Today we have an amazingly bubbly guest. Jessica Gavin is a Sr. Research Scientist for Nutralite, which is a division of Amway. She’s been there for about 9 years which I find absolutely amazing.
What’s also super cool is that Jessica has her own food blog at jessicagavin.com which has amazing pictures and recipes. Her blog is one of the most professional food blogs I’ve seen as someone who is a food scientist.
More importantly, Jessica has decided to showcase a scholarship for aspiring food scientists and this is the first thing on our show notes at myfoodjobrocks.com/028jessica . We definently encourage any student listening to apply.
Keeping this short, because this interview is jam packed with great information just about how to be a good product developer, communicator, and mother.
Note: Though Jessica and I work for direct sales companies, we cannot sell our own products! However, I hope through our conversation, you can tell they treat us quite well.
- Why Jessica stayed in her company for 9 years
- How to use a culinary mindset in a product development aspect
- Why Nutralite grows their own Botanicals
- Jessica’s blogging skills and why she did it, and what she does (around 42:00 minutes in)
- Why Jessica wants to give you money
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
The Most Important Skills in your job: Learning to build trust
Every failure is an opportunity to learn
Stages (pronounced: Stauge)- volunteering at a restaurant
What’s your dream job: Culin-neer? Own company
What do you look for in a job?: Your company values you
Most exciting food technologies: Clean Label, Gluten-free, GMO-free what you don’t put in
Supply Side West
What’s the biggest problem the food industry has to face?: Pseudoscience and communication
What’s your beat?
Who inspired you to get into food?: Jessica’s Grandfathers (crazy story)
Favorite thing you like to cook: Home made dumplings
Butternut squash macaroni and cheese
Favorite Quote: Wayne Gretski: Miss 100% shots you don’t take
Favorite Book: Science of Good Cooking
Favorite Kitchen Utensil: Spiralizer
What would you eat for a month?: Croissants
Advice for the Food Industry: What is your Passion? What energizes you?
Advice for your freshman self: Study abroad or take interational lessons
Take internship opportunities
Slaughterhouse in Texas
Jessica Gavin’s Blog
Consistency is key
We have another great small business this episode. Piccola Cucina is an Italian bakery that focuses on Italian baked goods such as macarons and focus on using almonds in their mix.
In this episode, you’ll learn about the different varieties of Macarons, how important it is to maneuver and adapt in the food industry as a small player, and some amazingly good resources and advice from the CEO herself.
I always appreciate having small businesses on the podcast and we have a few more coming up in the pipeline. I admire their tenacity and thinking in the long term. This interview is no exception.
An entrepreneurial, international trade, sales, and relationship management executive, delivering the highest level of client service with keen attention and acuteness to cultural and political sensitivities with valuable contacts in a number of worldwide regions; expert knowledge and proficiency in English, Spanish, Italian, French and basic German.
Specialties: BA in languages, Specialty Food Manufacturing, Strategic Business Planning, Channel Sales, Web presence, Business Development, Event Management, Public Relations, Relationship Management
Piccola Cucina is the premier manufacturer of gourmet, handcrafted, almond based foods. These artisan products use almonds as the first ingredient and are made with the utmost of care and attention, manufactured in a dedicated gluten free facility. Products include a line of Italian macaroons, 6 flavours in all. Flavours include Amaretti, Chocoretti, Pistachioretti, Limonetti, Coconutt & Walnutti.
Products also include almond based pie & tart shells. The sweet shells are free from gluten, dairy, grains, soy, corn & yeast, low in sodium & vegetarian. And the unsweetened shells are a multipurpose, vegan free from gluten, dairy, soy, corn & yeast & low in sodium. These shells are dense, won't get soggy, can withstand and hold any filling, from sweet to savoury, to quiches & meat pies, to deep dish pizza and anything in between.
- The history and diversification of macaroons (macarons)
- Amazing specialty food industry resources
- The ability to listen to customers and pivot
- How do small businesses compete against the bigger guys?
- Why family is everything
Italian Family Recipes
Tip for making macaroons: Ask my mother
Vegan Pie shells
Listening to customers
Food and Beverage Mannitoba (Board of Directors)
Ciao Specialty Food Show
Fancy Food Show in San Francisco
Specialty food association newsletter
My Food Job Rocks: I’m surrounded by good people, I get to be my own boss, I can build a legacy
Food Technologies: Non-GMO
As a business, what would you like to know more about?: I am learning every day
District Ventures- Armine Dickinson’s Incubators
Who inspired you to get into food?: My family, my mom
Favorite Book: Arlene Dickinsons: All In
Favorite Kitchen Item: A good knife
Favorite Food: Pasta, Spaghetti Carbonata
Advice to Start a Food Company: Be prepared to be in it for the long haul
Don’t cut corners
Stephanie Ronquillo is a Cal Poly alumni, and perhaps she could be described as one of my first influences in getting me involved in college. She was the ideal academic student. With the 4.0 GPA, president of the food science club, she’s smart.
After college, she went straight into industry and works at Newly Weds Foods as a food scientist where her focus is on seasoning blends.
In this interview, we focus a good chunk on strategies to make your college experience meaningful, childhood heroes, and interview tips.
Today’s guest is the Vice President of Business Development for a distributor/ supplier, SPI Group, Russ Nishikawa.
What SPI Group does is brokers deals with lesser known ingredients and markets them to customers. A specialized ingredient producer will make deals with distributors for them to market or sell their product. For example, I would have never known about a pea protein from Belgium if it wasn’t for the SPI Group.
You don’t hear much about these types of businesses in school, but they are all the rage in industry, especially if you deal with highly functional and trendy ingredients.
Anyways, I’ve known Russ Nishikawa for a couple of years in Northern California. He reminds me of my uncle to be honest.
Russ has been involed in the growth of SPI Group for 25 years. He is involved in new ingredient business development with key customers and targeted market segments, working with new ingredient from new and existing suppliers and determining how applicable the product benefits are to each end product and customer, and maintaining a very technical approach to understanding the value of each ingredient to our customer's needs.
SPI Group is a distributor of specialty ingredients to food, nutritional, and nutraceutical manufacturers in the Western United States and Canada.
NCIFT New Professionals
UC Davis Food Science
Learning more about People
Formosa Food Ingredients
New Zealand Milk Products
Most Important Skill in the Industry: Empathy
How to improve empathy: it’s about character, you’re trying to do the best for yourself and others
Why Does Your Food Job Rock: It’s Part of Commerce
Food Trends and Technologies: Clean Label
Spices and Extracts
The Biggest Challenge the Food Industry needs to Face: Trust in the consumer and transparency
We’re on the same side
What’s one thing in the food industry you want to know more about?: How food interacts with each other
Inspiration: My Sister got me to look at food science
Most important ingredient: The people.
Quote: Be The Light –Buddha
Don’t be a downer
Favorite Food: Poco Loco (might actually be El pollo loco)
Advice for the Food Industry: Match your personality to the career you like
For the Future: I’d like to build process lines to Food Banks