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Celebrity Chef Homaro Cantu Announced as a Panelist

For Immediate Release: May 10, 2013

Contact: Jenn Ellek at (202) 534-1440

Celebrity Chef Homaro Cantu Announced as a Panelist
at the Sweets & Snacks Expo

The FoodNetwork's Iron Chef Master, Entrepreneur and Inventor Chef Cantu has been added as a taste panelist to the 2013 Expo's Most Innovative New Product Awards

The National Confectioners Association is proud to announce that celebrity Chef Homaro Cantu will join the elite panel of expert judges for the Most Innovative New Product Awards at the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo. The Expo, billed as the confectionery and snack industry’s most successful, world class event, takes place May 21-23 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The Expo’s Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase the most innovative ideas, concepts and products in two of the fastest growing categories in the marketplace: candy and snacks.

A panel of experts made up of retail customers, food industry icons and trend experts will analyze more than 210 new products based on packaging, innovation, go-to-market potential and, of course, taste in an effort to select the top five items across eight categories.

“Cantu is an internationally recognized chef, a leader in the field of postmodern cuisine, and a culinary maverick who views food as an artistic experience,” commented NCA President Larry Graham. “His unique culinary perspective will add another dimension for other panelists to consider while vetting the product submissions.”

Chef Cantu graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute and later traveled to Chicago to work at Charlie Trotter’s restaurant where he rose to the position of Sous Chef.

Cantu is chef and owner of moto and iNG restaurants. Cantu opened iNG in 2011 and has created the world's only restaurant offering flavor-changing experiences. iNG has already been the subject of more than 200 articles, including a recent spot on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer where she described the flavor changing experience as "something that will change the world of gastronomy forever."

Panel participants gather the day before the Expo opens for the product judging. On the first day of the Sweets & Snacks Expo nearly 6,000 retail and wholesale trade customers then have the opportunity to vote electronically for their favorite panel-selected items in each category in a special showcase.

“Despite new candy and snack product releases being flat in 2012, our award submissions grew by more than 15 percent from last year,” remarked Tim Quinn, vice president of trade development for Mars Chocolate North America and Expo chairman. “We work in an industry that thrives on innovation and the Expo’s Most Innovative New Product Awards act as a way to drill down to items which have the potential to become bestsellers in an industry that sees thousands of new product releases every year!”

Awards winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 22, by Phil Lempert, food trends editor for NBC’s TODAY Show and panel moderator during the Sweets & Snacks Expo’s keynote session.

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Editor's note: Chef Homaro Cantu's photo