My Food Job Rocks!

There is very little awareness of what the people in the food industry actually do. This stems back to the lack of knowledge and awareness of the range of degree courses and programs available that will equip them for a career in food. My FoodJobRocks! by Adam Yee is the first podcast of its kind that allows listeners to hear directly from people who are in the food industry and have a passion for what they do. They share how they became involved in food and describe what it is they do, plus a few more fun questions just to keep things entertaining. Listen to them here, and stay tuned for a new episode every Monday.
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Now displaying: March, 2017
Mar 29, 2017

This was a cool connection. A graduate student from Texas A and M, contacted Katie Lanfranki and Sherrill Cropper. They did a small little interview about the different perspectives between going to graduate school and not going to graduate school. I find this so cool! Not only did people get value from the podcast, but Katie was able to benefit from it as well! I love this! So Katie asked Sherrill to be on the show. Of course, I accepted.

Sherrill holds a PhD in Grain Science in Kansas State. Working in product development, she makes enzyme cocktails that help the baking industry make bread.

I loved talking about Sherrill’s diverse food industry background, such as the internships she did, and we talk a lot about bread. There is also a great amount of career advice such as communicating, critical thinking and networking tips.

If you enjoyed this episode, please, sign up on our email list at, like us on facebook,  rate and review on itunes, and share with your friends. If you show interest in being interviewed, know someone who would be a great interviewer, or would like to join our team of volunteers, make sure to email us at


This episode is sponsored by FoodGrads, an interactive platform for the Food & Beverage Industry, which focuses on closing the gap between students/recent graduates and employers. With a broader mission to attract and retain people to a meaningful career in food. From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to Plant Managers, QA Technicians to Dieticians or R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion--there's something for everyone in Food—and they will help you find it.

Join FoodGrads for support, mentorship and guidance to start your career. You’ll see an amazing new website in Spring 2017. Just go to

About Sherrill

Sherrill currently is the New Product Development Lab Manager for Lesaffre Yeast Corporation and RedStar Yeast where she develops ingredients for use in bakery applications. She received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Food Science from The Ohio State University where her graduate studies focused on emulsifier and stabilizer functionality in ice cream. She worked as a Food Technologist for Roskam Baking Company before returning back to school to study cereal chemistry and baking at Kansas State University where she received a PhD in Grain Science. Sherrill interned at Nestle, Heinz North America, and Cargill during her undergraduate and graduate studies. She was raised on a dairy farm in Southern Ohio and she spends most of her free time traveling.

Key Takeaways

  • How Enzymes are made industrially. And what makes an enzyme “GMO”
  • Sherrill’s amazing knowledge in grains and emulsification
  • Our Cargill internship experience
  • The difference between whole wheat and white bread in terms of chemistry

Question Summary

What do you tell someone in a sentence or less: I develop ingredients used for industrial applications
Dough conditioners and dough improvers
Official job title: New Product Development Lab manager / Bakery Formulation Specialist
Sherrill develops the blends
Sherrill’s career path: Grew up in Dairy Farm, fell into Ohio State Food Science, Internship with Nestle, Internship with Heinz, Roskam Baking Company, Grain Science PhD at Kansas State, Internship at Cargill in shortning
Why do you like Bakery Science?: Niche, Kansas state is the only place that has grain science
Most Important Skill You Need for Your Job: Critical Thinking
How Do you improve critical thinking?: Ask yourself the question first
Why Does Your Food Job Rock: I get to feed the world
Dream Job Title: Director of Global Food Research
Take something out of any experience
What do you look for most in a job?: I need something challenging
What’s a big challenge you’ve had?: Remembering food law
Most “Exciting” Food Trends: Organic, Clean Label, Non-GMO. We have to pander to the market
Trending in the Bread world: Tortilla, whole wheat, on-the-go, donuts
Whole wheat chemistry: uses big words and tries to use clean label ingredients
Biggest Challenge: Educating consumers. Short content gives people problems
Solution: Just talk to consumer. Share the info
Who inspired you to get into food: My mom directed me to food science because I played with spices as a kid. I do the same with enzymes as well. She has true roots in agriculture
Favorite quote: Jackie Robinson: a life is not important except in the impact it has in other’s lives
What’s your favorite type of food: peanut butter sandwiches and cereal
Any advice to go into your industry?: Network and explore everything. Do the internships and meet people
Networking Tips: Go with a buddy, older people will talk to you because eof the generation gap
What conferences is beneficial to you?: IFT Expo, American Society of Baking, IBIE, Supply Side
If you were to tell your freshman self something, what would it be?: It’s going to be ok.

Other Links

Business to Business
Non-GMO enzymes
Clean Label
4H and FFA
Lipids and Emulsification
Cargill’s facility in Plymouth, Minnesota
IFT Documentary

Mar 27, 2017

Today we have Jaime Reeves, R and D Manager for Del Monte Foods. Funny story, I think I might have actually met her as an undergraduate. Jaime brings a ton of knowledge as she has developed products for huge companies and well, she has some interesting stories to tell.

