FoodGrads Podcast Ep 28: Sharing the exciting journey on how to become a flavorist with Rachel Odolski, Flavorist in Training at the Prinova Group

On episode 28 of the FoodGrads podcast I interviewed Rachel Odolski, a flavourist in Training at the Prinova Group. Prinova is a leading supplier of ingredients and premix manufacturing for the food, beverage and nutrition industries.

In this episode Rachel took me on a journey into the world of flavours. Rachel is in training to become a fully certified flavorist so she was able to explain what the examination process looks like and how she is training for the exams. in addition, she talked about her daily duties at her job and how she approaches creating a “flavour” when a client comes to Prinova and the things she has to consider. She also took the time to explain to me the science behind flavours, what exactly they are and tools used in the trade.

I knew I had to connect with Rachel once I saw her “Flavour Fact Friday,” on LinkedIn a series where Rachel shares bits and pieces of her training. Including notes of various raw materials evaluated as part of my sensory training, fun facts, and general information. She hopes that the wonderful flavor community can join in and help all of us (hi fellow trainees!) learn together. So make sure to check her out on LinkedIn after this episode. It was so fun geeking out with Rachel about flavours she has this bubbly personality which is contagious. You just can’t help but get excited about flavours.

Hopefully, after this conversation you get just as pumped as me because this is a pretty awesome career path!

Show Notes

[1:47] [Veronica] Hi Rachel. Thank you for coming on the show, we came across each other when you started posting some really awesome posts on LinkedIn about your journey becoming a full fledge flavorist. So I was excited to reach out and get you to share your journey because it sounds like you’re really vocal in this type of area and I think that more people need to know about how cool what you’re doing is.

[Rachel] I would agree.

[Veronica] So I guess we’ll just get started into that and we will round about and talk about what you’ve been doing on LinkedIn, but I think for those who are listening I think it’s better for us to know what you are doing, and maybe you can take us on a journey of how you got here.

[Rachel] I am a flavorist in training, I am currently three and a half years, into a seven year certification process. I went to school for nursing and then ended up graduating and with a biology degree. Because I was so full fledged ready to be in the flavor industry, right before I graduated I had done an internship at Prinova and on my second day, I had fallen in love, I had called m supervisor at school saying “what do I need to do to graduate, right away?”. It was a match made in heaven.

[3:05] [Veronica] So you got this internship you’re excited to graduate. Tell me about what it is about Prinova USA, what they do and what kind of made you fall in love there.

[3:18] [Rachel] Absolutely. So, Prinova technically started as a premium distribution company called Premium Ingredients and after a few acquisitions changed their name to Prinova. They not only distribute ingredients but also create mixes to make flavors, which is what I do. And then we also have an aroma division in which they sell essential oils and aroma chemicals. So we have a lot of capabilities at Prinova and that gives us an opportunity to work with a bunch of different clients and customers That just gives us a lot of exposure within the industry. It is just a well rounded and nice little mix.

[4:29] [Rachel] I fell in love with the culture, obviously, our lab environment very open. Everybody is collaborative in the group and it reminded me a lot of playing like team sports. Everybody relies on each other to get everything done and you truly lean on your teammates here, and I absolutely love that environment. I couldn’t be as successful without them.

[4:38] [Veronica] Very nice. Because Prinova originally started as a distributor do you sell only pure products like flavor oils do you also have like other types of products like pre-made puree batches or is there a whole line of products?

[4:55] [Rachel] What do you mean?

[4:57] [Veronica] I know, I’d like to know if you sell only extracts. I know that some companies who are flavour houses also provide other products. For example, if a company was making a strawberry yogurt they could get it from the strawberry from the flavour house.

[5:19] [Rachel] We aren’t that into the raw material side. We don’t have many inclusion options but we do have juice powders. I think that’s the closest to that we do to that.

[5:03] [Veronica] So did you find the internship randomly or was it posted on your job board at school? How did the internship come about?

[5:44] [Rachel] As a hopeful pre-med halfway through school because I had just thought, nursing was not meant for me. And then, as we got closer to graduation I had looked into some internships around where I live. My uncle actually works at a different flavour company around the area. Because of that I had known about the industry. So I thought okay I will apply to this industry. It looks super awesome. Then as I had done research preparing myself for this interview and the process of learning about flavors. was like, probably the most enthusiastic little seed, sitting in that chair for interview chair for two hours.

