We recently posed questions to three Edlong team members to understand how they use flavor science and culinary artistry to deliver authentic dairy taste, and Gold Standard recipes. We welcomed Corporate Research Chef Anne Druschitz CRC®, Junior Food Scientist (and recent CIA grad) Madison Giacherio, and Edlong R&D Applications Intern (and also recent CIA grad) Domenica Lazo.
Thank you for your time answering our questions regarding flavor science. As trained chefs yourselves, you know that chefs are always looking to replicate “Gold Standard” recipes. How would you define “Gold Standard?”
Anne: For me, Gold Standard is the culinary version of ‘best in show’. Does it taste home-made? Is it balanced? Does it make you go back for a second (or third or fourth) bite?
Madison: It’s almost like a role model; you want all other versions of that recipe–be it low fat, high protein, reduced sugar–to develop and grow to be like that original recipe.
Domenica: The Gold Standard is the absolute best representation of a product one person could find or make. It’s a target when creating new products.
So, tell us–how does Edlong use culinary arts and flavor science to help chefs recreate Gold Standard recipes?
Anne: The reality of a Gold Standard recipe is that, while delicious, it may not be cost effective or reproducible in a manufacturing setting. Flavors can provide both signature taste profiles and functional attributes.
Madison: Exactly. We begin the process by tasting the Gold Standard, if available, and discuss its ideal attributes. Then we turn our attention to the restrictions: what does the current product taste like and what do we need to do to get it to that Gold Standard? Do we need to add mouthfeel or creams to create a creamier product? Is it supposed to taste like aged Cheddar or a more subtle Mozzarella? Then, we head to the lab and brainstorm and test various versions inhouse to see which achieves the best results.
Domenica: That’s right. First, the Gold Standard must be created, and once that standard is set, we help provide what could be missing. We might need to add some acidic flavors to enhance saltiness if something was made with low sodium. We taste test and make small batches with different flavors until we can have a good grasp of what is working and what is not. And from there we can layer our flavors to make the product well-rounded.
Can you give us an example (or examples) of a specific application you have worked on?
Anne: We enhanced the cheese impact in formed meat products (like pork sausages or beef meatballs). Adding diced or shredded cheese to a meat matrix can be a cost and processing nightmare, and can make your meatball too expensive to produce. You can also have issues sourcing the amount of specialty cheese that you’d need, and minimizing the sodium and fat content. Cheese flavors can boost the impact of the existing cheese that you have while keeping costs and other fluctuations to a minimum.
Madison: Vegan Pao de Queijo. Pao de Queijo is a Brazilian bread that puffs up in the oven and is filled with gooey cheese. I had the task of attempting to make this vegan. It took around nine different trials to finally get the bread to puff up a bit and to get that gooey center without it being a rock on the outside.
Domenica: That sounds delicious. Recently, I have been developing a croissant using a fat source that does not impart flavor in order to cut this pastry’s ingredient cost. Then, I worked on flavoring the croissant’s flavorless fat with a low usage level of natural butter flavor to mimic the authentic taste of true butter.
What do you think makes Edlong’s approach different than that of other flavor companies?
Anne: The way we approach flavor development and application is much more collaborative, both internally and with our customers. For example, our sensory work includes tasting and evaluation sessions with chefs, applications scientists and flavor chemists.
Madison: Our expertise in dairy profiles means we have incredible knowledge of what our flavors can do other than just add flavor. We know which butters and milks mask pea proteins and which Edlong® Sweet Spot can help make your cocoa stand out. We must think outside of the box in order to see the full potential of each flavor.
Domenica: I also appreciate our focused approach to flavors. While other flavor houses can produce many different flavors ranging from fruits to licorice, Edlong chooses to focus on dairy flavors specifically. But even in this category the options are immense.
We talk about how Edlong balances flavor science with an artistic and culinary approach. What does our tagline, “The Scientific Art of Authentic TasteTM”, mean to you?
Anne: Using flavors in unexpected and creative ways to make all foods delicious!
Madison: To create a traditional/staple/wow food, snack or beverage takes skill and a lot of trial and error. The combination of knowledge in food and science is what enables Edlong workers to take those better-for-you, plant-based or ordinary formulations into loveable food experiences.
Domenica: To me, “The Scientific Art of Authentic Taste” means that there is a strong team of professionals working diligently to provide our customers with exactly what they expect to taste in every single food, even if it’s vegan, gluten-free, reduced sodium, or a reduced sugar item.
Thank you for talking with us today about culinary artistry and flavor science and what you do!