Jaime is a high energy, positive woman, and such a huge vat of knowledge. Her child-like enthusiasm is just so refreshing.  If you are a food scientist, I highly recommend this interview because she gives such great advice on how to flavor your products, and generally have fun in your job. We also dive deep into education, especially on the topics such as Non-GMO and Clean Label.

If you enjoyed this episode, please, sign up on our email list at, like us on facebook,  rate and review on itunes, and share with your friends. If you show interest in being interviewed, know someone who would be a great interviewer, or would like to join our team of volunteers, make sure to email us at


This episode is sponsored by FoodGrads, an interactive platform for the Food & Beverage Industry, which focuses on closing the gap between students/recent graduates and employers. With a broader mission to attract and retain people to a meaningful career in food. From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to Plant Managers, QA Technicians to Dietitians or R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion--there's something for everyone in Food—and they will help you find it.

Join FoodGrads for support, mentorship and guidance to start your career. You’ll see an amazing new website in Spring 2017. Just go to

Question Summary

One Sentence: I’m a food scientist, but I’m not a chef. But I like cooking! It makes food tastes good and doesn‘t kill you.
What do you do now?: Del Monte Foods – R+D Manager for Broth and Tomato – Collage-in
Career Path: Grew up in Kermin California (Ag area) went to Cal Poly, thought she did nutrition and accidentally ended up in Food Science. Masters in Food Chemistry at Georgia. PHD in UC Davis. Employed in Dallas, Texas, moved to California for Del Monte
Notes on Product Developing:
Football inspired flavors such as Nacho Cheese Doritos and Grilled Meat Flavor
Collaborating with Flavor Houses
Collaborate with all players to develop amazing flavors. They taste what flavors in what time and what magic
Consumer Testing. Sometimes you don’t win your favorite flavor.
My Food Job Rocks: I get to meet the farmer and the food and see all of the process.
What makes a good processing tomato?: A really hearty tomato. No seeds or juice. Have to be super tough
Dream Job Title: The Willy Wonka of Food. Director of an R+D Group
What do you look for in a job?: The people. And tasty products
Broth Processing: Concentrated Chicken Carcasses get sent to the Del Monte plant.
Food Trends and Technology: Brussel Sprouts, pre-shaved Brussel Sprouts; Balsamic Vinegar, Blue Cheese and Fig combo
Biggest Challenge the food industry needs to face: Educating consumers about sound food science. Specifically GMO
Who Inspired you to go into food: My mother. Also, I used to create “magic potions”. She taught me how to be creative.
Favorite Book: The old lady that swallowed a fly
Favorite Food: Life Cereal, but super, super, soggy and then put in the freezer
Any advice in the food industry: It’s a fun industry and it’s small, which feels like a family. Yet so much to explore.
Advice from your freshman year: Join IFTSA earlier. You meet people and learn a lot

Other Links

Kraft Foods
Re-man – Put tomato pastes in big totes. Reconstitute to make extra products
Hanford California (has tomatoes)
Food Evolution Movie
Supply Side West
Clean Label
If you give a mouse a cookie


Mar 22, 2017

Today’s episode is with Kimber Lew, R and D Coordinator at La Terra Fina. They make quiches and dips.

Kimber is a graduate from UC Davis and is pretty involved in her chapter at Northern California IFT’ section.

The biggest highlight in this interview is Kimber’s experience with research chefs in her previous company. They taught her not only how to cook, but to taste which I think all product developers should know how to do. It sure has helped Kimber progress in her career.

Other than that, we talk a ton about how to get a product to market, awesome food science titles and most importantly, an important discussion about Ramen Noodles.

If you enjoyed this episode, please, sign up on our email list at, like us on facebook,  rate and review on itunes, and share with your friends. If you show interest in being interviewed, know someone who would be a great interviewer, or would like to join our team of volunteers, make sure to email us at

About Kimber Lew

Kimber Lew is an SF Bay Area native whose path towards the food industry began while watching Alton Brown's Good Eats show on the Food Network. She graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor's of Science in Food Science, and worked in the research lab of Dr. Charlie Bamforth (aka the Pope of Foam) studying the properties of beer. She ultimately found her passion in product development, and worked at both Valley Fine Foods and La Terra Fina, the latter of which she's been at for over two years. She aspires to make food products that are not only tasty and healthy for consumers, but for the planet as well. She's also an active member of the Northern California section of the Institute of Food Technologists -- currently she serves on the section's Scholarship Committee and writes articles for the section's newsletter, The Hornblower. Outside of work, Kimber is an avid yogi and indoor rock climber, and enjoys cooking and baking for her loved ones when not exploring other ways to procrastinate on folding her clean laundry.


This episode is sponsored by FoodGrads, an interactive platform for the Food & Beverage Industry, which focuses on closing the gap between students/recent graduates and employers. With a broader mission to attract and retain people to a meaningful career in food. From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to Plant Managers, QA Technicians to Dietitians or R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion--there's something for everyone in Food—and they will help you find it.

