The Farmer in the Dell (a.k.a. New Jersey)
November 6th, 2009

On a recent and chilly Sunday morning, I joined my fellow farmers’ market volunteers for a field trip. We didn’t head to the museum, or to a matinee. Instead, we literally took to the fields, and visited two of our market farms.

Now, I’ve been to a farm before. I’ve picked my own strawberries; I’ve played with sheep; I’ve even pressed my own apple cider. But somehow, this was different. This time I walked through the fields, and picked the majority of my Sunday dinner from the ground.

It may sound silly to say, but sometimes we get so used to the convenience of buying a pack of spring mix in the store, that we don’t really think of where it comes from. In fact, when our group arrived at the “field of greens” and saw the spread of multi-colored greens before us, almost all of us simultaneously exclaimed, “it actually grows like that?!”

mixed greens

Initially, I was expecting our hosts to bore of explaining how farms work. After all, while it may be a foreign concept to a group of suburban volunteers, this is their everyday life. But, they could not have been more gracious, proud, and genuinely excited to explain every possible detail.

basil field

As “Farmer Flaim” drove us through the fields, we stopped periodically to smell rows of dill, cilantro and basil, or to pick fresh eggplants – traditional, Italian and mini. (Have you ever seen the flower an eggplant grows from? It’s beautiful!) By sight alone, he knew whether fennel, radishes or Swiss chard were ready or not. While, to the rest of us, it all looked the same.

kevin picking radishes

We also visited a flower farm known for sunflowers and gladiolas. Again, the sight of rows of gladiolas in the ground, instead of in a vase, was almost shocking.

field of gladiolas

At the end of the day, our hosts sent us home with three cars filled with fresh produce and flowers, more than our small group could possibly eat. Carrots, cabbage, dill, radicchio and sunflowers – oh my! At home, we shared it with friends, family and neighbors. And let me tell you, hubby and I ate extraordinarily well that week – feasting on salads, potato and leek soup, marinated fennel, and dill new potatoes. Delish!

a full trunk of garden vegetables

Sikking Farms and Flaim Farms of Vineland, New Jersey Produce

Working in the food industry, I get to travel to a number of manufacturing facilities, and I LOVE to learn how my favorite products are made. I truly enjoy seeing the assembly lines and how the containers are filled. (Makes me sound like a bit of a dork, eh?) But once in a while, it’s pretty cool to see where it all begins.

Thank you to Sikking Farms and Flaim Farms of Vineland, New Jersey!!

A Question of Favorites…
October 12th, 2009

I was traveling in the mid-west last week, talking new food flavor trends. After finishing a presentation, one of our newest account managers, Olivia Klose, asked me “of all the foods you’ve tried, what’s your favorite. What would your last meal be?”

My answer was quick – “cereal, ice cream and French fries (with lots of Heinz ketchup).”

Chocolate Ice Cream

I spend my days reading up on the latest flavors, and researching exotic foods. While some become trends, and some fizzle out, the flavors that last are those we’ve known forever.

Worldwide, our favorite ice cream flavors are chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. And in beverages, orange, apple and lemon flavors top the list. Garlic, chicken and cheese are savory flavor favorites.

Comfort foods feel like home. They remind us of simpler times and have broad appeal. Once in a while, exotic flavors break the mold, and become new comforts. Examples include burritos, tacos, pomegranates (the fifth most popularly launched beverage flavor in the U.S. right now), fried rice and sushi.

Don’t confuse my message – we all like to try new foods, and add them to our regular diets. Heck, I have a box of savory Japanese KitKats® sitting next to me right now that’s testing my best will-power not to devour. But, like mom always says, sometimes less is more.

You know, with a little more time to think, I’d probably add to that last meal list my favorite diner’s tuna melt, my grandparents’ pasta sauce, my mom’s chicken cutlets, my dad’s meatloaf, and my hubby’s quesadillas.

Think about what foods you count amongst your own favorites, and I bet many of them will be what some may describe as “basic” or even boring. But don’t feel inferior – you’re actually right on trend. In the current economy, comfort foods and familiar flavors have resurfaced as consumer favorites.

Sneak Peek!! We’re debuting a few nouveau comfort foods at this year’s Innovation Roadshow. Register now to see them in person!

One Month to Go!!
September 21st, 2009

You may have noticed that my blog entries are a little lax this month. While I apologize, I have been no less busy typing away. In fact, I’ve been writing this year’s booklet for our 2009 Innovation Roadshow®!

While I can’t reveal what we’re showing (although faithful readers may have caught a hint here or there), I can say that we’ve tapped into a variety of trends this year – from ethnic flavors, to convenience, to cost saving ideas. We’ve even taken a few classics, and turned them on their heads – gaining new life out of consumer favorites.

With only a month left to go, I’m looking forward to seeing our guests. Looking at our registration list, I see repeat attendees who make a point to attend every year, and some new attendees that I’m excited to meet for the first time. If you haven’t registered yet – what are you waiting for?

