Ep. 099 – The In’s and Out’s of IFT with Karen Nachay, Senior Associate Editor and Jay Gilbert, Manager of Career Pathways at the Institute of Food Technologist

As some of you know, whenever I’m sent for business, I try my best to meet with people wherever I can. This time, it took me to Chicago. So I took a few days off and asked if I could come into the IFT office in the heart of Chicago. I talked to a few people on staff due to my role as Chair of the Cactus IFT section, but I also was able to get an amazing interview with two IFT employees. Karen Nachay and Jay Gilbert.

Fun fact, I worked with Jay as an undergrad in college.

So a main theme in this interview is food science, how we all found it, and more importantly, how IFT can help you as a food scientist.

As you know, IFT has a variety of tools for food scientist and Jay and Karen break down how to use these resources.

We talk about webinars, the best way to take your time on Expos, the Food Evolution movie, the really cool things happening with IFT Next, everything IFT is in this episode.


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Key Takeaways

  • How Karen, Jay and I found out about food science
  • Info on webinars, IFT’s Expo, IFT Next, and plenty of other IFT tidbits
  • Cookbooks, how to get recipes, and how we use cookbooks differently

Question Summary

Best thing about your job: Jay- Working with experts everywhere in the food industry. IFT has 190 passionate volunteers

Karen – Researching and writing about new food ingredients. It’s very interesting to learn something new

When was the first time you learn about food science?: Karen – My roommate told me about it. My roommate actually switched into food science.

Jay – I wanted to go into culinary school and went on a tour about food science. Went to Massachusetts. For IFT, I was a volunteer since I was a freshman and rose through the ranks thoughout my college career. This opportunity to came up and I took it.

How do most people find out about food science?: Most people find that it’s a love of food. But even basic sciences anywhere can be applied to food science. You either find out about it early, fall into food science, or someone tells you about it later in life

What is the most important skillset in the food industry?: Curiosity, Willing to learn new things. Food industry is constantly changing. Communication skills, especially now, with the complexity of talking about food, we want to arm food scientists with the power of knowledge. Keep envolving. How you and the work that you do matters. How to have scientists present their research

Volunteer Leadership training – Telling your story. Recorded at: http://www.ift.org/community/new-professionals/emerge-live.aspx

What other resources does IFT use?: Webinars, IFT expo. You have the opportunity to talk to IFT any time to ask what you want them to do for you. Just contact info@ift.org

How can you optimize your IFT Expo experience?: First off, plan ahead. Don’t segment yourself to one specific thing. Spend your day to “taste the buffet”, such as seminars, show floor, and the mixers

Online directory, print directory of things

Also check out the ELN Emerging Leaders network

Also check out the Food Evolution movie

On Transparency: Food is more controversial and mainstream. IFT is trying to educate consumers and food scientists to communicate together

IFT Next: Startup focused section. Big initiative from Ingredion. We look for startups who will disrupt the food industry and we want to support them. The most beneficial part of the program was for these startups building their network

Food Disruptor Challenge – Startups who will be competing Shark Tank style

Digital improvements to IFT – Virtual webinars, or 1 page digital pdfs. We’re looking at a bunch of opportunities. Have more TED Talk like opportunities

What type of food trends and technologies?: Karen: Flavor trends and Clean Label. It’s everywhere!

Clean label tips for Adam
Pumpkin Spice Latte might be trending out. Maple might be taking its place
S’mores
Cold Bew Coffee
Flavor House email lists
VR and Augmented Reality will change the game.SPIN class changes with Augmented Reality
Innova and Fonterra both utilized Virtual Reality

The biggest problem the food industry has to face: Social Media and everyone can talk about anything. As scientists, how do we communicate the right things properly? Not to divide, but to collaborate

If you want to be a food communicator, contact IFT and we will connect you to a program. info@IFT.org

Who inspired you to get into food?: Jay – My Grandma. Karen- I fell in love with food when I was actually studying food science. When I was a kid, I wanted to make soup and I started dumping spices

What got you involved in IFT: Jay – As a young kid, I joined my local food science club and my advisor pushed me to get more and more involved in IFT. For Karen, one of her professors got her involved.

Shoutout to professors: Dr. Lathrop, Dr. Sam Gugen and Dr. Julie Goddard

Favorite Kitchen Item: Karen – Vitamix. Jay – Kitchen Aid
Favorite Books: On Food and CookingFlavor Bible, Ratio

Favorite Food: Karen – What’s the best thing you ever ate?: Lenya Brava Baja California restaurant. Butterflied Striped Bass cooked on an open flame. 4 different sauces.
Jay – Phuket Thailand’s Tomyum Penauts and Tomyum Soup.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to go into the food industry?: Find your passion and take a holistic approach to the industry. Food Science has an opportunity for everyone. Find a professor you can lean on, always be willing to learn something new.

What do you think you need to learn to get you more prepared for the workplace?: Try different things, start networking. Who you know is really important. Get out of your shell and just talk to people. They are definitively willing to help.

Where can we find you?:

Jay Gilbert: Social Media or email: jgilbert@ift.org

Karen : IFT flagship magazine food technology. Ingredients Section

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