Join FoodGrads for support, mentorship and guidance to start your career. You’ll see an amazing new website in Spring 2017. Just go to

Key Takeaways

  • Marketing woes when it comes to communicating with Product Developers
  • Why Kimber moved away from the brewing industry
  • How working with research chef made her a better food scientist
  • A discussion on eggs in ramen

Question Summary

What do you tell people what you do for a living?: I’m a food scientist. I’m a product developer.
How do you make products?: Sales and Marketing will give an idea, they will make it and they will internally try it and then bid for buyers
Steps to get to where you are today: Food Science at UC Davis (transfer) --> Brewing interest --> New food product class --> Internship at Valley Fine Foods --> Worked with Research Chefs --> Got a call from La Terra Fina
What’s one skill you think is important in your job: You don’t have to measure your success based on what gets commercialized, you have to base it on what
My Food Job Rocks: I have to talk to every department to succeed
Do Product Developers need to be artistic?: There is an artistic element
Your dream job title: Food Science Extraordinaire, Food Master, Product Ninja
Favorite Food Technology: Salt Reduction Techniques (different types of salts being used, and flavor profiles). Convenient hand held breakfast things
Biggest challenge the food industry needs to face: Sustainability and food shortages. For example, Brewing companies. Bug companies and the perception of eating bugs
Favorite Kitchen Item: Kitchen Aid
Favorite Food: Real authentic Ramen. Sous vide technology for eggs
Any advice on getting in the food industry: Get some culinary experience such as books, classes, mentorship. Try to shadow other sectors in the food industry
What would you tell your freshman self?: You can shadow people for free. The food industry is very receptive. Go join a food science based club.

Other Links

See Kimber's Bio

Mar 20, 2017

Today I interview my friend and alumni Jocelyn Ngo to the podcast and we get to talking about dreams and ambitions, and the like.

Jocelyn and I go way back. I knew her as a high energy stranger back at freshman orientation! Throughout the years, she was also very involved in Cal Poly, rising in the ranks of the food science clubs, doing product development competitions, even being on IFTSA’s board.

Jocelyn's a hard worker, and a big part of this episode is about dealing with graduate school and work and your social life. If you choose to go that route, it’s not easy, but it will be rewarding.


If you enjoyed this episode, please, sign up on our email list at, like us on facebook,  rate and review on itunes, and share with your friends. If you show interest in being interviewed, know someone who would be a great interviewer, or would like to join our team of volunteers, make sure to email us at


This episode is sponsored by FoodGrads, an interactive platform for the Food & Beverage Industry, which focuses on closing the gap between students/recent graduates and employers. With a broader mission to attract and retain people to a meaningful career in food. From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to Plant Managers, QA Technicians to Dieticians or R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion--there's something for everyone in Food—and they will help you find it.

Join FoodGrads for support, mentorship and guidance to start your career. You’ll see an amazing new website in Spring 2017. Just go to

Key takeaways

  • How Pilot Trials can be stressful
  • How Jocelyn survives doing Graduate School (6 hours) and Working (10 hours)
  • How external matters can ruin products
  • Big insight on company culture

Question Summary

What do you tell people in a sentence or less?: I’m a food scientist: the chemistry and study of food
What questions are commonly asked when it comes to food science?: GMOs, Organic, What’s this ingredient?
What’s the most interesting day at your job?: Every day is interesting but you have to plan for it.
Describe the Steps It Took To Get To Where You Are Today: Went to Cal Poly --> Food Science Club Activities --> Internship --> Leprino --> Job at R+D --> Chapman Graduate School
Most important skill you need in your job: Perseverance. Pushing through months and months of development.
My food Job Rocks: I get to make a product and see it on the shelves
What would be your dream job?: Starting a non-profit. Or TV host of the show
What do you feel like is the most important to jobs?: Company Culture
Innovative Food Trends and Technology: Packaging and the Environment
Biggest Challenges in the Food Industry we Need to Face: Opposition of uneducated consumers.
Who Inspired you to Get Into Food?: Alton Brown and her family
Favorite Book: The Alchemist
Favorite Kitchen Item: Rubber Spatula
Favorite Food: Mango: Mango Sticky Rice
Any Advice for being in the Food Industry: Networking. Join IFT, working with your suppliers, it’s a small business
What would you tell your freshman self?: Work hard and have fun

Other Links

Developing Solutions for Developing Countries
Leprino Foods: Largest Mozzarella Company in the World
Anthony Bourdain
Alton Brown
Andrew Zimmerman
Chobani Flip Cup
Steam Bags
Encapsulated ingredients
Kerry Ingredients
Southern California IFT

Mar 15, 2017

Today we ahem, dive in the world of sushi

Kaz works at Breakthrough Sushi, where hosts special classes, caterings, and team building events where he teaches people how to make sushi.

Kaz’ innovative sushi concept is awesome and he really takes the time to teach his guests the art of sushi, and then let them do it, and then let them eat it! I actually crashed in one of his classes at Miele, or Rochelle Boucher’s place in San Francisco! All I can say is, Kaz is very tall!

This episode is all about fish! Seriously, Kaz loves his craft and you’ll learn so many cool things such as what Zen Buddhists eat, how to be a sushi chef in japan, why you should always be on time, and the importance of the blue fin tuna

About Kaz

Kaz Matsune is the owner and operator of the Bay Area’s (and possibly North America’s) ONLY team building sushi class experience, Breakthrough Sushi. With two books under his belt and a third in the works, he has become the go to guy in the Bay area for anyone wanting to take sushi classes either privately or as part of a corporate team.