[6:38] [Veronica] It just goes to show that your enthusiasm will get you far in terms of getting new opportunities. I mean clearly, they liked you. I mean I think it is so cool. It just goes to show the industry finds people. You don’t have to do the same thing forever. I guess it did help because you were kind of bound for the medical field and that you did have that science background, which to my understanding is very important in flavour creation.

[Rachel] Absolutely, and the semester before I had done my internship I finished my organic chemistry, and we have learned how to create a flavour because we synthesized it in the lab. I was like and that smells like bananas. It was so funny. Like, I have landed in that internship exactly after that. It was just perfect.

[Veronica] Oh yeah I remember one of the things that I loved back in high school was that we had. See I can’t even remember the compounds. Now you think I would remember when I graduated with a chemistry degree but when we were making um, like it smelled like bananas, pineapple. There’s that compound group that sound and they smell very similar and they’re only different by. You probably know exactly what I’m talking about but I can’t for the life of me remember and just doing.

[8:04] [Rachel] I’m assuming like ethyl caprolate, ethyl octanoate

[8:10] [Veronica] Yes there we go.Thank you. Then we did that same project in university and I was like this is like the coolest thing ever. How is like something like a liquid smell like a banana. It’s just

[8:24] [Rachel] Yes

[8:24] [Veronica] So I know that I’m like kind of geeking out here but for those who might not be as familiar with this I feel like I’m taking it back and I want to kind of learn about the science and sense of like when we talk about flavors and like being a flavorist. What exactly does a flavor company do I guess let’s take the question there. How does a flavor company work that they can create just this like liquid mixture and that all of a sudden has a flavor?

[8:55] [Rachel] As we kind of gone over like on my Linkedin posts and whatnot that everything that we consume much like we are broken down into cells and even further like molecular atoms. Flavors are the same way. What we taste can be broken down into like a chemical construct so if you have ever taken an essential is broken down through the GCMS into, which I can cover a little more later it is an individual chemical structures at different varying levels so that is what we perceive as flavor. Obviously we use a little bit of our like our smell, our taste, temperature, touch – all of this plays a factor in how we perceive flavour and together as like flavor chemists we are able to use like our certain materials that we have in the la. So like if you ever think of like a lime sherbet and a lime margarita those are two different types
of a lime oil that you could use.As a flavor chemist you have to know the difference when you need to use one and when you need to use the other so we have a bunch of natural and synthetic materials available to us to re-create these shelf stable flavors so we can put into various types of products.

[10:14] [Veronica]Wow that’s so cool. I mean you know you think a lime’s a lime but you know there’s different varieties of lime so it only makes sense that there’s different combinations and compounds that can be aligned.Yeah that’s cool and okay so where do I want to take that. Well I guess you know what I want to go in the direction of you mentioned GCSM. I’m pretty sure you’re talking about a gas chromatography mass spectroscopy. Am I remembering than acronym correct?

[10:50] [Rachel] Mass spectrometer

[10:51] [Veronica] So tell me as as a flavor chemist let’s walk through, let’s go with lime because you mentioned lime. If we wanted to make a lime margarita flavoring for like a beverage let’s just say and I’m a customer who comes to you.How does that process even happen or how would you start to start creating this?

[11:15] [Rachel] Absolutely so first and foremost we need to get a lot of background information about the customer. We need to know what declaration they’re going for. Are they going for artificial are they going for natural and artificial? Are they going for natural and do they need the natural with other natural flavors meaning does it need to contain the lime itself or are we able to use other ingredients
to kind of replicate a lime profile.Does it need to be organic that’s another process and then countries that the flavor is going to be sold into various countries have various different rules? Our regulatory team does a great job of kind of overseeing the different rules for all of the various countries so just having that background information is good on the forehand as we formulate our formula we know we have to like abide by those rules and whatnot.

[12:06] Another important thing is shelf space so here in the U.S we have a place called Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and they have very strict lists that you need to abide by in order to have your products on the shelf so all of these this information is kind of like gathered up front and then after that we kind of have to figure what is this going into. As well, we have to figure out the flavor form so does it need to be a liquid? Is it going into any water-soluble applications? Does it need to be an oil? Is it going into a mixture or does it need to be dry is this going to be something someone takes a scoop of and then mixes with water. So all of these things are very important and can set us up for starting our margarita flavor.

