ASTA Online 2021 “Spice Up ASTA” Cooking Demonstration and Contest

ASTA’s first of its kind culinary demonstration and contest!

Chefs Daniel Clark, Elizabeth Landry, Homer Nieto, Andrew Odom, and Sara Goldman with the Elite Spice East Coast (Jessup, MD) facility won the crystal trophy for the Spice Up ASTA contest with their video recipe for Birria Mole Tacos!

Thank you to master chef Frances Wilson, a teacher in the Bay Area at The Civic Kitchen in San Francisco, and Silverado Cooking School in Napa, CA.  Frances prepared a demonstration of  her preparing Buttermilk-Spiced Chicken, Toasted Garlic Couscous, and Chili Oil. The spices in the marinade for the chicken were the Ras-al-Hanout blend.  Her cooking demonstration featured the six spices from the ASTA Online May Crop Reports: black pepper, chilis, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and garlic.

Contestants submitted their own 5-minute videos showcasing their creativity and presentation skills with a unique recipe featuring these six highlighted spices. Three semi-finalists’ videos were shown with live commentary from Chef Frances and ASTA Past President Simone Cormier and Chef Charlie Baggs. Semi-finalists were judged on the following criteria:

  • Creativity, appeal, and feasibility of the recipe idea;
  • Presentation and style of the finished product; and
  • The entertainment value of the recorded video.

Attendees selected their favorite video submission from these semi-finalists during the event via live online polling and the winner was announced to attendees. All participants receive the opportunity to participate in a virtual master class with Frances Wilson, along with an apron commemorating their participation in this event.

Congratulations go out to these semifinalists, who will also receive white porcelain ASTA branded mortar and pestle sets:

Chefs Daniel Clark, Elizabeth Landry, Homer Nieto, Andrew Odom, and Sara Goldman with Elite Spice (East Coast, Jessup MD) – Birria Mole Tacos
Cihan Demirci with Jayanti Herbs and Spice – Sun of Izmir
Chef Mark Dix and Bradley Kuwahara with Pacific Spice Company – El Pollo Pibil

We were thrilled by the diversity, unique, fun, and competitive spirit of these 11 video submissions.  Check them out below. Thank you to all these culinary contestants!

Advanced Spice & Trading, Inc.

Janet Adams and Kim Holdridge with Advanced Spice & Trading, Inc. (Hanks Brokerage, Inc.) –
Apple Cinnamon Pork Chop with Mashed Potatoes and Cinnamon Apples

Access the video here

The recipe

The Hanks Brokerage Team

Jayanti Herbs and Spice

Cihan Demirci with Jayanti Herbs and Spice –
Sun of Izmir

The recipe!

Cihan Görgü Demirci is a New Product Developer in the R & D department at Jayanti Herbs and Spice, Turkey. She is passionate about her career as she experiments, innovates and develops new products, adding versatility to the company’s existing product range and offer exciting seasoning blends to people around the world to spice-up their meals.  Cihan is also a professional athlete and health enthusiast since she was young.  She enjoys creating healthy recipes and posting to her Instagram page @salatamodern whenever she has a break from experimenting and innovating!

Elite Spice Inc. (West)

Chef Ree Kim (clean up assist by Charlie!) with Elite Spice Inc. (West Coast, Sparks NV) –
Grilled Shrimp with Pina Colada Inspired Couscous Salad

Access the video here

The recipe!

Sotheare “Ree” Kem, CCS is the Research and Development Manager for Elite Spice Inc. in Sparks NV. He holds an AS in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University and a BS in Food Science from the University of Maryland in College Park. Prior to Elite Spice, he was a Chef at Ridgewells Catering in Bethesda MD and Wardman Park Marriott in Washington DC. Ree is an active member in the Research Chef association (RCA) where he is certified as a Culinary Scientist. When he’s not engaged in work, he enjoys cycling, hiking and actively searching for new culinary adventures.

Pure Ground Ingredients

Chef Mark Estee with Pure Ground Ingredients –
Shakshuka (Tunisian Eggs “PGI Style”)


The recipe!

Pacific Basin Partnership

Thuy Barnett (and Hannah!) with Pacific Basin Partnership –
Chả Cá Lã Vọng (Hanio Style Fried Fish)


Access the video here

The recipe!

This entry was submitted by Thuy Barnett (and Hannah!).  Thuy’s husband is Mark Mark Barnett with Pacific Basin Partnership. Florence Fabricant of NY Times says this is the one dish you remember from Viet Nam. MSNBC says this is #5 of Ten Dishes to Try Before you Die.  Thuy learned to make it from the Great Granddaughter of the originators.  It is named after a Chinese Sage from the 13th Century BC. Enjoy trying this dish for yourself!