Key Takeaways

  • Kaz’ unique platform for his sushi course
  • How Kaz started his business as a Zen Buddhist service at first
  • Why Bluefin Tuna is so important

Question Summary

How Breakthrough Sushi started:
Zen Priest
SF Zen Monastery
Zen Monastery cooking Shojin Ryori (Zen cooking is vegan cooking)
Did you train to be a sushi chef?: Yes, you don’t need a sushi chef certificate in Japan. You learn on the job
Most important skill you can have in your industry: Be punctual. Show up. Time is the most valuable thing in the cooking industry
Another skill: Be clean. Work clean. Have a clean work environment. Clean environment, and clean mind will give you clean food.
My Food Job Rocks: I get to interact with the customer face to face
What Makes Good Sushi?: How much heart you put into food
What Technologies are really exciting you right now?: Freezing and thawing machine,  Farm Raised Blue-fin Tuna from Kinki University
Biggest Problem the food industry has to face: We’re eating too much fish like Bluefin tuna. And Eel too
One thing in the food industry you like to know more about: The Why of the Sushi. (Food Science of Sushi?)
Who Inspired you to get into food?: the Galloping Gourmet. He did things out of the ordinary
Favorite Quote: The depth of a relationship is measured by how many meals you’ve shared with a person
Favorite Book: Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton. How she opened the restaurant. Very personal
One meal to eat for a month: Steamed rice, miso soup, and three dishes (like pickles, grilled fish, paste)
Advice on being in your industry: Be honest, kind, sincere
What’s next?: Writing a memoir.
You can find me at: Quora

Mar 13, 2017

In this episode, we have Rachel Chetham, the CEO of her own consulting firm, The Foodscape Group. She combines media, policy, and nutritional sciences to make an amazing food communication platform.

This episode is a bit different, one.. because I messed up the audio, Apparently, I had to move my audio equipment halfway through the interview and recording on my end just stopped working! I panicked for about 5 minutes. However, Rachel’s content saved the day. Since Rachel’s answers were so good, I was able to edit in the questions I asked to her

So Rachel’s interview has such amazingly good information. You’ll learn so many things about being a good food communicator. Mainly strategies. For example, what’s the best way to communicate to people about food? Or how can you absorb the right media quickly. She also gives you tips on the best ways to progress through your career.

About Rachel

Dr. Rachel Cheatham holds a doctorate in nutritional biochemistry from Tufts University, where she is an adjunct professor of food marketing and communications. She is Founder & CEO of Foodscape Group, a nutrition strategy consultancy designed to help businesses develop and market healthier foods based on global wellness trends and insights. She has been a commercial television producer, Director at the International Food Information Council, and Senior Vice President at Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm. She is a Professional Member of the Institute of Food Technologists, and member of the American Society of Nutrition and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Key Takeaways (a lot of good ones this time)

  • Rachel has TV experience and has helped her a lot in her job. Her soft skills helped her in her consulting company
  • How Rachel doesn’t have to be the best at nutritional science, but rather be unique
  • Americans want to be uniquely and exotically healthy
  • How marketing and actual nutrition are like ying and yang
  • Why it’s lame to climb up the corporate latter (join a startup!), but you shouldn’t job hop
  • Why Point of View matters when reading science articles.
  • Media is everywhere. From newspapers, social media, and conferences
  • Find a way to line up and skim the sources you find interesting. Read outside of your point of view

Question Summary

Career Map: Marketing and PR, Fitness instructor, doctorate in nutrition science, policy in Food Information, consulting company
My Food Job Rocks: I get to chart my own course
How do you get your first client?: The network that you build up over time. Have some patience around the jobs that may lead to a more ideal job and the connects you make can be unexpected

Other Links

Tufts University
International Food Information Council – Food Policy and Information
Inherent Nutrition versus Boosted Nutrition
Boosted Nutrition- Fortification
Processes that perverse nutrients
Food Scientists now need to make processed food healthy
Pea Protein

Rachel's Media Diet (only some of them)
Food Politics Blog with Mariom Nestle

Center for Science of Public Interest
American Science of Nutrition
Academe of Dietetics
Mind Body Green
Food 52
Fast Company
Business Insider

Recommended Comferences
IBIE (Gluten free workshop)
New Products Conference for prepared foods
Supply Side West
Food Vision USA
Food Matters Live in London

Mar 8, 2017

Today we dive in the life of food sales and marketing expert, Eric Dunn, who is the director of Marketing and Innovation at Nutrifusion, a patent-pending super fruit and vegetable powder.

Sales and Marketing have always interested me. In college, it wasn't really talked about yet, but if you're in product development, it's half the battle! Sales and Marketing is the lifeblood of a company and paired with a great product, it becomes an unstoppable force. I really enjoyed this interview with Eric because this is a type of job that not many food enthusiasts are aware of.

If you are interested in sales and marketing in the food industry, then Eric does a great job explaining the difference to me. He also talks about where to find the best food news and why packaging is so important in this industry.

