Introducing: Tovala’s New Chief Culinary Officer!
Hey everyone, I’m Chef Alexander Plotkin, and I’m ecstatic to join the Tovala team as its new Chief Culinary Officer! I’ll be in charge of all aspects of food development for the company, and I couldn’t be happier to join the team.
After learning about Tovala and meeting everyone, it was very clear that it was the perfect place to use all of the culinary tools I’ve collected in my toolbox over the years. And now that I’m here, I cannot wait to serve all of you.
To help stoke your appetite for all the delicious food that will soon be coming your way, here’s some background on me.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a culinary career that has taken me to many places, and has allowed me to serve people in many ways: I’ve spent years cooking in fine dining establishments around the world, I’ve worked at the forefront of food innovation, and I’ve learned from the very best in product development.
I entered fine dining immediately after earning my BA in Food Science Studies & Entrepreneurship from Indiana University. Beyond honing my craft around the world, working at restaurants like Noma taught me about the importance of customer service and the quality of your product, whether you’re spending $300 a person or $12 a person. I’m excited to bring that same sensibility to Tovala (and in case you’re curious about the particulars of my time in fine dining, I’ve included a list of the restaurants and chefs I had the privilege of learning from at the very bottom of this writeup).
After working in fine dining, I split my time between two roles — one focused on food innovation and one focused on creating recipes for large-scale distribution.
In the food innovation space, Chef Homaro Cantu chose me to assist him in writing, testing and editing recipes for the Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook. After that, I worked with him as Cantu Designs’ Director of Culinary Innovation until his passing. In our three years as colleagues, I learned a tremendous amount from him. We worked on innovative food technologies focusing on a range of goals, like the reduction of our carbon footprint, creating energy saving kitchen wares, and sourcing organic products for creation of pharmaceuticals, among many others projects.
In the large-scale distribution role, I worked as a Corporate Chef for Kerry Flavor and Ingredients. I worked on many projects there, most of which focused on creating recipes and improving nutritional content for global clients like Starbucks, Applebee’s, and McDonald’s. It was in my time at Kerry that I learned what it takes to create food that can be distributed around the US, as we’re going to do at Tovala.
After moving on from Kerry and Cantu Designs, I launched a food innovation firm of my own — Epic Eats Innovation. At Epic Eats, I worked on unique products to streamline production processes for a range of companies. I was also able to work with amazing companies like SpaceX to develop custom internal food service programs, and a culinary student education program.
At Epic Eats Innovation, I learned a lot about balanced nutrition, when I designed meal plans and prepared meals for patients that required a specific diet due to their ailments and treatments. These ranged from chemotherapy, to diabetes, celiac disease, high/low blood pressure, and Chrohn’s disease. Cooking for patients with these ailments requires the utmost care in nutritional qualities. Every ingredient that is used has a reason to be there, whether it is to make the dish more palatable or to increase certain levels of needed nutrients. This experience has given me a new perspective on cooking, and one that I plan on using heavily for my work at Tovala in making sure every dish properly balances health and great taste.
After a year of working for myself, I was still hungry (no pun intended) to be a part of a team that developed a solution for the masses. That, coupled with the exciting, innovative work that the Tovala team is doing made the switch to Tovala a no-brainer.
I believe in pure, unprocessed proteins. I believe in fresh, nutritionally-dense fruits and vegetables. And I believe in creating food that balance health and deliciousness. I’m excited to combine the skills I’ve gained from my experience to develop healthy, delicious, nutritionally-balanced food to be enjoyed in Tovalas across the country.
I look forward to serving all of you and helping you all live well and eat better!
Thanks for reading!
– Chef Alexander Plotkin
My fine dining experience: I spent a semester studying in San Sebastián, Spain, at Universidad del País Vasco, as well as at the gastronomic society, Cofradía Vasca de Gastronomía, under Chef Luis Mokoroa. I trained around the world under renowned chefs that include Chef René Redzepi (Noma), Chef Juan Mari Arzak (Arzak); Chef Grant Achatz (Alinea); Chef Michael Carlson (Schwa); and the late Chef Homaro Cantu (Moto). I studied Oenology during the 2011 grape harvest while living at Château de Cabans vineyard in Bordeaux, and Château Margaux in Médoc before interning in the test kitchen at Noma in Copenhagen.