What is the job of a food developer?
ED: I play with food for a living…and get paid for it, which is pretty cool.
AZALENAH: The job of a Food Developer is to bring ideas for new foods to life. We start with a concept and then move from idea to a visual. We need to think about what food will look, taste, smell and feel like. It is a great exercise for the creative side of your brain. Then we have to shift gears and work with food technologists and bakers/producers at our plants to turn it into thousands, or even millions, of boxes of cereal.
What sort of background or skills do you need for this role?
AZALENAH: We all have degrees in food, either in science or engineering. I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering from India followed by a master’s in food engineering from Purdue. Ed’s got a bachelor’s degree in food science from the University of New South Wales in Australia. Vanija has a master’s in food science from Alabama A&M University.
ED: You have to be curious and love exploring food. We both have a food science background. You need an analytical brain and have to understand the science or how to combine starches and proteins, but then you also need to be creative and willing to explore new ingredients and always try new things.
When did you decide to become a food developer?
VANIJA: For me, it was being in the kitchen with my grandmother. I sit with her watching her make all sorts of amazing foods from the simplest ingredients.
AZALENAH: I was always in the kitchen with my mother. That really helped develop a sense for loving food beyond just nourishment. For me, it is all the different aspects of food; not just taste‑ but look, smell, touch, all the five senses.
How do international trends and flavors affect your work?