Chef Ryan Kukuruzovic with Wixon –
Sizzling Szechuan Sticky Ribs with Candied Ginger & Green Onion Fried Rice


Chef Ebru Kaynar with Birlik –
Stuffed KokoreÇ


Chef Ebru Kaynar and the recipe!

Harris Spice Company

Chef Ben Smith with Harris Spice Company –
Moroccan Braised Lamb Shank, Jeweled Couscous, Sauté Eggplant

Access the video here

The recipe!

Ben worked as a professional chef for 13 years in hotels and restaurants in London and Russia. In 2012, he went back to school to do a degree in Food Science at the University of Reading in the UK.
On finishing his studies, Ben moved to Anaheim, CA to work for Harris Spice and have been there for almost 5 years now, working in R&D and Quality. He is currently the Corporate Chef and R&D Manager.

Outside of work, Ben loves jumping in the car and exploring California, hiking, sailing, and eating out- chefs love it when someone else does the cooking!

Dish Inspiration: On seeing the spices available to cook with, I immediately thought of Moroccan cuisine as the spices could be used to make a Ras el Hanout spice blend.
Lamb is a popular meat in Morocco, often stewed as part of a tagine, so I decided to braise some lamb shanks as this is one of my favorite cuts. The rich tomato based braising liquid is robust enough to work well with the sweet spices to give an umami packed sauce with a hint of exotic spice.

Couscous is the obvious accompaniment, and I love to make my mixed veggie version as it looks great and tastes good too! I finished the dish with some sauté eggplant (which I may refer to as aubergine in the video several times- European habits die hard!) which goes well with a touch of mace and gives another interesting taste and texture aspect to the finished dish.

Elite Spice (East)

Chefs Daniel Clark, Elizabeth Landry, Homer Nieto, Andrew Odom, and Sara Goldman with Elite Spice (East Coast, Jessup MD) –
Birria Mole Tacos


The Elite team

The recipe!

Pacific Spice Company

Chef Mark Dix and Bradley Kuwahara with Pacific Spice Company –
El Pollo Pibil

Access the video here

The recipe!

Bradley Kuwahara is R&D formulator with Pacific Spice.  Bradley collaborated with Chef Marc Dix in developing of
the recipe. Bradley graduated from Cal State University -San Bernardino with a Bachelor’s degree in
Chemistry. He has been formulating seasonings at Pacific Spice for the last two years. Developing
spice blends allows him to combine his knowledge of chemistry with a creative touch.

Chef Marc Dix is an R&D Chef, classically trained from LA Culinary Institute with over 20 years of
experience various roles in the Restaurant industry.

Olam Spices

Chef Daniel Espinoza with Olam Spices –
Jamaican Jerk Wings

Access the video here

Chef Daniel Espinoza is the Chef for Latin American Cuisine at Olam Spices. His love and extensive experience with Mexican and Latin cuisine drives his unique ability to connect with trends that are current and developing throughout the US. Introducing consumers to tradition and technique is Chef Espinoza’s outside the box thinking. Respecting the foundation, ingredients, and history is part of the process. Traveling and working in many parts of the US is what keeps Espinoza on his toes regarding trends, seasonality, and availability for an ingredient conscious cuisine.

Chef Espinoza and team won the prestige pork competition “cochon 555” crowning him the prince of pork in Chicago. In 2017, Espinoza is nominated as a finalist for Eater “young guns.” In 2016, he participated in “Top Chef Mexico,” during which he tested his Chicano cooking style to high praise by finishing in the top 4 out of 15 competitors. In 2016, Espinoza consulted on Lincoln Park’s Holy Taco! that earned his barbacoa recipe “one of 100 best things we ate” by Timeout Chicago and earned a place among Zagat’s “30 Under 30” in 2015.

About the Chef Judges

Chef Frances Wilson,  The Civic Kitchen, San Francisco and Silverado Cooking School, Napa, CA.

A native of Dublin, Ireland, Frances Wilson graduated with a Bachelors in Education from Trinity College, Dublin. Her professional career started as a high school teacher of Home Economics. She studied to be a chef at the Dublin College of Catering and then moved to California in 1990 where she worked as the Executive Chef at Lalime’s Restaurant in Berkeley until 2000.