[12:58] [Veronica] Oh my gosh, there’s so much to consider before you even start to even consider like the compounds that you’re using but I guess it would make sense that you would need to know about the solubility and all those types of things

[13:12] [Rachel] Yes, absolutely.

[13:15] [Veronica] Okay, so with that so let’s just say we’re going to be creating just a open the can beverage drink something like that. Would I guess that you would take into consideration again that solubility like the compounds would have to be maybe have to be water soluble actually that makes me ask like I’m thinking like with flavor compounds like are most of them water soluble? Are there ones that are oil soluble like I don’t know absolutely.

[13:46] [Rachel] They are all almost all oil soluble so it’s all going to be and then since you said RTD the other question that we would also have to ask is does this product need to be water white which is a fancy term for clear and then can it have be a little cloudy, Like some juice concentrates out there contribute to some clouds we don’t have to uh have that cut water white

[14:15]Wow okay so when creating flavors again we’re going back to that GCMS let’s try to understand that for the people who don’t know what exactly is that and what are some of the other tools or if there are any that you would use. Again going for a margarita beverage.

[14:36] [Rachel] Absolutely so the GCMS is a tool that we use very consistently in the lab. What it does is it breaks down whatever we put in. So it can be a mixture of a finished flavor or it could be essential oils or it can be even finished product. Obviously when inserting anything into the GCMS you have to go through some processing in order for it to break down everything correctly. Our senior analytical chemist is probably the best that I will ever come across and i’d love to test that but she’s very good at what she does so she has her full extraction method that she does before putting anything through the GC because the GCMS does not handle seeds very well.

[15:28]Yes so what happens is that when you put your sample into the inlet and it goes through a column and a column is a very very long hollow coil that is within the gc. It’s the gc portion, so there’s a gas inlet that kind of pushes the sample through this column and obviously as you’ve seen racing there’s going to be some separation happening between the cars so the aroma chemicals are the cars. Here the faster cars which are typically the lighter cars are going to go through the column a little faster and then the heavier ones are going to go through a little slower so the GC is separating these compounds and then they go through an ionization chamber and then there’s a mass analyzer and then the ms portion detects and then analyzes the data so this will essentially break down our sample and then give us a general quantity of what of these ingredients are in there

[16:32] [Veronica] Okay. So I can just visualize it personally. I have used it on multiple occasions. Never for flavor stuff I mean i think that would be such a cool thing to do in the lab at school as the labs that we do in like physical chemistry we use it for like I think one of the labs was caffeine analysis. I think like the amounts so I know exactly what you’re talking about but again so cool how it’s being applied to flavors because essentially they’re just chemical compounds.

[17:01] [Rachel] Exactly and anything you break down it’s small enough whether it’s a blade of grass or a human cell it all breaks down into the little chemical compounds here

[17:12] [Veronica] It’s crazy and I guess that’s one of the reasons why there’s so many different avenues for creating a flavor because I guess, sorry my head’s going to be mile minute because I’m already thinking of the next thing because you know one of the things that one of the reasons I wanted to get you on the show was to talk about that you are a junior flavorist and i know that that is because you’re in the process of becoming a certified flavor chemist and I have heard that this is a process that takes longer than becoming a doctor I don’t know how true that is so maybe you could you could answer that but so can you tell me what a certified flavor chemist is and what exactly it is and how the process happens to go from deciding you want to be one.

[18:01] [Rachel] Absolutely, so a certified flavor chemist is someone that has gone through seven years of training, they’ve passed a test at five years and passed the test at seven years so to get considered to be a flavorist or flavors trainee you have to get your degree at a university and then with that degree you get a job within a flavor company. I am very very lucky that my internship led to a job opportunity, it’s not always that way sometimes you have to get yourself into a job and and it could be a lab tech it could be a QC or it can be in quality anything to get in and getting familiar with the materials, getting familiar with the lexicon and all of the complications that go into creating flavors.

So then once you’re accepted as a trainee you go with your mentor is just going to be you know guiding you along. This process because it’s not a classroom, it’s not a university, there’s not textbooks. It’s a lot of hands-on learning here so your mentor is going to guide you through the process teach you what you need to know and kind of push you to learn a little more in some of the areas that you might not be so familiar with so you go through and your five years comes along, take your first test. The test is compromised of a written verbal and a sensory portion so you take your written test and then after your written test there’s a verbal portion so they can have you explain what you have written and then ask you further questions. Then there’s also a sensory portion where they give you materials and you have to identify them so you do that at your five year. Then t you do it again at your seven year. Obviously your seven year test the one that certifies you is going to be a little difficult and they’re gonna they’re gonna hold you to higher standards

[20:00] [Veronica] Okay, wow so it sounds like it’s really comprehensive and I guess is it an association around the world or is it different countries have their own?

