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By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor | 03/07/2012
As the benchmark rises for foods that consumers find enticing and pleasing to the senses, food and beverage companies have increasingly brought professional chefs on board for inspiration. They work in partnership with R&D in the product development process to make delectable foods with superior taste, texture and appearance.
Chefs bridge the gap between "gold standard" made-from-scratch meals and the food scientist's more technical approach to formulating. The results are products that meet customer expectations for authentic and delicious taste, yet are within the parameters of a cost-efficient mass-manufacturing process, which makes them safe and affordable.
There's no doubt creating new products or reformulating existing ones requires the contribution of many individuals with a broad range of skills. Product development teams typically include food scientists, nutritionists, marketers, management, purchasing, plant operations people and those with packaging expertise. But often the most fascinating – and increasingly the most influential – work is done in research centers and elaborate kitchens where a research chef leads a project to develop the healthiest, best tasting products possible.
What entices great chefs to work for food & beverage companies? It's a match made in heaven. Banker's hours, no working on holidays, access to state-of-the-art, gleaming test kitchens and, even more important, their creativity impacts millions of consumers every day rather than a few restaurant habitues.
Chefs are always at the forefront, so we asked them how their culinary skills impact new products and what trends they foresee. So join us in tipping our toques to them for sharing their expertise and perspective. Click on a chef below to learn more about him.