If you enjoyed this episode, please, sign up on our email list at, like us on facebook,  rate and review on itunes, and share with your friends. If you show interest in being interviewed, know someone who would be a great interviewer, or would like to join our team of volunteers, make sure to email us at

About Eric

Eric Dunn is the Director of Marketing at NutriFusion®. He attended Clemson University (Your 2016 National Champions) for his B.S. in Marketing and M.B.A. in innovation. Eric's day-to-day role is to help connect the marketing and sales teams. He works on website updates, social media management, PR, email campaigns, and more to help NutriFusion® reach their customers. Over his past few positions, he found a passion for the food industry and is focused on helping companies develop healthier products that meet new consumer expectations.

NutriFusion® leading innovation in plant-based ingredients for the food, beverage, supplement and pet industries. NutriFusion® developed the GrandFusion® product line to stabilize and concentrate the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables. GrandFusion® enables companies to add natural vitamins without impacting the flavor or texture profile of their products. For example, with the GrandFusion® 12 fruit and vegetable blend, you can deliver 50% daily value of 12 vitamins with only 225 milligrams of powder.

Question Summary

One sentence or Less: Help innovative food companies sell and market products
Difference between Marketing and Sales: Sales is more account management to ake the customer happy. Marketing promotes an captures the customer. They work hand in hand.
Sales and marketing is a process: linkedin lead generation, be genuine, visit expos, cater your message to the role (business developer or product developer), go for the long run.
Career path: Clemson Marketing undergrad, unpaid sales position by communicating with food marketers, graduated from Clemson MBA program
Most important skill for Sales and Marketing: Communication and who you communicate with
Food Trends or Technologies: Clean Label, we’re trying to do better
In your opinion, What is Clean Label?: No artificial ingredients, can be Organic and Non-GMO, Premium, Simple ingredients
Are sugar alcohols clean label?: Every consumer might have their own definition of clean label
Biggest challenge the food industry has to face: Food Waste
What in the food industry you’d like to know more about?: the process to improve technical sales
Trifecta of skills: lab, manufacturing, marketing
Who inspired you to get into food?: a blend of multiple perspectives and it excites me
Favorite Book: The Alchemist by Pahlo (by the way, I read it and it’s amazing)
One meal to eat for a month: Macaroni and Cheese in a pot. Annies is great. Hummus. Kirkland has the most affordable hummus tubs
What’s one piece of advice to get to your field?: If you have a food science degree, maybe minor in a business and marketing degree. We need more technical people in marketing
Anything Inspiring: If you’ve come up with a  good idea, go and chase it

Other Links

Pac Expo
Food Dive
Food Navigator
Writing Blogs
Email Campaigns
Package insights – eye tracking devices to track package integrity
4 Ps of marketing - The fifth P: Packaging
Using transparent clam shells to find out if people buy if the package is transparent
Clean Eats Franchise
Food Buisness News
How Engineers communicate 9 red lines in green ink
Vivrati Marketing – Marketing and Sales consulting
EPIC foods

Mar 6, 2017

Welcome to the My Food Job Rocks Podcast with me, Adam Yee, where we showcase amazing food jobs and interview the passionate people who drive the industry forward and this is episode 51!

We have a special guest for you today. A top scientist at an amazing food company who’s had an amazing journey. He grew up in Nandi, a district in Kenya, went to China for graduate school, and now lives in Germany! Or as he says it, made in Nandi, formed in China and refined in Germany

He’s a pet food scientist in one of the most well-known companies in the world and he really digs home on the importance of the petfood industry. So if you want to at least look into the petfood industry, this interview is for you. Hey, I made petfood at my last job, and that industry makes bank.

This is a long one, a bit dense as well, but Seroni, has a lot to offer in his wisdom. After all, his motto in life is “Just DO it, make mistakes. Learn from them. Recalibrate and move on”.

I apologize in advance for any audio issues. When editing I say a lot of uh-huhs. If that bothers you, let me know by sending a quick email saying “stop innerrupting”

If you enjoyed this episode, please, sign up on our email list at, like us on facebook,  rate and review on itunes, and share with your friends. If you show interest in being interviewed, know someone who would be a great interviewer, or would like to join our team of volunteers, make sure to email us at

About Seronei

Seronei Chelulei Cheison is a Kenyan from Nandi County, the source of Kenya’s world-beating long-distance runners. Born to a very poor family, Seronei nearly missed school as he started off as a herdsboy hired by wealthier families than his grandmother with whom he had relocated at the tender age of five. After starting school at the ripe age of nine, he went on to top his class through primary, high school and university. Eventually he went to China for his MSc & PhD graduating Summa cum Laude at China’s premier food school (Jiangnan University).

It was while in China that Prof.Dr. Ulrich Kulozik of the elite German university, Technical University of Munich. Seronei was shortly offered an opportunity to pursue the German Habilitation leading to an award of Venia legendi and certification to examine and supervise PhD candidates as well as teach Food Biotechnology. His passion is protein chemistry and enzyme technology. He was the first African to be awarded the honour by the TU Munich, which qualifies him for full professorship in a German university.