[20:13][Rachel] So different countries have their own sort of certification kind of process. Some people don’t even have certifications they’re just recognized by time in the industry. So the US has society of flavor chemist, I believe Britain has the British society of flavors and that I know they’re very active on like Linkedin and what not they post a lot of great articles and then I’m not too sure about other countries but I know others like in India have added me on Linkedin and they do have flavorist there. So it’s always interesting I also had a flavorist add me on Linkedin from Australia which I was like they make flavors? There like it should be common knowledge but it just baffles me thatthere’s so many places around the world that make flavors

[21:04] [Veronica] Oh I know our food system’s huge and you feel like the center of the universe wherever you are like it’s the only place but you know there’s certifications and so much knowledge that you just don’t even realize is out there. So one of the things that I know that you are so I’m assuming that you are in progress right now for the five years. I know that you’re a trainee I’m sorry if I’m not understanding it so it’s basically you’re getting set up to study and prepare for the examination that’s the tasting and then walk me through where you are at this point in the journey.

[21:44] [Rachel] No worries so I am three and a half years into the certification process so in about a year and a half I’ll take my five year exam which will make me an apprentice flavourist I wish it had a better title than apprentice but I’ll take it.

[22:00] [Veronica] Hey I think I think it’s pretty cool to me. An apprentice really does sound like someone who’s like headed down a path. Like they’ve decided this is what they want to do because it takes time to to really learn a lot and I can imagine if we can make a flavor, you said lexicon I’m pretty that that’s that’s like a book that like breaks down all the different compounds

[22:23][Rachel] It’s kind of the terminology that you use to describe things so within our within our lab we have tastings of various like raw materials. Whatever’s new or just things that we can find other uses for like we taste a lot of essential oils because at various levels you can use them for various things

You can even find a home and things that you wouldn’t expect it in so something like davana oil is found in a lot of like berry flavors it’s very versatile you can use it pretty much in anything and just finding the right level for it. You can stick it in there but the the lexicon is kind of like a vocab that we can use I call it flavor language so you can communicate with your co-workers you can communicate with other food science professionals and kind of be on the same page when it comes to very fine-tuned flavor variances.

[23:20][Veronica] Oh okay so in the past i had written some articles on investigating different flavors and one of the things that really stood out to me was the fact that there like you said there’s there’s a flavor language and being able to identify like this is astringent this is grassy. How has that process been to learn these because to me it seems like such a subjective thing so how as a flavorist do you take this subjectiveness and really turn it into something that’s more tangible?

[23:53] [Rachel] Absolutely, so having those tastings as a group obviously helped and then seeing flavors and this is why it’s such a long process but seeing more and more flavors you can see what sort of contributes to giving a flavor that juicy compound or that juicy note in a flavor or what’s making it very fresh, what’s making it seedy because as you make flavors over and over you can taste then and you’ll see hey this strawberry is really jammy. I see it has a little bit more brown and cooked compounds maybe that’s what’s causing this and so you just see all of these variants of varying flavors and kind of see what contributes to what sort of profile. That’s actually a part of the flavorous test is being able to call out what causes that ripe flavor and whatever fruit or whatever food they call out.

[24:52] [Veronica] Hold on so you’re saying that it’s not just texture that’s responsible for like jammy like flavors and juicy because like to me those are textural type things not flavors.

[25:06] [Rachel] Absolutely, so it’s always going to be an aroma compound kind of balance so like if you cook a strawberry there are reactions happening as you’re cooking that strawberry and those reactions also correlate into that new aroma chemical profile that that strawberry now.

[25:26][Veronica] Oh my god, okay so my mind’s blown right. Now I honestly thought it was just all like I know that there’s the reactions that happen when you do cooking and all that but like I didn’t realize that there is some parts of it responsible as the compounds not just texture.

