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

Join ASTA for a first of its kind culinary demonstration and contest! Interested in showcasing your company’s culinary creativity?  Submit your own video to the cooking competition.

The culinary event on May 11 at 4:00 pm ET will begin with an online cooking demonstration with 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’ cooking demonstration will feature the six spices from the ASTA Online May Crop Reports that will be presented earlier this day: black pepper, chilis, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and garlic.

Meanwhile, all ASTA Online participants are invited to submit their own 5-minute videos showcasing their creativity and presentation skills with a unique recipe featuring these six highlighted spices by April 16. Three semi-finalists’ videos will be shown during the cooking event on May 11 with live commentary from Chef Frances and ASTA Past President Simone Cormier. Attendees will have an opportunity to select their favorite video submission during the event via live online polling. The winner will be announced to the ASTA membership and featured on the ASTA website.

All participants that submit a video for the contest will be acknowledged on the ASTA Online event webpages and offered the opportunity to participate in a virtual master class with Frances Wilson.

So let’s spice things up and get cooking with ASTA’s first cooking contest!

About Frances Wilson and Simone Cormier:

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.

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



               silva logo


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

Griffith Foods

Bratney Companies
Certified Laboratories

Foreign Trade Services
Gjedra Ltd.
Imtech Steri AG
Joma Plastics Engineering
Karasu Consulting
Mold Rite Plastics/Weatherchem
Napasol AG