A Letter from Our Founder


The Culinary Edge was established in 2002 as the premier innovation agency creating and launching distinctive food and beverage experiences. Our mission is to create food with purpose by bringing brands, products and experiences to life that benefit both businesses and consumers. Everyday, I’m impressed by the amazing food we have helped our clients bring to market.

We’ve always worked toward a sustainable food system, which to us means more than just where ingredients come from. It includes supporting all types of restaurants and businesses, from startups to Starbucks. It also means acknowledging the history and legacies of brands and sustaining a healthy workforce.

None of this could be done without the incredible team behind The Culinary Edge. Fifteen years later, our crew is hungrier than ever. We have an insatiable appetite to learn, create, cook and taste — on any given day, you’ll see our office abuzz with the energy of developing new ideas in our creative space and dishes in our kitchen. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such a talented and motivated group of individuals.

Thank you for stopping by our site. We hope you’ll drop us a line and come by our office when you find yourself in San Francisco. We look forward to hearing how we can help you create food with purpose.

Aaron Noveshen | TCE Founder & President

The Culinary Edge Team


What inspires you?

Aaron Noveshen

FOUNDER & PRESIDENT


The tremendous curiosity, passion, and commitment that our TCE team members bring every day.

Stephen Goldmann

PRINCIPAL


My team.

Shannon Sharkey

CLIENT DEV. DIRECTOR


The modern farmer.

Jenna Webb

PROJECT MANAGER


New and challenging experiences that transform the core of my being. I believe that change is the agent of paramount opportunity and the author of positive growth.

Rachel Kalt

CREATIVE DIRECTOR


Tasting my way through new cities, existential conversations, and a killer vinyasa class.

Michael Parlapiano

CREATIVE DIRECTOR


Cookbooks, music, markets, chefs, and artists of all types.

Louis Maskin

SENIOR STRATEGIST


Levain's Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie, La Croix, my sister and her band MUNA, and brands determined to make a change.

Nicky Kruse

STRATEGIST


Delicious food, passionate people and being surrounded by the raw beauty of nature.

Montina Filice

STRATEGIST


A perfectly soft scrambled egg, a dining experience as seamless as it is delicious, and immersing myself in the food traditions of cities all over the world.

Jeff Newman

CULINARY DIRECTOR


Noodles: pasta, Chinese food, and my dog (whose name is noodle).

Dimitri Tishlias

LEAD R&D CHEF


The process of creating something out of nothing.

Zachary Herlich

R&D CHEF


Gluten.

Daniel Stoller

R&D CHEF


A dewdrop resting on a ripe peach, the street vendor selling tamales, and the smell of food cooked over live fire.

Kevin Villanueva

R&D Chef


Foreign foods, home cooking, stiff drinks, and offal.

Dianne Ma

CULINARY & OPS. COORD.


My friends. Some of them are terribly picky; others adventurous. Eating a plate in someone else's shoes continually expands my perspective on food and food culture.

Annie Culver

MARKETING LEAD


My people, collaborative Spotify playlists, passport stamps, and Starbird Seoul sauce.

Amanda Moyrong

HR & OPERATIONS MANAGER


The Bay Area and its community, stories from entrepreneurs, Scandinavian designs, and strong, black coffee.

Staci Umhey

ACCOUNTING MANAGER


Bravery and originality.

Elmer Mikery

FACILITY MANAGER


My family.

Our Internship Program


The Culinary Edge’s internship program offers creative and curious individuals a six-month opportunity to work side-by-side with our team of strategists and chefs. Our internships are more like apprenticeships; interns immerse themselves in every aspect of our business and take on and manage their own projects. The internship program at TCE is a unique opportunity that we’re really proud of and serve as a great accelerator for full time employment.

Culinary Intern

Q&A

“My biggest takeaway so far has been how to taste, specifically how to taste objectively when food preferences are inherently so subjective. As professional culinary consultants, it’s essential that we remove all of our personal bias and really put ourselves in the shoes of consumers.”

MEET

Zachary Herlich

The culinary internship is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to gain valuable experience in menu development, recipe formulation, facilities management and the day-to-day operations of a dynamic test kitchen. The intern’s time is split between hands-on kitchen work, procurement and culinary-related administrative tasks. Culinary interns also work closely with strategists to support conceptual menu development and contribute to the creation of restaurant operations materials. By the end of the internship, interns are often managing their own client project. This internship is an ideal opportunity for a chef who one day hopes to own and operate his/her own restaurant.

What were you doing before you began your internship at TCE?
Zach: I originally went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC. After that I worked in fine dining in Charleston, and after two years realized I wanted to explore areas of the food industry beyond restaurants. So I enrolled in the Culinary Nutrition & Culinary Science program in at Johnson & Wales University in Denver and moved out West.