Seronei moved on to Mars Global Petcare, a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated where he leads Ingredient innovation in the company voted 99 on the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work for ( Seronei also mentors and supervises industrial attachment interns who pursue their research in ingredient innovation. Seronei lives in Germany with his wife Ednah, three children Kiptoo, Cherop and Kipchumba and their two year old male cat, Simba. He is widely published with over 25 peer reviewed papers, one book chapter and several honours including Best Of Mars which he received in 2015.

His motto in life is “Just DO it, make mistakes. Learn from them. Recalibrate and move on”.  He says that his Made In Nandi, Moulded In China and Refined In Germany makes him a child of “Three horns”, a cultural confluence that helps him navigate the exciting multicultural environment in a very traditional company like Mars. Seronei invites students to apply for internships at Mars’ many business segments and worldwide network and find out what exciting opportunities there are in the corporate world.

What We Talk About

- Difference between Germany Education versus Chinese education: Germany works as a pyramid system. A phd student has about 5 to 10 masters student. Relationship is more formal in Germany
- Seronii speaks 5 language
- A food has to be loved by the owner and the pet

Question Summary

My Food Job Rocks: I like it when people buy my products
What is your job title?: Research and Development – Global life Sciences and technology
Any Advice for working in another country?: Always try to speak the language (Senonei speaks 5 languages: Nandi- his mother's language, swahilli, official language,English, Chinese, German). Greatest asset you have in life is being multilingual
Food Trends and Technology: Pet food borrows heavily from the human food segment
One thing you’d like to know about: Epigenetics
Favorite Quote: You are what you eat, if you eat trash you become trash. Food is your medicine
Advice in the industry: Give petfood a shot. You won’t have to eat it

Other Links

Mars Inc. Petcare
Cloudy Juice – unfiltered apple juice go to careers and go to internships
Mars internships – you can travel all over the world

Mar 1, 2017

Key Takeaways

  • How leaders use family as a support network
  • How to not only innovate, but how to introduce new ideas
  • Should you incubate or join a mastermind if you choose to start on your own?

Other Links

Pina Romolo, CEO from Pico La Cucina 
Rohini Dey, Founder from Vermillion
Naz Athina Kallel, CEO from Save Good Food
Crystal MacKay, CEO from Farm and Food Care
Lisa Tse, CEO from Sweet Mandarin
Mike Hewitt, CEO from One Haus
Raf Peeters, CEO from Qcify
Ali Bouzari, CSO from Pilot R+D
Dr. Howard Moskowitz from Mind Genomics
Terra Chips
Dang Foods
Taco Bell
Fancy Food Show
Expo West
Peas On Moss


The last ten episodes had a bunch of startups and businesses that are not only innovative, but also are down to earth and realistic. It was amazing to talk to the owners! In this context, we’ll refer any owner, and founder as a CEO, though sometimes this isn’t the case. What I loved about learning from the CEOs was that these people were in a stage where they made something profitable but can also tell us the tangible tips needed to succeed in the food industry.

This episode will take a lot of excerpts from past episodes, such as Pina Romolo, from Picco La Cucina and Rohini Dey from Vermillion as they have also created businesses from the ground up. The last ten episodes brought on a great amount of guests including Naz Athina Kallel from Save Good Food, Crystal MacKay from Farm and Food Care, Lisa Tse from Sweet Mandarin, Mike Hewitt from One Haus and Raf from Qcify. Within these interviews, we see a common thread that hopefully you can dissect in terms of starting something… and executing something.

The word CEO, is fancy and powerful. Those that hold the title know that theya re the ones with the final say in anything that goes. Any initiative they bring will override any other opinion.

Being the Chief requires a special type of person. A person obsessed with science might actually not make a good CEO. Take for example both Dr. Howard Moskowitz and Ali Bouzari. Both are Chief Science Officers and rely on a CEO with a different skill set.

Ali Bouzari’s story on pilot R+D’s role describes this well. A team of three creative food professionals had hired Dana Peck to run their finances. Once they realized how essential she was on the team, they made her CEO. She was CEO because she knew much more about finance, a which is the blood that runs companies, and that her business experience trumped all three of her partners. Her experience with mergers and acquisitions in her past life brought a point that she could get clients and manage them well.

So it’s very important for a CEO to generate money and be a champion of what their company stands for. I think in most situations, a CEO is designed to generate money needed to fund the other arms and legs in the department.

Anyways, I have about 6 core topics that I found beneficial from interviewing these guests and the idea is to distill the information well enough where you can be innovative, supportive, and efficient. Let’s begin

Family Matters

Both Pina and Lisa are in family companies. Pina has her mother do the R and D work, and Lisa collaborates with her sisters. From their interview, you can tell that they are big picture, and that they are risk takers. All of the founders we’ve interviewed are.

Though I don’t want to be biased, being younger, more ambitious, and the most adaptable in your family seems to be the best indicator of being considered a CEO. Some people like the spotlight, or rather, are willing to sacrifice being in the spotlight.

Another side of the coin is Mike Hewitt, who wanted to start his own business because he wanted to spend more time with his family. The chef is life is hard, with 12 hour days and minimum pay, Mike had to decide to change jobs.

They say that an entrepreneur has to sacrifice working 40 hours a day to work 80. But most people who work those hours have their family supporting them, which I think is vital for success.

