The 374th meeting of the Society of Flavor Chemists was held April 17 at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott in Hebron, KY. In addition to the SFC's educational programs, the Chemical Sources Association (CSA) held a technical meeting, with Steve Pringle (Oxford Chemicals) and Barbara Tangel (IFF) presenting each companies latest ingredients, with a focus on chocolate and coffee.
John Urbanski (Cargill) kicked off the SFC education program with a discussion on chocolate. The presentation reviewed the chemical composition of raw cocoa beans and the changes brought about in the fermentation and drying processes at the farm level. A brief summary of the reactions and properties generated in the roasting of cocoa beans to produce the desired chocolate attributes was also discussed. Finally, Urbanski focused on the key processing factors that influence the sensory properties of chocolate products.
Tracy May Adair (Procter & Gamble) followed with a presentation about the flow of coffee, from farm, origin processing, shipping and storing through to roasting and final production. Using pictures to guide attendees through the process, Adair was able to demonstrate the complexity of coffee as a raw material, including growing conditions/origin differences, how raw coffee is evaluated, and the impact of typical processing conditions on the finished coffee.
The evening wound down with a cocktail party and dinner. The after dinner speaker was Grace Yek (University of Cincinnati, Midwest Culinary Institute), who led attendees through an exploration of what molecular gastronomy is. Is it mad science at work in the kitchen with no pragmatic boundaries, the erudite scientific study of deliciousness, or the unstoppable next evolution of the culinary arts? As Yek explained, however molecular gastronomy is defined, it has become increasingly harder to ignore as more and more high-end kitchens incorporate high-tech ingredients and methods to give their foods a new identity. Yek demonstrated many of these methods, such as spherification, to the audience.