[25:45][Veronica] Oh wow okay, so that’s really cool. I guess under your training right now you said that you’re not quite an apprentice just yet you’re a trainee but can you walk me through how your day-to-day work looks like at your job I know for example today you’re working from home but I know it would also change from the day to day but can you just talk about in general type in the tasks that you perform as you’re in training and I was also curious, I guess this could differ between companies but as someone who’s in training are you one to have the final say on something going out of the door or does it always have to go through your mentor.

[26:25]Absolutely so that’s definitely going to be something that varies company to company I am lucky enough to have been working on projects with the guidance and then not on my own but that’s not always the case and just being at a smaller flavor company you have to like put on your hat and kind of work through it ask the questions as you struggle but my day-to-day i normally come into the lab have to have my coffee that’s a must and you would think that you’d think at a flavor company we’d have good coffee like we make flavors but no I normally pick up my coffee before I come in. After that I’ll kind of sit down look at my project load, kind of measure the due date see what I need to get accomplished. I’ll check to see if any flavors have come back from being processed on like the spray dryer or back in production and evaluate those and see how they’re going. There I can make adjustments to the ones I’m working on and then further work on the new projects that I have coming in and if one of the flavors is good to go then I have to get it ready for the process of being reviewed before we send it out. So although I’m working on these projects mostly on my own right now I do have to send off my flavors to be reviewed by someone that’s a little more senior than I am. So there is a check process in place and obviously they review it they make sure it’s good they are if they need to ask any questions or if they see I might have missed something that’s listed on the project that they don’t see in my flavor then we can make some adjustments that way and then after that it gets sent over a regulatory makes their check and we get all of the documents that we need to send that flavor out and pretty much my whole day is just a revolving circle with a few distractions by my wonderful lab mates because you can’t go without that and you know there’s equal amounts of like you know paperwork, meetings, proactive initiatives that we have within the company that we have to go over and make sure that now we aren’t working just on like the reactive projects and getting stuff out the door for customers but we’re also looking ahead and working on those new trends or something some new innovation that’s always a different day but it’s exciting because you know it’s never the same flavor that walk into the door

[29:00][Veronica] I can tell and it sounds like you have a good combination of you know being in the lab but then also having stuff outside. It sounds like it’s a lot of project management. So one of the things I was also curious about is that you’re creating different combinations and I was curious if how much cost plays a role in terms of creating flavors and then this is my next question because i know cost would be associated. where something comes from but like where do flavor compounds actually come from that you’re making and how and are there differences in cost between them.

[29:38][Rachel] Absolutely, so a lot of like the raw materials that we use they’re extracted from natural sources or synthesized if they’re artificial so they’ll be synthesized nowadays we do mostly natural flavors just because that’s where everything is kind of trending so a lot of those natural flavors are made with like very natural ingredients and you know the cost is obviously going to vary based on how it is like how easy it is to synthesize or extract or I’m not into the chemical creation thing but it’s just it’s a varying cost for everything but at the end of the day we do have some flavors that a general flavor price guideline that we like to stick by. That way we kind of price it and have it be reasonable for our customers because nobody wants to spend an arm and a leg for a flavor. Of course I know for most manufacturers if you can get its cheap as they can but as natural and like hitting all the check marks that’s kind of the end game for a lot of people. A lot of the times like we can even say like “hey this isn’t going to be possible at the price point you’re looking at and you know we can do this”

So it’s it’s all working within the customer’s budget and making sure that we can also provide a really great tasting flavor too

[31:06] [Veronica] Oh yeah, I can imagine that it would be so cool just to work with a client and then seeing them you know happy at the end with that you you see at the market oh that’s the product that I know that we designed the flavor for like that’s so cool.

[31:23] [Rachel] Yes, oh so last weekend it was independence day weekend here we had gone up and I had found one of my products on the shelf and I was just in like beaming with excitement and we picked up quite a few at the store we were at just so I can keep one on the shelf and you know kind of keep it forever like oh I did this one.

[31:46] [Veronica] Oh that is such a cool feeling. I can imagine. Oh, it sounds like you have such a cool job and i mean i know we’ve probably already touched upon it but I want to know just firsthand like what do you love about your job.