How did you find out about The Culinary Edge and what inspired you to apply?
Zach: I needed to complete an internship as part of my culinary nutrition and science graduation requirements. I was able to intern in a research & development setting and so I Googled “test kitchen internship.” The Culinary Edge was one of the first search hits and the description — of an innovation agency that creates and develops menu items for such varied, far-reaching brands — sounded great. So I called.

It just so happened that two of TCE’s chefs were coming to Denver to help a client with consumer research sensory testing. My interview was actually a day at the research facility, helping the chefs to prepare sandwiches for consumers to blindly taste. I guess I did a good job because they offered me the job later that night, and a few weeks later I moved to San Francisco.

Describe a day in the life as a culinary intern at TCE.
Zach: Our client list and project work are ever-changing so no two days are ever the same. In one day, I might’ve run to the grocery store and bought every single bottled salad dressing available. Then I’d prepare staff meal with whatever was available in our walk in and pantry. I also remember a day where I made 15 different versions of banana bread, documenting all of the nuanced changes, as well as completing nutritional and costing analyses for each. There were some days where more of my time was spent out of the kitchen building operational templates for clients, designing restaurant kitchens and line layouts, and writing prep and order guides. Early into my internship I set up the garden in our back patio. Every afternoon I’d spend a little time tending to it.

What is the most surprising thing you learned at TCE?
Zach: My biggest takeaway so far has been how to taste, specifically how to taste objectively when food preferences are inherently so subjective. As professional culinary consultants, it’s essential that we remove all of our personal bias and really put ourselves in the shoes of consumers.

The things that shouldn’t be good or you theoretically shouldn’t like tend to be the most delicious. We developed a riff on a monte cristo sandwich for a fast food client that was coated in French Toast Crunch cereal and then deep fried. It was so delicious.

I also got to work with Impossible Foods in its earliest stages. That’s definitely the most unique ingredient I’ve ever worked with, handled and tasted.

Describe your craziest research request.
Zach: I feel like I’ve tasted every single commercially available salad dressing that’s ever been made. Trader Joe’s Cilantro Salad Dressing is the silent killer. It’s so versatile.

What was your favorite project that you worked on?
Zach: I really loved developing the entire menu for Wild Cypress [link to case study]. Not only do I love sandwiches, but it was amazing to see a concept from its initial ideation all the way through its opening. Plus the clients are great people and the success of the project was in large part due to our collaborative relationship.

It’s also been great continuing our ongoing collaboration with First Watch [insert case study] beyond my internship. Our relationship and work continues to evolve and and improve every development period. I’m really proud of the dishes that I’ve worked on that have launched.

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Strategy Internship

Q&A

“The best part of interning at TCE is that you don’t have to be an impostor. Your number one reason for being here is to learn. There’s no expectation that you have all of the answers.”

MEET

Louis Maskin

The strategy internship is designed to provide individuals with a comprehensive overview of how TCE partners with clients. Strategy interns engage in every step of the process, working closely with strategists and our creative directors on a variety of activities including researching marketplace trends, designing and attending exploration tours, attending client meetings and tastings in our kitchen, and developing content for presentations. If you have strong research and communications skills, a passion for writing and design, and love all things food-related, this may be the internship for you!

How did you find out about The Culinary Edge and what inspired you to apply?
Louis: I was working in business operations for a technology start-up and was pretty miserable. Food has always been my passion and I would leave work early just to go home and cook as a way to relieve stress. Cooking for me has always been an outlet for my creativity — it allows me to be playful and experiment.

I was considering applying to culinary school and exploring other opportunities when I stumbled upon the LinkedIn profile of a friend from high school. At the time, she was interning at The Culinary Edge. The name of the company intrigued me and I was even more blown away when I saw the website and the clients that TCE worked with. I didn’t even know that a company like this existed.

I contacted my friend and told her where I was in my career. She advised me to apply to be an intern at TCE before I going off to culinary school and see if working in the food industry was really something I wanted to do. And so I applied. When I got the offer, I listened to the voice in my head telling me to, “do what makes me happy,” quit my full time tech job, and started at TCE as an intern two weeks later.

Describe a day in the life as a strategy intern at TCE.
Louis: No day is ever the same when you’re an intern at TCE, and that’s part of the fun. There’s always lots of research to do, but it’s not your typical business analytics research. It’s fun research, like reading cookbooks and Bon App or Buzzfeed articles to identify the latest food trends, pouring over the Instagram accounts of the latest foodie influencers, and researching the underground “must go” places in a city for an upcoming food tour.

Part of the day often involved gathering imagery for a client deliverable or marketing piece. I really enjoyed scouring the web for beautiful imagery — I didn’t realize until my time at TCE how critical imagery is to conveying a story and communicating a vision. The images really paint a picture of hope and what a brand can be for a client. I must’ve gathered well over 2000 images while I was an intern.

Participating in internal tastings was such an educational experience. I learned how to taste food, how to articulate the details of a dish beyond whether it tasted good or bad. I also learned how to talk about food — what balance looks like, what value on the plate means for a particular brand, and the psychology of what makes a dish “good” in the eyes of consumers.

