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General Mills food scientists get a taste of culinary arts at Hennepin Technical College

Food brings people together. And when those people are instructors from the Hennepin Technical College culinary arts program and food scientists who are product developers at General Mills, it leads to an energizing exchange of knowledge about food.

This blending of food science and culinary arts began in 2011, when General Mills sought an opportunity for its food scientists to gain hands-on cooking experience that would enhance the development process. Now the scientists spend time in the Hennepin Technical College kitchens as they chop, sauté, stir, bake and taste their way through a variety of recipes with HTC instructor Dave Eisenreich, who has taught at HTC since1998.

“Building the scientists’ culinary skills improves the quality of our products,” says Jonathan Griebel, senior scientist at General Mills. He notes that the classes have helped product developers refine their definitions of the tastes they want to produce. “Instead of telling their supplier they want onion flavor, they now might specify sautéed onions,” explains Griebel.

As for class content, Eisenreich worked with Griebel and HTC’s Suzanne Ciebiera, training and development director of Customized Training Services, to develop a program that would fit the needs of the food scientists. Currently, there are four courses: 101 focuses on fundamentals such as knife skills and basic cooking technique; 201 builds on those skills and advances to work on building meals and flavors; 301 explores the culinary fundamentals of Mexican and Italian cuisines; and 401 is devoted to the fundamentals of baking, highlighted by artisan breads, cakes, cookies, and pies. With classes of just 12 to 15 individuals, there’s plenty of time to discuss what the students are learning.

“I love working with chefs,” says Griebel, describing what he enjoys about the classes at HTC. Prior to completing his training in food science and joining the research and development team at General Mills, Griebel was a chef. For him, blending food science with culinary arts makes for a great combination, especially with classes that provide product developers with fresh ideas about meeting consumers’ expectations.

“As people watch cooking shows and travel shows, they’re becoming interested in a wider variety of flavors,” observes Griebel. To meet the challenge, General Mills provides food scientists with continuing education that keeps them inspired.

“Our relationship is particularly rewarding for me because those attending the sessions bring a wealth of knowledge about the food industry,” says Eisenreich. “Aside from that, they are just great people.”

With classes that bring together people from General Mills’ research and development team and HTC’s culinary arts program, one thing is clear: It’s all about good food.

Learn more about the Culinary Arts program
 


Last updated by jlaabs : 2013-03-21 08:41:29