[32:01][Rachel] Oh my gosh it’s so hard to limit just a few things but I love the environment. I love just having a different kind of day I’m not sitting at my computer all day although there might be days where I need to to get some work done and I’m on my feet using my skills and my sensory skills. Like it’s very hands-on and just interacting with everyone within the lab that’s just such a great environment. Trying to think of myself doing something else and being under that stress like if I make a crappy flavor in the lab and I completely butchered my numbers and it tastes like butt nobody’s gonna get hurt, no one’s gonna die. It’s it’s just a failed trial and then you go back to the drawing board. You learn from your mistakes and then you move on. It’s such a great way to learn and just to live. Like okay you know if I do mess up this one thing it’s not going to be the end of the world we don’t have to send it out I can just work through it and learn from it.

[33:40] [Veronica] I like that and I can imagine to know being in a type of R&D process you’re going to go through hundreds of different combinations just to get to the one. So having a job that you’re right having a job where someone’s not gonna die. I mean maybe that’s that’s a low bar to be trying to reach but at the same time it does sound like your workplace is a good environment to really cultivate and like just go for it.

[33:43] [Rachel] Yeah absolutely and just having my co-workers there kind of guiding me along the way because I’m not a super taster. It’s not it’s not true you don’t have to be a super taster to be a flavorist so you just have to know how to take some feedback from everybody so I might be able to pick up some certain vanilla notes a little easier than my other co-workers but my other co-workers could pick up maybe like cd or like astringent notes a little more and just knowing what I need to adjust my formula based on their comments it can really help us out because everybody’s sensitivities are different and you just have to accept and kind of relay that information into your flavors.

[34:28] Well that’s another cool thing I never even thought about, different people have different like tolerances to different flavors and all that and hence why we have different preferences so it’s cool that you’re like again you got that team environment like you said at the beginning of our chat with who you work with as well one of the things that we you mentioned that you’re not a super taster but then at the same time besides using your your nose and your mouth in terms of tasting what are some of the skills that you use, what are some of the skills that are important to your everyday job?

[35:05][Rachel] Yeah so obviously smelling, tastings, working well in a team environment. That’s also very important other like physical skills is definitely you’re going to be the need to be a little strong there are some containers that are a little heavier just having the physical skill to work a pipette and just you know precisely,weigh out ingredients. That that’s definitely something that you need to practice and get good at.

[35:38] [Veronica]I’m trying to think I don’t know it’s good that you point that out because ‘m imagining that on a scale in terms of flavor testing you use very very small amounts of things

[35:46][Rachel] Yes absolutely.
[35:59] [Veronica] It’s amazing how small the amounts of something are like I know that we you know if you’re at a manufacturing plant you just like pour out the jug out but then like doing a trial on the scale that you use maybe like doing a small trial within like taste testing within your group I could imagine it would be very, very small amounts

[36:08][Rachel] Absolutely flavors aren’t typically used at very high levels too so you just really need a small little sample in order to taste and test it out in application.

[36:18][Veronica] And I do and if I’m not mistaken that one of the reasons why we are able to safely consume flavors right because isn’t there like a threshold for when something is deemed like not safe but because we consume it at like such small levels that we really don’t have to worry about it?

[36:37][Rachel] Yeah absolutely, so in like certain instances we’re consuming them at lower than it would be in a finish like in a strawberry let’s say those aroma compounds that we’re using they’re normally lower than what would be
in a finished good

[36:54][Veronica] Okay, so it does make sense because I know that I would imagine that you’re well aware of this but there’s definitely been a lot of talk in terms of like safety and you know there was that big shift away from synthetic flavors even though a lot of them are were safe anyway for consumption but you know a lot of people prefer the natural which I totally understand so it’s just interesting how again we’re working with chemicals but then at the size and just all that type.of stuff

[37:24] Yeah absolutely and I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of making natural flavors and being able to use like ingredients like savannah oil to kind of replicate a natural product by using some essential oils which everybody seems to love right now too

[37:42][Veronica] That is true but it’s cool to see and I love the attitude that you’re taking as well that you know it’s a challenge and it does sound like your job is really mentally stimulating you know you get to be that master kind of like mixing everything together and figuring out what the customer likes. I can imagine it’s very mentally stimulating

[38:03][Rachel] Absolutely and you mentioned a key word, What the customer likes. I’m pretty sure there’s been a few
times where I’m like this flavor is fantastic why don’t they like it butit’s it’s really pleasing the customer and then ultimately the end goal is the consumer so just creating a profile that you know most people not everyone’s gonna love it. Most people like is critical and just you know you can make a pretty great flavor but not everyone’s gotta like it that’s

[38:30] [Veronica] That’s true. Yes I think that we forget that. Especially I remember when I was doing a co-op and I was in R&D I was like this flavor hands down best one and then they’re like no let’s go with this one and I was like but why not?