Whther you work with family or for family, a support network is necessary to succeed. We drive into this a little bit further down, but I want to state it now. The people who you care about are probably your first customers. And like all businesses, it’s important to make your customers happy

Challenging Unfamiliar Concepts and Trends

Naz and Rohini both made concepts that were risky. Naz found opportunity in ugly fruit and Rohini decided to take on ethnic indian cuisine. Both, however, added their own little twist. Naz combined ugly food with technology and created an amazing app that allows her to pick up ugly food and Rohini decided to add a fine dining element to Indian cusine to make Vermillion a hit.

Something I’ve noticed during a lot of lectures on innovation is a specific formula that is quite common. Combining a new concept with an old one and creating a new yet familiar concept. This has been the best way to introduce something really new and pairing it with something old.

A big example of something new with something old is an example I gave about an article about the Fancy Food show.

Terra Chips, who make specialty vegetable chips. I was fortunate to listen to the Financial officer speak and their story was interesting.

Two chefs were working under this superstar chef at a restaurant and the chef started deep frying things like lotus root and putting them on top. Everyone raved about them. However, the two chefs could never be as good as the superstar chef so he started to be better at something else.

They took off and decided to start frying vegetables like lotus root on their own. Soon it became things like orange sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, taro, etc. They started with a bicycle, then an ice cream truck, then finally got a distributor going.

Terra Chips uses the unfamiliar concept of fried root vegetables but sine they serve it in a familiar chip bag

Here’s a twist on it: I was listening to the snacking innovation summit the other day and Dang foods was speaking. He was saying it was thanks to Whole Foods white labeled coconut chips that they were able to be successful. An old entity introduced a new concept and people realized that these coconut chips were there the whole time.

The most important thing to know is that not everyone will like your innovative concept, but there are people who love those things. As many of our CEO guests have said, follow your audience.

From Novice to Expert and when to split

The basis of any consulting business is to be an expert in your field that is so good, people will pay you directly for your services.

Can the same be said for starting your own business? From what I’ve been researching, it depends.

From who I talked to, most businesses are born out of passion or born out of solving a problem.

So based on our guests, about 3 guests who started their business out of passion are people like Pina, Rohini, Lisa, and Naz

Rohini started with a high paying job in the business consultant industry but she found a gap in Indian cuisine. Because she absolutely loved food, she decided to dive in and conquer the ethnic up-scale dining scene.

Lisa and her sister sold their houses to continue on their family restaurant and took it to the next level. Though they might have had some restaurant experience as children, they took it to the enxt level as adults with a  sauce line and cookbook. Sometimes other types of experiences can work.

And Naz’ story is amazing. She started her business after her bout with cancer. Absolutely amazing. She has embraced technology and is solving our food waste problem.

The other 3 guests I want to analyze are people who started something because they could do it better, and that would be Mike Hewitt, Raf Peeters, and Crystal Mackay. These people have actually experience in their field and have used their network to leverage their business.

Mike Hewitt created One Haus with about two years of Human Resource experience. Maybe that’s all you need. However, Mike’s previous experience in the hospitality and restaurant industry gave hi the ability to make One Haus unique.

Raf Peeters has said that Qcify is created based on a need in the market place, but his decade of experience in optics electronics has helped him build a stable and profitable business.

Crystal Mackay has been an educator all her life and from pigs to pretty kuch the whole Canadian food industry, she’s the best at telling stories.

I guess what I’m saying is that, does experience matter? I guess not. I think (as Raf has said), passion matters. You can start something any time you want if you have decades of experience, or none at all.


I’ve written a couple articles about this on linkedin. All CEOs are innovative, either rn product, or process. It’s extremely important to develop this type of mindset as this will not only help you make great products, but also help you develop a mindset to create new products, or let me try and say it in a way you should think of it…. To develop a mindset to solve problems.

Learn How to Look for Solutions

Every day it seems like there are problems. Every second something happens at the white house, there are a bunch of problems. Though those are problems that are a bit harder to solve, it’s important to think of ways to fix them. Just imagine, nothing else. Write it down. Now more than ever, social media shows us so many things wrong with the world. If we just thought of solutions, it would make the world a better place, right?

Ugly food has been a creeping problem recently. Funny enough, we discussed it about 3 years ago in food science class and now we see people doing something about it. Naz was able to see the problem, and not only think of a solution (giving technology for farmers to tell her to pick up excess produce) but also build a business out of it!

I started the podcast the same way. Nicole from Foodgrads wrote an article about a problem, I thought of a solution to use a podcast to interview people about their jobs. It was an idea I was floating around and once I saw that someone else had a problem, I gave her a solution.

People who can analyze problems and figure out solutions are so valuable and those that execute are worth their weight in gold.

So I leave you with a challenge that every time something on the news makes you mad, sit down and write how you would solve it.

Be on the Cutting Edge

Naz mentions “uberification” to gather her ugly fruit around San Diego. Uber is technically a cutting edge industry and anyone who hops on the trend to empower people to share their assets. Podcasts are also cutting edge technically. A lot of big advertisers are looking into podcasts because they’ve noticed the podcast model makes the consumer trust the brand more.

