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Going global with Nestle Chef Adam Cowan

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Adam Cowan, corporate chef, custom/national accounts,
Nestlé Professional Canada

By Adam Cowan

I’m constantly watching global trends and adapting them to use with products available locally.

Having a strong culinary foundation where I have been exposed to all levels of foodservice operations is key to understanding how food products and concepts will perform in a business partner’s kitchen. Furthermore, my background has also has instilled in me a relentless approach to striving for perfection in everything I set forth to accomplish.

I’ve always loved all of the sciences, especially biology and chemistry. I feel these are at the root of great cookery. Understanding the intimate details of the product (how it lives, what it eats) and how, once processed, it performs under different environmental exposure is what a chef does. From a product developmental standpoint, my background allows me to fast-track projects, as I have a strong understanding of how these forces work.

Right now I’m experimenting with savoury cocktails and savoury desserts. I’m intrigued with the delicate balance of flavours and sensory at work with sweet and salty combined with other flavours.

I believe we are on the cusp of seeing a lot more pickling, curing and brining techniques being implemented: from the emergence of the charcuterie movement, to house-curing meats, to pickling vegetables in-house for artisan hamburger garnishes.

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Salted cashew and ginger parfait with crispy plantain and black pepper pineapple chutney

Innovation is the lifeblood of foodservice. It keeps things exciting and fresh for operators and their patrons, while also keeping the operation teams growing as professionals. It really is the reason people go out to dine – to try something new that tastes great, something that’s not easily executable at home.

The age-old question of how often chefs and operators need to refresh their menus is really dictated by the target audience and the success of the business. For a standard casual dining independent, a biannual menu change would be in order to showcase seasonal ingredients and take advantage of the pricing fluctuations as well. Above and beyond that switch, operators should “cash in” on holiday occasions to showcase their teams’ skillset by offering LTO menus, in turn keeping them learning as well. It also creates a great buzz locally for the restaurant establishment.

I really believe that the educated consumer spawned from the “Food Network” demands operators and chefs stay on top of what is happening globally. The key is to be confident and passionate about your food and to evolve it continuously.