Since then, she has continued to combine her love of teaching and cooking. She taught cooking classes at a chateau in the South of France, worked as a private chef, caterer, and consultant for restaurants. For a decade she taught the Professional Culinary Program at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. She currently teaches in the Bay Area at The Civic Kitchen in San Francisco and Silverado Cooking School in Napa.

In the past year, she has moved her classes online, teaching from her home kitchen in Berkeley. She teaches two series of public classes with The Civic Kitchen. The 90 Minutes to Dinner series is designed to help people cook healthful and nourishing meals with a minimum of fuss and the Weekend Workshop series allows students to take a deep dive into a topic that interests them. Frances teaches online cooking classes for corporate clients to help connect their employees during the pandemic. Some of the corporate events have included dinner parties, cookie decorating parties, and pie-making as well as guided cheese tastings.

Frances can teach online classes on a variety of platforms: Zoom, Google Meet and Webex Meet. She has also recorded short cooking videos which are available on her website,

She loves to demystify cooking and give people the tools to make healthful, delicious food.


Chef Simone Cormier, Spice Sourcer, R&D Chef

As a spice sourcer and chef, Simone: sources spice from sustainable partners throughout the world; identifies flavor and food trends; develops all spice-related products (including creating exclusive seasoning blends and recipe development). She oversees inventory and purchasing and sets pricing in her current position. Simone also handles sales of the products. Her current role uses 99% certified organic spices and seasoning blends, which entails a completely different way to handle sourcing, ingredients used in blends, and documentation. Simone has 11 years of experience in reverse-engineering seasoning blends into certified organic formulations. She also conducts food safety and responsible sourcing audits of suppliers internationally.

Prior to her current position, Simone’s spice journey includes a career as an Executive Chef, Pastry Chef, Kitchen Manager, and Sommelier, and she has traveled to 78 countries exploring regional flavors and sourcing food ingredients. She sat on the Board of Directors of the American Spice Trade Association for 6 years, including her time as President of the Board, and is on the Editorial Advisory Board for the Research Chefs Association’s magazine “Culinology.” Simone is a judge for the Specialty Food Association’s Sofi Awards. She also served as a judge and floor chairperson for multiple ACF Culinary Classic competitions in her home state of Louisiana. She has worked with USAID in trade missions to East Africa in efforts to bring food and drink producers there up to U.S. import standards. For 5 years she was a volunteer chef at one of the many dinners around Washington DC for Sips and Suppers, which benefits Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen. Simone was one of 100 chefs chosen to contribute to America the Great Cookbook, which benefits No Kid Hungry, released in 2017.

Simone loves foreign languages and studied Greek, French, German, and Spanish in their countries of origin, living in Europe for four years.

When she’s not sourcing exotic spices, Simone can be found exploring her love of travel, and great food and wine. She also writes educational content about spices and has taught classes about spices, including at Slow Food. She has a rare combination of expertise in food, cooking, food trends, spices, the spice industry, and its history, and spirits. She is adept in traveling globally – including developing nations as a solo voyager, all the while looking stylish and making many new friends along the way. Her penchant for learning languages has definitely been a boon! Check out her short documentary on black pepper on Youtube, The Life of Spice. Stay tuned for her second episode, featuring cardamom in Guatemala.


Chef Charlie Baggs, President, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations

Chef Charlie Baggs is the President of Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations. Obsession with flavor is Chef Charlie’s personal philosophy, and is shared by his team. Back in 1999, the whole idea for CBCI was sparked by Chef Charlie’s life-changing decision to create a different kind of food consulting company– a company that was a pure blend of his fiery passion for creating new flavors with his rigorous training at the Culinary Institute of America, and his wholehearted devotion to the business of hospitality.

Rooted in culinary innovation, our nimble team of chefs brings their passion for food and culinary solutions to your team. They are constantly inspired to create gold-standard recipes that are operationally feasible, delicious, and delightful to your target consumer. We become integral members of your internal development team and bring cutting edge sharp focus on your goals.

Through our culinary collaboration, we will inspire and prepare your internal team to speak the language of food and connect with your customers. By helping educate and train your team, you are empowered with insights, ideas, and information that will help market and sell your products more effectively.



ASTA thanks the following companies for their participation and generous support of ASTA Online 2021



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Harris Spice Company
Jain Farm Fresh Foods, Inc.
Paprimur, S.L.
Sabater Spices

Griffith Foods

Bratney Companies
Certified Laboratories

Foreign Trade Services
Imtech Steri AG
Johanson Transportation Service
Joma Plastics Engineering
Karasu Consulting
Mold Rite Plastics/Weatherchem
Napasol AG