For someone who’d never worked in the front or back of house of a restaurant, I really enjoyed the hospitality aspect of the internship. It was amazing to serve during client tastings and be a fly on the wall, listening in on the conversations and observing the dynamics of CEOs, CMOs and COOs of brands I grew up with.

The best part of interning at TCE is that you don’t have to be an impostor. Your number one reason for being here is to learn. There’s no expectation that you have all of the answers. You have six months to hone and flex your skills.

What is the most surprising thing you learned at TCE?
Louis: Learning about all the different ways that food comes to the table. I saw food in quantities that I never knew existed — five gallon buckets of Greek yogurt, anyone? I learned the difference between terms like housemade, speed scratch and commercialized. I finally got to see, in their raw form, ingredients that I’d previously only read about on packaged goods labels — xantham gum, guar gum, citric acid.

What was the most shocking thing you tasted?
Louis: Crickets. That was gross. I tried to be progressive but that was a little much.

The thing I was most impressed with was how many proprietary, custom-made sauces a huge food brand has. I didn’t realize how much equity huge brands need in order to control the food system and manufacturing contracts.

What was your favorite project that you worked on?
Louis: Jack in the Box. It was crazy to work closely with the leadership team of a brand that I grew up with. I was so impressed by how they run their organization and how they approach fast food innovation in such a sophisticated and thoughtful manner. Plus, it’s a great feeling when a product that you’ve worked on launches in the marketplace.

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Marketing Intern

Q&A

“I started as a marketing intern for TCE and when Starbird really took off, I transitioned my focus to Starbird’s marketing needs. Now I oversee all of Starbird’s marketing efforts, which includes brand marketing, digital and social media marketing and field marketing. Now I even manage an intern of my own!”

MEET

Annie Culver

The marketing internship is an exciting opportunity to help shape TCE’s ever-evolving and expanding marketing efforts. It’s an opportunity to work closely with the senior leadership team on brand marketing and messaging, including generating ideas for engaging thought leadership pieces, to support and contribute to our digital marketing channels, to pitch proposals and generate presentations for various industry conferences, and to work closely with editors to secure interviews and other media opportunities.

How did you find out about The Culinary Edge and what inspired you to apply?
Annie: I wanted to work in food and I thought that I needed to go to culinary school in order to make the transition. Amidst researching culinary schools, I also started looking for jobs in the food industry that weren’t in restaurants. I found The Culinary Edge on LinkedIn and was immediately intrigued. After researching the website and the backgrounds of the employees, I became even more interested. The idea of working for a company that was part creative agency, part test kitchen was exactly what I was hoping to find and didn’t even know existed.

What were you doing before you began your internship at TCE?
Annie: After college I moved to New York City to work in advertising. When I left New York I was working at a London-based digital advertising agency called House of Kaizen. Prior to that, I’d had a strategy internship at DIGO, a creative ad agency. But after a year of living in New York, I was ready for a change. I needed something new, personally and professionally, and decided to leave all my family and friends and move out to San Francisco. I started at TCE a little over three weeks after moving to SF.

Describe a day in the life as a marketing intern at TCE.
Annie: The marketing internship role was a fairly new position when I began so there was a lot of collaboration and flexibility in designing the role with Rachel, my manager. When I started, my primary focus was on managing the daily upkeep of The Culinary Edge, and helping the team to craft our evolved brand identity — as an innovation agency that serves food with purpose.

Early into my internship I also began working on the branding and marketing for Starbird. We were opening our first restaurant in Sunnyvale and there was so much opportunity to get involved. Soon I was spending about half my time on developing the branding and marketing for Starbird. That was such a fun process — working on everything from the launch messaging to field marketing efforts.

What is the most surprising thing you learned at TCE?
Annie: The most surprising thing about TCE is the environment and how open everyone is. It’s such an established business and it’s so apparent that the culture has been something that is so well cultivated. Employees may come and go but our culture is so solid. TCE really does feel like a family.

What were your favorite dishes you tasted as an intern?
Annie: It was within the first month of starting. One of our employees had gone diving for abalone over the weekend. That Monday he brought in his catch and we had deep fried abalone with abalone liver aioli for lunch. It was SO delicious.

There was also a day when I walked into the kitchen and there were two huge crates of crawfish that had been flown in from New Orleans. We made crawfish bisque with all of the crawfish shells and it was the best bisque I’d ever had.

How has your role evolved since your internship?
Annie: I started as a marketing intern for TCE and when Starbird really took off, I transitioned my focus to Starbird’s marketing needs. Now I oversee all of Starbird’s marketing efforts, which includes brand marketing, digital and social media marketing and field marketing.

I went from doing B2B marketing for TCE to shifting to B2C marketing for consumers. It’s a total 180 from my past roles so it’s difficult but also really exciting. There’s a lot of troubleshooting involved — trying lots of different approaches to getting Starbird into people’s hands and mouths — and it’s such a fun challenge.

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