chefs to develop healthy patient menus.
This is a really great opportunity for me to share innovative ways to use pecans, like pecan oil, with my fan base of about a million folks who visit my blog SouthernBite.com every month. It’s enriching to explain to my audience how to use them and their health benefits.
This exclusive two-day culinary educational experience showcases the many flavors, food pairings and uses of innovative pecan products such as pieces, meal, flour and oil.
Chefs interact with highly talented culinary professionals in a live cooking demo while participating in a hands-on cooking experience. Chefs learn how to incorporate recipes with pecans as ingredients into salads, soups, appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts.
An in-depth nutritional presentation highlights the many health benefits and applications. It’s also a chance to collaborate with like-minded chefs and culinary leaders.
With the “Farm-to-Table” movement, this event allows attendees to tour a pecan orchard and pecan shelling facility to understand how pecans are grown and what it takes to bring them to market.
Attendees meet pecan industry professionals, from family-owned farms to million square-feet shelling facilities, on a guided tour from harvesting the pecans, to the cleaning and storing process, to distribution and beyond.
At Sunnyland Farms, a tour of the grower/sheller facility featured a live pecan harvest with hosts, the Willson’s, a multi-generation farm family from Albany, Georgia. Participants learned first-hand about pecan production, distribution, harvesting, grading and storage of pecans.
In sharp contrast, 2019 participating chefs toured the John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. plant, just outside of San Antonio, Texas. One of the largest shelling facilities in the world, they are a global leader of quality-driven innovative nut solutions. From sourcing and procurement, through processing and placement, they offer what no other company can provide.
Marie OstroskyCulinary Director
This year’s Pecan Chefs Summit Culinary Director was Marie Ostrosky, senior television producer, food stylist, cookbook author and recipe developer. 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.
With more than 20 years of culinary expertise, Marie’s path led her to the kitchens of the Food Network, where, for 15 years, she was at the forefront of cooking shows as entertainment. She developed original, Emmy-nominated programming such as “Emeril Live!,” “Molto Mario” and “Grillin & Chillin with Bobby Flay” plus segments for Martha Stewart Living, NBC’s “TODAY”, CBS’s “This Morning” and Discovery Channel – just to name a few. Marie is also a recipe developer for brands such as McCormick Spices and Perdue Chicken. Read more.
Marion LaneyDirector of Photography and Still Photographer
Marion Laney has a passion for shooting food: for fourteen seasons with “Good Eats” with Alton Brown on Food Network, “Feasting on Waves” with Alton Brown, the FYI series “Rusty’s RockFeast: Backstage with Zac Brown Band”, and chefs Rick Bayless in Mexico and Mario Batali in Italy on two culinary TV series for PBS and Food Network respectively. He’s also worked on numerous food related commercials like Publix, O’Charley’s, McDonald’s, etc . Marion extends his passion for food as one of a six-member committee for the annual James Beard Foundation Broadcast and Journalism Awards (the Oscars of the culinary industry). Read more.
Dan YorkNPSA Chair
Representing the pecan sheller/grower community is the NPSA Chair, Dan York. Dan is President and owner of York Pecan Company in Foreman, Arkansas. He and his sons, Will and Starnes, are 4th and 5th generation farmers along the Red River in the Foreman area. Visit their website at www.yorkpecans.com or call 877-732-2699 for more information.
Carolyn O’NeilNutritionist, Author, Media Expert
Noted nutrition expert, award winning food writer, author, television personality and registered dietitian nutritionist, Carolyn O’Neil MS RDN, believes “The More You Know, The More You Can Eat!” She’s the author of Southern Living’s best-selling Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits and Bacon and co-author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous! (Atria Books) which won “Best Health and Nutrition Book” at the World Food Media awards. Read more.