By: Hannah Dressen
1. How did you discover Culinology®?
Culinology and the RCA to me go hand and hand, and I was first made aware of the community and all it had to offer in 2005 by one of my consulting chefs. When I attended the conference I was amazed at the vast opportunities not only in food science but also culinary and the ability to bridge these two “cultures” if you will and not to mention it was an outstanding time to meet people and have some fun too.
2. What do you look for when you are hiring interns?
I look for a few things; Do they have the basics and fundamentals (building blocks some would say), are they willing to learn and roll their sleeves up, and are they enthusiastic. I feel if you have these qualities it will get you far in life. But I always keep learning no matter how old you are and always be willing to take the lead. It will pay off. You might not see it short term but it will long term.
3. What does your schedule look like this week at Darifair Foods?
Every week for me is different. Nothing is ever the same. I am normally on a plane to a customer to meet with the R&D or a Food Science team to discuss a new or current project such as a drinkable yogurt, vegan dairy cream, or one of our all-natural Daricream replacers. It is always ever changing and we must be ready for anything, but I work with a great team of people here at Darifair and I could not ask for a better group!
4. Can you briefly talk about your involvement as an RCA Board Director?
I have been on the board now for 3 years and I am Co- Chair of the Marketing Committee. I have been a member of RCA since 2006 and have been involved with the marketing committee since I began. We have seen a lot of changes in the RCA since I have been involved and I think we will see some new and exciting new things to come in the next few years!
5. Describe how you get inspired at work?
Well, I love to solve problems, and when customers come to us with either challenges or they want to achieve new goals, well I get inspired and want to create something new! I love to think out of the box…I say crush the box!
6. What is your favorite food marketing tool?
It depends on what you consider a food marketing tool. I would say my taste buds are my favorite food marketing tool! You taste it and either you love it or hate it. You either love or hate the texture or taste right? And you tell people about it! Sounds stupid but simple! You express what you do or don’t like correct? You tell people about what you like and don’t like all the new trends on twitter or Instagram or any other type of social media out there. But first I think it starts with our taste buds and word of mouth!
7. Who do you think is the most influential person in your field?
There are so many greats out there, it is hard to just pick one! But for today’s world I would say Alton Brown as he brings science and culinary together!
8. In your professional opinion, what is the most underrated flavor in the culinary arena?
Caper berry brine.
9. What is your favorite spice blend this year?
Equal amounts of crushed peppercorns, cracked Fennel seeds, toasted coriander seeds, and gray salt to taste.
10. How does your work team at Darifair Foods predict flavor forecasts for the upcoming year?
Well, I would like to say we ask our magic 8 ball and it pops up, but that would be too simple. We study trends. We talk with national chains as well as other ingredient customers we really dig deep to look at trending markets. No one ever has it down completely but we would like to think we have more of a proactive approach to it all than a reactive approach by doing our homework!
11. Was there a project at work that you thought would succeed, but did not?
There are many! That is part of it. They can be “killed” for many different reasons and some in your control and some out of your control. That is part of the business. But we must go forward with passion in all we do – like it will make it to market otherwise why do it!
12. Was there a project at work that you thought would not do as well as it did?
Yes, again this too happens. I have seen products only be launched in regions but do so well that they go national. This is a great thing when it does for everyone involved!
13. What are the benefits of students attending the annual RCA Conference? Networking. Understanding what each company does and has to offer in terms of products and careers. Continual learning and education.
14. What advice do you have for students trying to land their first entry-level job?
Be prepared and do your homework about the company the person and the job. Not only about the company are you meeting with but also about its competition. Ask lots of questions. No question is stupid. Always be on time. Make sure you write a handwritten thank you note at the end – the small things do count and also listen. Be sure to take any type of internship, job or learning experience you can to put on your resume. Continue to learn all you can and net work. The more you can put on the resume and learn the more it will help you.
15. What was the most valuable thing you learned from being a consultant at Kitchen Kalamity?
That it is a very tough world out there and not to let it get you down!