Chef Kevan Vetter
Executive Chef and Senior Director of Culinary Development
McCormick & Company
Chef Vetter is also a key member of the McCormick Flavor Forecast team.
Editor’s Note: This special feature focuses on professional chefs from various facets of the foodservice industry. Culinarians answer questions delving into their views of current foodservice developments and how culinary students can obtain positions within different industries. Introduce your students to a plethora of foodservice career options. Click here to view the previous profiles.
In what foodservice area do you work?
I work for McCormick & Company where we manufacture, market and distribute spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other flavorful products to the entire food industry including e-commerce channels, grocery, food manufacturers and foodservice businesses.
Briefly describe your position with McCormick.
My position is Executive Chef and Senior Director of Culinary Development. I manage two culinary teams, one that supports our consumer/retail business and the other that supports our Food Away From Home Business, which develops branded and custom solutions for restaurants and food service customers. My team works cross-functionally with R&D, Marketing, Innovation, Insights, PR and our Creative and Digital teams.
Where do you see the foodservice industry in which you work in five years?
I’ve been in the food business for about 40 years and love that it is an ever-changing and evolving industry. The last two years have shown the resilience of the people that make up this industry and the drive to keep serving great food and providing delicious culinary experiences to the patrons that support them. I see the continued evolution of menus, streamlining them to feature only dishes that bring the most guest satisfaction, and using ingredients in the back of the house that can be used in a wide variety of ways. Labor shortages will challenge operators to create menu solutions that can be executed consistently and easily by a wide variety of staff. I believe we will continue to see innovation and technology play a key role in back-of-house and front-of-house operations, but real people will always be the heart and soul of any foodservice operation.
What steps would you advise culinary graduates to take in securing a position in your industry?
Work hard to learn your craft and to add value to everything you do. Be a constant learner. While there are many non-operations-based opportunities in foodservice today, you must lay a solid foundation of how a commercial kitchen operates. You will learn so much by working a line – teamwork, efficiency, people skills, developing the perseverance on how to push through on a busy night. My first 15 years in this business were a mix of fine-dining, casual dining, catering, college feeding and each of those experiences have helped me in my last 24 years at McCormick.
Please describe one surprising event that made a valuable impact on your career.
For about nine months while I was living in Tennessee, I did route sales for another spice company. That completely pushed me out of my comfort zone of being behind the line at a restaurant. I had to develop the courage to cold call on restaurants by walking in the back door and giving my pitch. That experience taught me that “no” wasn’t a rejection but just an opportunity to take a different approach to making a sale. While I’m not technically a salesperson now, the ability to influence and connect with customers is invaluable.
About Kevan Vetter
Kevan Vetter is Senior Director Culinary, Executive Chef. His love for cooking began at an early age by helping in the kitchen to prepare birthday cakes and fresh bread for family gatherings. Shortly after starting his first restaurant job, Kevan knew that a career in food was his calling. After running his first kitchen at the age of 19, Kevan embarked on a 16-year culinary journey that would take him into the kitchens of numerous fine dining, upscale casual dining restaurants and catering operations in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast as well as St Joseph’s University where he held the position of Executive Chef.
All of these experiences helped to build the foundation for Kevan’s next move in 1998 when he joined McCormick. At McCormick, he has been able to use his love for great food and fresh flavors to help design and develop new products, recipes and menu items for some of the country’s top consumer food and restaurant companies as well as the McCormick consumer family of brands. Since its inception in 2000, Kevan has been a key member of the McCormick Flavor Forecast team – global group that spotlights current trends while constantly pursuing and identifying what’s next in flavor.