Kara Nielsen is an expert in food and beverage trends and the consumer values that drive trend growth and adoption. For over ten years, she has translated trends for strategic brand growth and product development for food manufacturers, foodservice operators and other firms through her work at Innova Market Insights, Sterling-Rice Group, CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights and CCD Innovation. She returned to CCD Innovation in October 2017 to lead the trends and marketing efforts for the strategic food and beverage innovation agency based in Emeryville, California.

While Trendologist at CCD Innovation, she oversaw the publication of over 40 bi-monthly trend reports in conjunction with Packaged Facts, a market research company. She has also contributed food trend content and insights to food industry publications including Prepared Foods, Flavor & the Menu, Food Technology and Culinology. She is a frequent commentator on trends in the national media and also speaks frequently on trends at food industry conferences and trade shows across the country.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nielsen began her career as a culinary professional, working in restaurants as a pastry chef and manager. Kara’s interest in food culture and education led her to manage a number of food, wine and culinary arts programs at Copia: The American Center for Wine Food & the Arts in Napa, Boston University and Sur La Table, Berkeley. Her writings on gastronomy have appeared in Gastronomica and the Sage Encyclopedia of Food Issues.

Kara holds a Master’s degree in Gastronomy from Boston University and a Bachelor’s in French Studies from Northwestern University. She also earned two certificates from the UK-based Wine & Spirits Education Trust.  She is a long-time member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and a past board member of the San Francisco Professional Food Society. She was inducted into the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier in 2016. 


Detailed Resume


Current: CCD Innovation Vice President, Trends & Marketing

Innova Market Insights Sales & Engagement Manager

Independent Trend Consultant

Sterling-Rice Group Culinary Director

CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights Food & Beverage Strategist

CCD Innovation Trendologist

Boston University Gastronomy, Culinary Arts Program Graduate Student/Program Assistant


Boston University Master's in Gastronomy

Northwestern University Bachelor's in French Studies 

Wine & Spirits Education Trust Intermediate, Advanced Certificates

Diablo Valley College Commercial Baking, Pastry Arts


International Association of Culinary Professionals

Les Dames d'Escoffier, San Francisco Chapter

San Francisco Professional Food Society Board member

Women Chefs & Restaurateurs