Thursday, January 15, 2009

Science? Maybe

Looking to improve shelf life for our line of retail spreads and dips has been challenging. We are attempting to stay preservative free but increase shelf life for all products. As a chef for so many years and always looking to use product on a daily basis, training yourself to "prep" just enough to keep your station fresh, yet stocked, is the industry gold standard. When doing a line of packaged foods, most of that industry knowledge and experience is thrown out the window.

A pH meter was purchased and the data has started to be compiled. I have always been interested in food science, but until recently that interest has been explored through reading books on basic chemical and structural responses to cooking processes. Or reading text on the history of foods and pioneers in food culture. So when I started compiling actual scientific data on my foods, a whole new window of knowledge was opened that I was given a chance to explore in my most familiar surroundings, the kitchen.

The entire processes of collecting data and cataloging it has deepened my relationship with food. It is a rare opportunity for a "kitchen guy" to cross the line into food science. Perhaps an opportunity that only comes once in a cook's lifetime. But the knowledge and experience gained through such an endeavor will surely improve me as a professional for years to come. Food Scientist is maybe not a title I am ready to claim yet, but it's definitely an area of study this "kitchen guy" is ready to embrace.

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