So how can you be on the “cutting edge”? Expos like the Fancy Food Show help, even farmers markets, but also articles like foodbeast and Food Dive show amazing food trends no one has ever heard of. This is hard to realize, but if you are an expert at something, you might actually be on the cutting edge! 99% of the world’s population is probably not as smart as you are in a specific subject.

If I were to boil down my experiences, am I on the cutting edge of my industry? I focus a lot of my time on food. My facebook is full of it, I go eat at trendy restaurants for fun, I work at a private company (more on this below) that does a billion/year so they have innovation to burn, I’m networked with amazing professionals and I always ask my friends “what new technologies are really exciting you right now?”

This is not to brag, but I put a lot of time into food, and to be on the cutting edge, it does take commitment.

CEOs are experts int heir field, and theya re also the tip of the spear when it comes to making innovative postions. In factm I would say the best part about being the head of a company is that you can direct innovation in a way that you want to do. However, it’s very important to realize is that you aren’t the one driving the decisions, it’s your customers.

Make Little Bets

If you read any self-help, startup book, this is a common thread. The point of making little bets is that you have to actually do something for you to be truly innovative. Yes, to actually become the definition of innovative, you actually have to start something!

This might sound scary, but it gets easier the more times you do it. Not only does making little bets make you more creative, but it builds up your confidence and thought process where you can execute great ideas over and over again.

I’ll talk about an example. In the past, I was in a group of product developers. We conceptualize new products. Before, there was old management who would shoot down every possibility because in theory, it sounded dumb, or other political BS. But once we started actually making the product and then doing a sensory test of 20 people, people started to change their minds

Another example I give is from small projects. People are usually overwhelmed with huge goals. For example, starting your own Tech Company, or grocery store, or national soda brand. They think they have to start with a million dollars in capital to succeed. Not really. It takes maybe $500 dollars to make a product, create a label, and start a farmer’s market stand. Good luck!

Should you incubate?

Naz is the only person I’ve intereviewed who went though an incubator. Does that mean you should? A common theme I’ve seen through these leaders is that they have mentors and likeminded people surrounding them.

Incubation is a great tool when it comes to networking but from what I’ve researched, it isn’t 100% necessary. In fact, most businesses that are sorted out are more or less focused on at least having a mentor or 5 and a support network of friends.

Mentors seem to be a vital resource to succeed in life and I’ve had guests on the podcast who are not business owners praise their mentors.

I’ve had a decent amount of mentors, some I’ve paid and some that I’ve earned. Some failed in their ventures, and some say they haven’t failed.

Mentors are hard to choose from, and like any relationship, it might take a while for the relationship to click. You have to be in constant contact with each other, and in most situations, YOU have to be the one to take initiative to contact them.

My advice to finding mentors? You can join start up incubators as a guarantee, but I feel like working hard and publicizing your work is the best way to bring attraction. Not only in side projects like this one, but also in your career.

Sometimes a mentor isn’t necessarily set as a title, but rather the way you communicate. I have weekly office meetings with the Chief Science Officer, he makes room for these meetings because he likes to see me grow. When we talk, he talks about his experiences in the past on how to deal with people, or how he talks about not only the best way to solve the problem, but also why it’s the best way.

The way him and I interact, where he is passing down knowledge to me, and I am receiving and executing. That is mentorship.

A support network is also important. And an incubator can give it to you because there are people in the same boat as you.

Some people throw around the world mastermind, which I fell in love with the idea at first, but then I realized they kind of suck.

I think if set correctly, they can be a huge asset, but I’ve noticed they are only for MLMs and dreamers. Especially for starting something new, goals are really really hard. Accountability is extremely necessary, but surprisingly, you only really need one person.

The most effective way to have a support network is constant yet separate contact with people who love what you do. I’ve found tis to work in the podcast when making certain decisions. I am in constant contact with Nicole Gallace from food grads, Kim Schaub from peas on moss, Katie Lanfranki, and others when it comes to making decisions. I call them, ask for advice, and take it to heart, and execute. They do the same.

What I’m getting at in most cases, it just takes one person to help you get motivated and help you with decisions. 3 is way too many.

So finally, is incubation a good thing? You don’t need it, but you also don’t need to buy a $100 dollar outdoor fireplace, you can build one yourself. If getting the resources for a mentor and support network is too time consuming, then an incubator is a very good option,

The Food Industry is more than being a chef.

After 50 episodes ranging from chefs, product development, food authors, consultants, engineers and recruiters, I can safely say that the food industry is much more than restaurants. Mike really hits this home in his interview. You don’t have to play with food to be part of the food industry. All you have to do is contribute to feeding people. Though we do have the CEOs who have restaurant businesses here, who’d ever thing you can be like Raf and combine technology and quality control!

You can be a manager of a liquor store, or hustling people to buy wheat protein as a broker. If you love actually being involved in quote: feeling the food, that you can get a stable job and become a research chef, or you can be a food scientist.

The food industry has so many different opportunities because as we’ve heard before, everyone has to eat. And you can be just one piece of the puzzle for feeding the world. Whether you help the big companies or carve your own path.