By: Melinda Russell
Featured Culinologist: John Draz, Executive Research Chef at Ed Miniat, LLC
Education: AOS Culinary Arts – Culinary Institute of America
BA Culinary Management – Kendall College
What’s a typical day at your job?
There is no “typical” in my position, which is one of the things I like best. I may spend the day working in the kitchen on commercializing a gold standard fully cooked protein, I may spend time in the plant watching a production run of a product to learn more about manufacturing challenges, I may spend the day meeting with our Innovation and performance teams, I may travel to a chain restaurant headquarters to demonstrate how one of our products would work in their operations. There are a variety of functions I am involved in with ever-changing priorities.
What’s the best part of your job? The worst?
The best part of my job is seeing a product I helped to develop in the market place.
The most challenging part of my job is making sure my efforts are aligned with the continually-changing needs of all stake holders: customers, marketing, sales, manufacturing, etc.
Please summarize how you got to where you are today?
After a career of working in restaurants and hotels and owing my own restaurant, I spend a good deal of time as an educator, helping to develop the culinary program at Kendall College. I was encouraged to move from education to full-time R&D by a couple of peers who had done the same.
What advice do you have for me as I begin my career?
Get a solid foundation in cooking professionally. Develop your culinary skills and seek a range of foodservice experiences while you are at the beginning of your career and can afford to do it.
What are your current career goals and aspirations, and how are they different from when you began your career?
My current career goal is to learn to develop and manage an effective innovation process for new product development. At the beginning of my R&D career, I was focused on learning about my company’s capabilities and our customers’ operations.
How do you measure success in your current role?
By the number of new products our team is able to commercialize and by the number of those products that become successful for our customers.
How has RCA helped you in your career?
Networking is the single most important benefit that I get from the RCA. We are in an industry where every one of us has expertise in our own product specialty. We need to collaborate with peers to deliver solutions for our customers.