If you’re in food product development and innovation — if you are a food scientist or technologist, R&D Director, chef, marketing executive or brand manager — you should be here!

Below, I’ve listed our TOP TEN Reasons to Attend the Innovation Roadshow (with apologies to Mr. Letterman, of course).

  1. The Innovation Roadshow is a FREE event! There is no cost other than your travel and accommodations.
  2. You will experience innovative flavors and applications – from out-of-the-box concepts to ideas that are ready for market.
  3. You will learn about new food product development and flavor technologies, including flavor modifiers, such as salt replacers and sweetness enhancers.
  4. Re-charge your innovative edge – we’ll get you thinking in new ways!
  5. See and taste product concepts in a variety of categories – from confections and baked goods, to distilled spirits and ice cream!
  6. Learn how to adapt these concepts to your own product line. Think a savory frozen snack concept doesn’t have applications for your cookie line? Think again.
  7. Participate in a thought-provoking panel discussion on private label brands and national brands, and the strategies each uses to appeal to consumers.
  8. Interact with David Michael’s global creative team, as well as others in your field.
  9. Learn more about current and emerging food and beverage trends.
  10. Taste exotic flavors from around the world!

David Michael’s 2009 Innovation Roadshow will be held on October 21st in Philadelphia. To learn more or to register, click here.

A Sad Summer for Tomatoes
September 1st, 2009


A Jersey girl, born and bred, you may think that a love for Jersey Tomatoes was in my blood. Not true for many years, as I was never a fan of a tomato that wasn’t sauced or ketchuped. But with maturity came appreciation, and before I knew it, I was trolling the farmer’s market for the perfect plant to take home.

With a practically sunless yard, I set forth for a potted garden of herbs and tomatoes on my deck, each year gaining new insight and passion for those few but beautiful plants. This year, I planted three tomato plants to fill my small, sunny domain. Three plants – three varieties. One – my very first heirloom tomato plant, grown from a seedling gifted to me by our own Chef Julie Snarski – as of this weekend has grown over six feet tall.

But a little bit ago, I noticed some yellow spots forming on the leaves of one of my plants. Having read about late blight, a devasting crop disease, over a month ago, I worried, but quickly dismissed my fears, assuring myself it was simply a lack of sun. But as tomato after tomato from my most fruitful plant began to show greasy, black rings, and the plant itself looked lifeless, I knew it was more. I sacrificed my faithful plant, by fire of course, in order to save my precious heirloom, which has only now started to fruit.

As I wait for my heirlooms to grow, I’ve begun to notice some spots on the leaves that were closest to my blighted plant. Fingers crossed, I will harvest a few precious homegrown heirlooms before the blight takes its toll. And, I’ve moved my third plant as far away as possible (which is sadly, only a few feet).

But I am not alone, as late blight has devastated commercial and backyard farmers all over the east coast. Even domestic goddess Martha Stewart lost 70 percent of her crop that included 50 varieties of tomatoes! Her photos will break your heart…

From Little Russia by the Sea…with love!
August 19th, 2009

Little Russia By The Sea - Brighton Beach

This weekend, I stepped off of the subway, and into another world…literally. I, along with a gaggle of women, visited Brighton Beach, Brooklyn on Saturday night for an unconventional bachelorette party at The National – a Russian supper club where English is scarce, and the vodka is French.

Russian Cold Appetizers

A display of cold appetizers awaits us.

Russian Smoked Sturgeon and Lox

Smoked sturgeon and lox.

When we were seated at our table for 18, a traditional Russian spread was already waiting for us. A bevy of cold appetizers ranging from Russian potato salad, smoked sturgeon, lox, grilled vegetables, chicken liver pate, pickles, eggplant, assorted salads, and beef tongue. Even in this brave group of women, the beef tongue was met with cringes and “no thank you’s,” until our intrepid friend Jennie manned up, and chased it quickly down with pumpernickel and vodka – a scowl on her face.

Russian Beef Tongue

The infamous beef tongue!

Almost full already, the food kept coming, and miraculously found space on the table. More cold appetizers – pancakes with salmon roe, more fish, more salad. Then the hot appetizers – roasted potatoes, chicken-filled pirozhki (like a dumpling, pierogi or knish), grilled white fish, and stuffed roast beef.

Russian Chicken Pirozhki

Getting stuffed – chicken pirozhki amid a table full of food!

And, oh wait, there’s more!!! A few hours into dinner, dancing, and live music, and there were more hot appetizers to be had! Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, the waiters served us a beautiful bread bowl filled with beef stew that was out of this world. All the while, straight vodka was the beverage of choice, and our requests for water were lost a bit in translation.

Russian Bread Bowl filled with Beef Stew

Bread bowl with beef stew.

