KANSAS CITY, MO. – In the culinary profession, the ability to create a memorable dish that appeals to today’s diners and consumers using currently popular ingredients and cooking techniques is only part of being a successful chef.
Identifying the next big food trend or ingredient craze is perhaps an even more valuable talent.
For Dax Schaefer, corporate chef with Asenzya, Oak Creek, Wis., developing custom spice blends and functional ingredients is just one function of his role which includes working with commercial food companies and chefs in the foodservice segment.
“Most importantly, I track trends,” said Schaefer, who grew up in restaurants run by his parents and went on to be a formally trained chef at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, and then spent many years working in restaurants for many years before transitioning to a role as a corporate chef.
In the first MEAT+POULTRY Podcast of 2021, Schaefer reflects on making that transition from working as a chef in a restaurant, making one dish at a time to order for a specific diner, to overseeing the mass production of commercial food products, including a stint with a frozen pizza company, feeding millions of customers. He goes on to talk about the transition from pizza pies to joining Asenzya about six years ago. Today, he is valued not only for his culinary expertise by the company’s customers, but also for his ability to look past what are the hot food trends currently and identifying what is going to be all the rage among consumers in the next three, five and seven years.
Chef Schaefer gives examples of how he tracks and analyzes food trends, which he points out, isn’t an overnight phenomenon, but instead is a slow and steady evolution. He also talks about the five stages of new product development that result in a new product on retail shelves or foodservice outlets’ menus.
Schaefer’s genuine passion for food is undeniable and hearing his stories about his culinary journey and discoveries is fascinating and educational.