[38:47][Rachel] Yes we have very, very fine-tuned pilots in R&D so sometimes we have to take that step back and really think about it as like a consumer. What are they expecting and what kind of flavor profile are they looking forward TO.

[39:00] Well that makes sense and one of the things that I forgot to actually ask earlier which would have been beneficial when we were talking about your training program. I know that you’ve been studying for your exams and of course I know you’ve been sharing a lot of this knowledge on Linkedin which everyone I’m going to be linking some of the posts because you have to check them out there’s really cool to learn about but I wanted to know how you’ve been actually studying for the exams besides just going into work

[39:32][Rachel] Absolutely so a lot of the hands-on learning that I get to go through at work seeing flavors every day kind of just going and pasting different profiles looking into those formulas and seeing what they used and whatnot and having that library of previous formulas and formulas that are being created kind of just helps build that knowledge of everything. I’m spending some time in production seeing how those operations work seeing how the scale up happens that’s all very important a lot of reading articles onvarious different websites I think Perfume Flavors is the one I had originally started as an interim justlike logging in every morning and reading that until I got my things to do for the day just kind of staying on top of the industry otherthings that I’m doing are like we haveour tasting sessions every week and we taste various materials at different levels that helps develop an understanding of everything, smelling everything even though you might know what it smells like just kindof reiterating it in your brain. Making sure that memory happens and justyou know staying on top of regulatory stuff flavor labeling is like a whole section on the society of flavor chemist syllabus so just knowing what the FDA, the USDA, the TTB, various standards of identity. All of that that’s not something thatjust comes to you in a project it’sstuff that you have to like go out and research and kind of learn about so it’sa lot of you know self-motivated learning. I know some flavor industries have certain flavors and training programs but theykind of guide you through it but there definitely self-motivated learning kind of bouncing information off of each other and like learning together so you find something out you learn something sharing it with the group making sureverybody’s on the same page because if everybody’s on the same page we can onlyget better from there

[41:45] That sounds so cool. What you’re doing I mean it’s getting to study but in an applicationway because it’s not university courses anymore. You’re self-motivated like you said so of course that’s going to drive you even further and seeing that tangible application. You don’t really get that with things that aren’t food exactly

[42:00] [Rachel] Yeah I love the environment, I love doing what I do and just you know having that self-drive has always been something that i’ve learned. Playing sports you’re not going to get better at a skill unless you practice it so it’s something that we take seriously because. We do have a physical type of skill that we’re learning here.

[42:15] That makes sense and I guess this is the perfect time to ask for anyone who’s listening what advice would
you give to someone who wants to pursue a similar career path to what you’re taking right now

[42:45][Rachel] Get into a lab like get into a lab as soon as you can and be involved. Offer your help go outside of your job description and kind of take a hold of your own knowledge. A mentor has to choose you to train you so building that relationship with them and showing your passion that you’re gonna take your training by the reins and kind of go with it and do what you need to do to make it happen not only is that less work for your mentor but it’s more rewarding when you work at it yourself

[43:21] [Veronica] Awesome well I think that’s great advice so anyone who’s listening if you want to do this get in the lab. It’s definitely a lot of science you’ll see but thanks so much Rachel for coming on the show before i let you head out I just wanted to know if people wanted to find you and see some of your amazing Linkedin posts where can we find you.

[43:44] Absolutely, so I am the only Rachel Odolski in the world so go ahead and google me. You might find my Instagram page but there’s no flavors there I would go to my Linkedin post and I like to post various things just kind of covering the aspects of flavors a lot of these things are on the syllabus I use. The syllabus as a good study guide and I’m able to communicate that with people kind of bring down the level of my posts so that everybody can understand because food should not be complicated it should be very easy to digest and understand perfect.

[44:22] [Veronica] Again i can’t say enough everyone that you have to go check out these posts I think that it’s hard to find information like that for a more general audience I mean like you said you can go look it up in you know the books and that but having something that’s readily accessible Rachel’s been doing like a really good job at that so. I’ll make sure to share that in the show notes and once again thank you so much Rachel for coming on the show this hour flew by and I have been mind blown for the fact that jammy flavors are flavors and not textures.

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