Major: Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Science
Job Title: Food Technologist, Signature Brands, LLC
Location: Ocala, FL
Ever wonder how new foods get developed and who’s behind these innovative formulations and recipes? Oftentimes, there’s a CIA graduate involved—one like Evan Bollers. After graduating in 2014 with his bachelor’s degree in culinary science, Evan went straight to work for Ocala, FL-based Signature Brands, a manufacturer of specialty baking and dessert decorating products, including kitchen classics like Betty Crocker and Cake Mate.
“I work on the New Product Development team, where one of my core responsibilities is to develop, with direction from the company’s market research, both new products and line extensions for existing products,” he says. “I dedicate a lot of my time to scaling up formulations that I have been working with in the lab so they can be produced on a larger scale in a plant environment. I also often have to design experiments to test claims we are making on labeling or to qualify different suppliers; I spend a lot of time talking to vendors of raw materials so they can help provide me with the ingredients and flavors I need to meet the goals of my projects.”
Evan’s CIA education informs and shapes his work every day as he continues his journey of lifelong learning. “What I got from my culinary science degree was problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, as well as the ability to speak in the language of science,” he says. “I learned that, in science, certain words like ‘confident’ and ‘significant’ take on a different meaning. Thanks to my degree, I’m able to communicate with the scientists who work around me, while still having an anchor in food science and professional cooking that guides and dictates the way I work and develop products. There are a lot of skills I developed in HACCP and microbiology at the CIA that could help me take on a role in food safety and quality control in the future as well.”
Another vital skill Evan gained from the culinary science program was effective researching, including seeking out the correct source for the most reliable information (e.g., peer-reviewed literature) and learning how to ask the right questions. Through the curriculum, he also learned how to properly synthesize information from experimental results and several different sources, and present it in a clear and simple way for others to understand. “In my job, I’m constantly gathering data and information that I have to interpret and present to my superiors or employees in other departments who do not have a scientific background and need accurate information to make strategic business decisions,” he says.
Evan recalls his CIA days with fondness. “For me, the pleasure of studying and working alongside people who are just as passionate about a certain topic as I am was priceless,” he says. “There’s a certain fraternal love that was developed between all of us and our teachers, especially in the Culinary Science Department, that I’ll never forget. It motivated me to work harder and do things I didn’t think I could do. I know I’ll be glad that I have the CIA’s name on my résumé, but in the end, it was the zeal and ability I developed for working hard in a team to meet goals and accomplish great things that I will value the most about my education.”