Happy birthdays were sung to those from one year to 50. Anniversary dances were made with grandkids running circles round. And then, the stage show began. White suits and mesh leotards accented by wigs, hats and feathers. Salsa prevailed in the Carnivale theme that didn’t seem out of place, even though every other bit of chatter was in Russian.

Beef Tongue - Traditional Russian Meal

Beef tongue, later in the evening, remains mostly untouched!

Dinner was served as we watched, a collection of chicken and pork kebabs, stuffed chicken breast…and french fries (a little random, but completely appreciated!). The evening finished with more dancing and singing, as well as cakes, pastries and coffee. For those six hours of solid eating, I felt as if I had been transported to Russia, and all I did was drive up the turnpike. It’s amazing how food can do that – in concert with language, song and vodka, of course!

Balinoff Vodka

We asked why the vodka was French, but the Russian speaking waiters didn’t quite understand our question. The response? “It’s for fun.”

**Thanks to all the ladies that donated their food pictures!!!

“If I Had A Million Dollars…”
August 11th, 2009

Today, I’m gazing longingly at a new addition to my dream vacation list – the CuisinArt Resort & Spa, a Greek inspired resort in Anguilla. Brought to you by the man that founded CuisinArt, the resort boasts organic gardens and a hydroponic farm, partially housed in an 18,000 square-foot greenhouse, which supplies its restaurants and spa with everything from lettuce and tomatoes to chervil and bok choy.It’s foodie mecca meets ultra-lavish Caribbean vacation. Not too shabby.

Of course, it will cost you, which is why it’s on my dream list for now. But, according to e-newsletter Tasting Table, the resort is currently running a summer special that makes things a bit more reasonable. A girl can dream…

A Behind-the-Scenes Peek!
August 7th, 2009

Phew – last week is a bit of a blur – a marathon of Roadshow related activities. Yup, it’s that time of year again. The clock is ticking as we count down the days to the annual Innovation Roadshow®, which is just over two months away (or 68 days).The Roadshow Committee met with our global technical department for final tastings on all of the concepts that will be shown at this year’s Innovation Roadshow. And while I can’t reveal anything that we’ll be showing (so sorry!), I have to say that we’ve once again outdone ourselves.

Not only are all of the products super tasty, but we’ve got some great concepts too! After all of the products were reviewed, we went into photography mode. Committee members Denis Blais (senior account manager) and Danielle Durso (marketing coordinator), as well as Kelly DeFusco (senior food technologist, bakery & cereal) took over our board room, along with photographer, Anthony Sinagoga for an intensive photography session, styling for this year’s 27 booths!

Below are a few shots we snapped over those days, just to give you a few behind-the-scenes peeks!

Innovations Roadshow Photo Shoot Ingredients

All the necessary ingredients for the perfect shot.

Denis’ magic notebook - his sketches for each shot.

Denis - Food Photographer - Innovations Roadshow

Denis and Kelly  - Innovations Roadshow Food Prep

Anthony and Danielle - Food Photo Shoot Strategy

Kelly  - Photo Shoot Prep Techniques - Sheen on Tartlet

Danielle Prepping Food Photo Shoot Checklist - David Michael Flavors

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Hey, that’s not a chip, it’s my folder!
August 4th, 2009

On a quick lunch-time shopping trip to Target today, I found the coolest thing! Terracycle has partnered with Frito-Lay to make back-to-school supplies for little tikes out of old chip bags. Determined to break a certain 12 year-old’s “cool kids don’t recycle” theory, I picked up some Wavy Lay’s folders for the nieces and nephew, and a Rold Gold pencil case for myself (why should they have all the fun).

School Supplies from Old Chip Bags - Pencil Case

My awesome pencil case!

 How To Make A Pencil Case from an Old Chip Bag

Terracycle itself has a cool story, but the products are even cooler. Beyond the composters, rain barrels and natural cleaners, they have a number of fashionista-friendly accessories made from repurposed food packaging – Capri-Sun lunch box, Oreo messenger bag – the list goes on!

Posted in Green, Marketing, Snack, Sustainable | No Comments »

We’re all a Twitter!!!
August 4th, 2009

Find David Michaels Flavors on Twitter @DMFlavors

David Michael is the first flavor company on Twitter –!

Our “tweets” are a great resource for trend info and articles, and even the occasional recipe.

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So this is where all of my free time goes!
July 20th, 2009

I recently read that women spend almost two years of our lives thinking about food! The study, conducted in the UK, found that the average British woman thinks about food for 44 minutes each day, or an entire day each month, which adds up to one year and 11 months over an average lifetime.At first, I gasped at this result. But when I think more about it, two years may actually be a little on the low side for me. Even removing all work-related food thoughts, I spend way more than 44 minutes each day thinking about food. And why not! I’m planning a menu for dinner, contemplating lunch, preparing breakfast, food shopping, fighting off ice cream temptations – it adds up.

So often, we paint food as the villain. Sometimes, we almost forget that it is essential – and even enjoyable! Hmmm…maybe we need one of these studies in the states.

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