OUR HEAD OF R&D GEEKS OUT

Tell us about what it was like to study food science.

The thing I loved most about studying food science was the fact that I got to constantly use all my senses in my studies. Whereas most of the other science students had their faces buried in books, mine was buried in edible experiments.

I did my final project on chocolate - because why not - and got paid by a huge chocolate company (wish I could say who but I’d get sued) to see if I could find a way to reduce the calorie & sugar levels of milk chocolate. So I spent 6 months making, tasting, smelling and testing different chocolate recipes. Turns out it’s not possible.

Geez, all that effort for nothing.

Yeah, but I got to play with chocolate for 6 months! Food science is cool that way - whereas other studies like drug trials can take years or even decades to see whether they’ve been successful or flopped, this is a much more immediate return. You can also see your work directly affect people - seeing someone’s face when they try a product you’ve developed is the best feeling.

Can you give us a few nuggets to impress our friends?

Sure - here’s a good word for you to pull out at dinner parties; ‘Neophobia’.

Food neophobia is a natural reaction to flavours that is biologically imbedded in us to protect us from being poisoned by potentially harmful foods (ie. bitter/sour). When we are born, we are automatically attuned to sweet & fatty flavour from breast milk. After that, it’s up to other influences to form our palate. 

We rely on other people to expose us to novel flavours that may be confronting at first but are not harmful - this is called ‘learned safety’. It’s also the reason why your mate down the street who was raised on chicken nuggets may have an aversion to a super spicy Nasi Goreng, for example.