The Beef Innovations Team


  Steven J. Wald, Executive Director, Innovation

Steve leads the Culinary Team and also directs the new product development efforts for the Beef Innovations Group. Steve has been with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the beef checkoff program for over 16 years. Prior to joining NCBA, Steve worked for Management Resources of America, Inc., in business development for their foods division; Lotte USA, Inc., as the East Central Region Sales Manager for specialty foods business; and Cub Foods (Illinois Division). Steve received a B.S. degree in Marketing from Illinois State University. He has lived in Colorado since 1999 and is a member of the IACP, IDDBA, AMSA, and PDMA.

Steve’s culinary passions include making barbecue, pizza, and the perfect prime rib, and seeking out great hamburgers nationwide. His other passions include: camping, hunting, fishing, model railroading, the St. Louis Cardinals, and spending time with family. He and his wife Shannon reside in Parker, Colorado with their son Sawyer. 
  Bridget Wasser, M.S., Executive Director, Meat Science and Technology

Bridget began her career at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the beef checkoff program, in 2005. She received a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science with a focus on Meat Science from Texas A&M University. Her responsibilities include developing and leading the checkoff’s beef quality/taste research program, research project management, research dissemination, managing technical activities for the Beef Innovations Group, innovative cut exploration, cutting demonstrations, and product education. She has been featured in consumer media, including the New York Times and Denver Post and has also given numerous beef cutting and innovations presentations around the country.

Bridget is a native of Eagle Lake, Texas and was active in FFA and agriculture growing up. She now resides in Parker, Colorado, with her husband, Clint.
   Laura Hagen, Senior Director, Culinary

Laura is responsible for the Beef Culinary Center and works alongside culinary staff members to implement food production, recipe testing and food photography. Prior to her current role, Laura was a development manager for Share Our Strength, and an associate and cooking instructor for Williams-Sonoma. Laura spent 14+ years in the automotive industry serving as a marketing/event manager for Ford Motor Company and its associated brands in Dearborn, MI and Irvine, CA. She received a B.A. degree in Communications from Michigan State University, a M.A. degree in Corporate & Organizational Communications from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a culinary degree from Cook Street School of Fine Cooking.

Laura is a pop culture junky who loves singing and cooking competitions shows. If Laura wasn’t a chef, she’d be traveling the world. Laura has traveled extensively in past jobs and with her family and friends. Favorite trips include S. Africa, the Galapagos Islands and the South of France.
  Shenoa French, Director, Innovation and Product Solutions

Shenoa assists in the development of new and innovative technologies, helping to make beef more accessible to the consumer. In addition, she assists manufacturers with ideating, innovating and developing new concepts and products in the food industry. Shenoa earned an Art of Cooking Diploma from the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Colorado and is a certified Menu Master, with The Culinary Institute of America. She also holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Agricultural Business with a Minor in Human Nutrition from the University of Wyoming. Shenoa has been on staff with NCBA since August of 2004 and lives in Denver, Co.

One of the main things that Shenoa loves about living in Colorado is that there are four distinct season with different outdoor activities for each.

Marci Levine, Lead Tester, Beef Culinary Center 

As the newest member of the team, Marci is responsible for managing and leading the recipe development and testing process. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Education, she honed both her culinary and baking and pastry arts skills at the Culinary Institute of America. Marci then moved on to run the culinary arts and catering programs at a charter high school for at-risk youth. Looking for a change in scenery, she went on to work for the United States Antarctic Program as an executive chef. Most recently, Marci has worked for Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill as the corporate chef, focusing on recipe and menu development before coming to NCBA in July 2015. 

Marci’s passion for cooking was nurtured by her mother and grandmother at an early age. She continues to delight in sharing the food experience with her family and friends. When she’s not in the kitchen, she can be found spending time outdoors, enjoying cultural events, or assisting in the training of service dogs.


  Chris Tostenson, Beef Culinary Center Manager

As the newest member of the team Chris is responsible for managing the daily needs and operations of the Culinary Center kitchen including food & beverage procurement and inventory control, in-house catering functions, maintaining sanitation standards, equipment maintenance and kitchen safety.  He also supports the director of culinary programs.  Chris majored in Art Education with a photography emphasis at the University of Northern Colorado, and then majored in Culinary Arts at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge.   Chris comes to the Culinary Center with a wide range of culinary expertise ranging from four star fine dining, large catering events, gastro pub and corporate dining.

Chris is a Colorado Native who appreciates hiking, skiing, rock climbing and all things outdoors.  He is also a big fan of all types of music and enjoys playing hand percussion.  Chris especially adores spending time with his family and teaching them about all things food.


Recipe Testing Team


Laura Majors, Bonnie West, Pam Nash, Chris Caldes

Laura Majors

Based in Denver, Colorado, Laura joined the NCBA test kitchen team in 2012. A graduate of Cook Street School of Culinary Arts in Denver and the University of Arizona, Laura is a chef and culinary marketer. Laura led the marketing team at Leprino Foods for over ten years, where she adapted recipes to food trends and developed the marketing strategy for major food companies and pizza chains. In addition, she was also a start-up partner for Hacienda Maize Jammin’ Jalapeno Jelly. Laura loves the culmination of science and art that cooking creates. As a tasty product in itself and a great flavor carrier, Laura finds beef an exciting product to feature on the plate.

Bonnie West

Bonnie started at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff in 2010, when the first testers were hired to work in the Culinary Center in Denver. Having worked on and off since 1982 for the beef industry, her career began as a Consumer Specialist with the Colorado Beef Council. Later, she worked for the American National Cattlewomen as coordinator for the National Beef Cook-Off, Promotion Project and as the Communications and Funding Development Specialist. She is now serving her 21st year in the industry. Bonnie holds a degree in Consumer Sciences and Housing with a specialization in Equipment from Colorado State University. She is also a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).

Bonnie sincerely enjoys the opportunity to work in the culinary center at NCBA and considers it a privilege. She has always enjoyed preparing beef and beef recipes and feels fortunate to have the opportunity to help promote the healthy and delicious source of protein that our industry produces. 

Pam Nash

Pam is responsible for carrying out recipe development and testing, as well as applied cookery testing. Prior to joining the testing team in 2010, Pam was a corporate trainer with a specialty in leadership training. Having two kids requiring special diets, Pam wanted an education that would focus on food production and diet. Pam received her A.S. degree in the Culinary Arts from The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Denver, and immediately after graduation, she joined the beef testing team.

Pam enjoys the diversity in her job; working with new recipes, ingredients and flavors and taking on new challenges. In her down time, you can find Pam competing in local triathlons.

Chris Caldes

Chris joined the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff in the Recipe Testing and Development Department in January, 2011. She obtained her culinary training at Denver's Cook Street School of Culinary Arts and completed Levels I & II Sommelier training through the International Sommelier Guild. After attending supplemental training at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Piedmont, Italy and with Master Chef Renee Berard in Bandol, France, she worked in Denver's Adega kitchen under one of 2003 Food and Wine's top 10 Chefs of the year, Bryan Moscatello. Following that, she returned to Cook Street as an assistant culinary instructor.

Outside of her work with NCBA, she adds to her list of culinary skills: food styling for such clients as the Food Network and Fine Living magazine, private in-home chef services and culinary instruction.

Internal links within this website are funded and maintained by the Beef Checkoff.| All other outgoing links are to websites maintained by third parties. Read more >