Our Trip to Givaudan Evokes Childhood Memories
One of the greatest things about the Culinary Science Program is the passionate pursuit of knowledge that every student undergoes. Each day in the program provides a concrete understanding of the ingredients that we use—from when it is first grown or cultivated to when it is incorporated into a dish or product. In Modern Industrial Techniques, one of the topics covered is flavorings extracted from mixtures made from fruits, vegetables, or other ingredients. So it was only natural for us to take a road trip to New Jersey to visit Givaudan, the world’s leading flavor and fragrances company.
As the world starts to demand more natural additives, companies are cutting back on artificial colorings and flavorings. Givaudan creates natural extracts and flavorings from ingredients ethically sourced, such as Madagascar vanilla beans. We had the honor of touring the entire facility with Chemist Jim Hassel, who specializes in natural products, citruses, essential oils, and spice extracts. Witnessing the extraction tanks, large amounts of ingredients and equipment used for producing flavorings and oils was awe-inspiring, and knowing that every part of an ingredient was being used in efforts to be sustainable was reassuring.
Walking through the storage room, surrounded by barrels of finished, varied flavorings, was the most interesting experience for me. The flavorings were strong and pleasant, and released volatiles that brought me and my classmates back to different phases of childhood:
- The combined aromas of strawberry, watermelon, and lime reminded me of the Hubba Bubba gum that my friends and I would desperately seek as children during the summertime.
- A particular lemon aroma made me think back to the time I sold lemonade with my childhood friends.
- Other fruity fragrances reminded my classmates of gummy bears, skittles, and grape jolly ranchers, which were popular treats when they were younger. For a second, it felt like we were kids again.
Food has an impeccable way of allowing the consumer to experience sensations that mimic the past. It was the same at Givaudan, which made our visit truly unforgettable. It allowed us to better understand the relationships between science, food, and human-felt experience. Being able to learn more about flavorings, their extraction methods, and how it all becomes a final product is something I recommend should be an ongoing part of the program. Not only was it a fun way to gather those with similar interests, but a way to truly understand what it takes to create a worthwhile product.
By Catarina Da Silva
Catarina Da Silva is a student in the CIA’s culinary science bachelor’s degree major.