A “Rich” Experience for Culinary Science Students
CIA culinary science students couldn’t contain their excitement about their recent visit to Rich Products’ innovation studio and R&D lab in Buffalo, NY.
“They rolled out the red carpet for us! They stopped their production to let us see what they do every day.” —Paige Catoire
“It was an eye-opener! Everything we’ve been learning in class, we got to experience and see up close.” —Majestic Lewis-Bryant
“I loved seeing how everyone had to work together to make one product…micro, marketing, assembly, engineers. It was more than just the food!” —Laurie Borden
“We got to do a lot of fun stuff. It was amazing!” —Adam Giordano
These were just some of the student reactions following the trip with their instructor, Associate Professor J. J. Lui. It was a nearly six-hour drive each way, but well worth it to get a firsthand look at Rich’s, whose portfolio includes creative solutions geared at helping food industry professionals compete in foodservice, retail, in-store bakery, deli, and prepared foods, among others.
“The trip was unique,” Adam says. “We had a chance to hang out together in Buffalo and bond as classmates. Then we got to watch chefs use advanced equipment and make a product in the test kitchen. The biggest thing was seeing how they test their idea, how it goes from ‘Plan A’ to finished product.”
Rich’s team of associates was just as excited about the visit. Rich Products R&D Manager Leah Schatzline came away impressed with the students’ knowledge and enthusiasm. “They were engaged, professional, and asked many thoughtful questions about product development,” she says. “It was a great opportunity for Rich’s to support a program that is positively impacting the food industry.”
It’s an industry Laurie can’t wait to join. “I really want to get into the research and development field,” she shares. “So what Rich’s is doing—developing products and then bringing it to the masses—was great to see. The pilot plant was really cool, with the big industrial equipment sized down so they could test and record on site.”
A Full Day of Fun and Learning
The day’s agenda included a tour of the Rich’s Innovation Kitchen and R&D area, a rotation of R&D presentations, and finally the opportunity for the students to make their own lunch using Rich’s ready-to-stretch dough.
“Working with the new dough was great; it was really easy to stretch out,” Adam says. “We got to be creative and make a bunch of pizza pies with fresh ingredients.”
They even had the chance to chat with a CIA culinary science grad, Rich’s Food Technologist Megan Lodes. “It was cool to hear how Megan created a doughnut using food trends like we do in class,” Paige recalls. “She presented 12 doughnuts with non-traditional flavors to a client, and they narrowed it down to three before making their choice. Megan was telling us about all the projects she does, and she pretty much has free rein.”
Ready to Make a Difference
The culinary science students are all looking forward to the day when they get the chance to express their creativity and talent in the food world. “Going to Rich’s showed me that culinary science has several aspects, whether it’s being a development chef, examining food microorganisms, doing sensory evaluations, or establishing shelf life standards,” Majestic says. “I feel like I have so many options. I can probably do all of them!”
It’s that versatility Rich’s especially values in CIA culinary science graduates, says Leah. “Having culinary skills and food science knowledge is an advantage when developing new food products because it helps to better understand our customers and create outstanding value-added products,” she explains. “Many of our development projects have chefs and a food scientist working together and often approaching the project from two different perspectives. Culinary science helps to bridge the gap that exists between chef and food scientist.”
That’s one of the many things Adam appreciates about the program. “The hands-on part stands out the most,” he says. “You get to apply your knowledge and enhance products to make them better. With the world pushing for cleaner labels and more organic ingredients, it’s important for chefs to be able to do this—to find easier, more cost-effective ways that also taste good. That’s where the culinary science comes in.”
And that’s why class trips like the one to Rich’s are so valuable—and so exciting—for students.
Interested in getting immersed in R&D, product testing, and other innovative hands-on activities? You’ll do all that and more in the CIA Culinary Science bachelor’s degree program.