Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I wanted to work in hospitals and nursing homes and felt like it would be a good career path outside of the traditional foodservice jobs in restaurants etc. I was working for a contract feeding company and wanted to expand my skillset and knowledge while working in the industry.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
I work as a liaison between product development and QA department. I am a thought partner for the product development team. I help the PD teams from a culinary, food science and quality point of view analyze and decide what type of food products need to be selected and tested. I work side by side with the food manufacturer and the PD team to ensure the product is produced correctly per the specification that is written.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
I use project management tools and time management to accomplish all my daily duties.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
I developed the 1st production assessment guidelines for the private label QA team. The QA team will visit the plant where the product will be produced and use the 1st production assessment guidelines; to verify that the product that is being produced for the first time is adhering to the specification that was written. This allows the QA team to verify that the product formulation has not changed and that the product meets the expectations of the gold standard formulation that was agreed upon.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
Officially, my first paying job in the foodservice industry was in the United States Marine Corps as a food service specialist.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
In the foodservice industry, Chef’s R. Alford CEC and L. Gilpatric CEC, at the University of Akron’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts program. In the R&D industry Jon Dareff CFS is my biggest mentor, he trained me to develop products that can scaled up to full production without having to use a pilot plant.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Making sure that the members are happy with the products that are developed and sold to them. We do an extensive amount of research, testing and vetting of suppliers to ensure that our club members are getting the highest quality products.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Working in the test kitchen and developing innovative on trend food and visiting plants to help troubleshoot formulation and production issues.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I read a lot of industry magazines and I eat at different restaurants wherever I travel and industry conferences and trades shows.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
I see the foodservice industry continuing to demand clean labeled food products as well as demanding more food products that are out of the box on trend foods from around the world.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Get as much education as possible; don’t be afraid to go back to college even if you think you are too old to be in college. Follow your passion, if you have a passion for food and you want to be a chef then set a goal to be a chef and get the necessary training. Have a plan and don’t be afraid to look outside of the traditional lines of foodservice employment. They are many areas within the food industry that are fun and challenging.