Face-to-Face: Meet Kyle Walcutt June 2017

Ever wonder if anyone else is facing the same professional challenges as you? Or just looking to connect with some new people in your field? In IFT's Face-to-Face series, we will be introducing you to a different IFT member every month with a fun, insightful Q&A session.

 

Kyle WalcuttThis month meet...

Kyle Walcutt, Food Scientist, Interbake Foods

  1. How did you get your start in the food industry?
    I’ve always had a passion for food. When I was young, I would always get scolded by my mom for experimenting in the kitchen and not following recipes. I went to culinary school with the intent to become a Chef in the foodservice industry but came to the realization it wasn’t for me (and quite honestly wouldn’t pay my student loans). I’ve always had a strong curiosity for the science behind culinary arts and baking, so naturally I pivoted to food science and nutrition. My first internship was with a small brand called Made In Nature that was rapidly expanding their product portfolio. Just before I was hired, the Product Development Manager left and her roles and responsibilities became mine before my first day. It was sink or swim and that’s when I realized that this was the environment for me.

  2. What do you love about your job?
    I’m a problem solver. In my current role, I develop for our Norse Dairy System division which supplies ice cream wafers and cones to nearly every frozen dairy facility in North America (and many abroad). The products I develop have to perform exceptionally in highly-automated, fast-paced production environments and often on equipment of our own design. We develop close partnerships with our customers and continually work with them to ensure our products and equipment are fulfilling their needs. I’m proud to play a key role in ensuring our customers receive the level of support they need to be successful.

  3. What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
    There’s a large focus on “Clean Label” development initiatives to fulfill customer request, comply with new legislation, and adhere to internal and external policies. The sheer volume of these requests can be overwhelming and often require the replacement or exclusion of functional ingredients. Everyone defines “clean label” differently, making each request unique. Finding replacements and modifying formulas and procedures to compensate for these changes can be difficult considering operational efficiency and consistency is one of our highest priorities. Some requests are easier to accommodate than others but I love the challenging requests because it gives me the opportunity to learn something new.

  4. What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
    Prior to joining the Interbake team, I would have considered myself a novice baker. In fact, my roommate in college would publicly shame me on Facebook every time I would burn something in the oven (although it’s hard to compete since she majored in baking and pastry). In addition, this is my first extensive exposure to manufacturing. Although I’m constantly learning, it’s impossible to know everything and my ability to rely on and learn from others has been integral to my success. I’m surrounded by people with diverse industry and educational backgrounds, some much longer than I’ve been alive. It would be a shame to miss the opportunity to learn from them.

  5. How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
    I see a growing emphasis on environmental consciousness, sustainability, and waste reduction. It’s finding its way into every aspect of the food we eat from where and how it is grown, how it is processed, all the way to what happens to the packaging after it’s disposed. This isn’t a new trend, but consumers and companies alike are beginning to realize how multifaceted food production is and we’re seeing companies and products evolve to accommodate the growing population of conscious consumers and ethical eaters. The evolving political environment around climate change continues to give companies and consumers more incentive to approach these issues in new and unique ways. Lab-grown meat, boxed water, and “ugly” food are just the tip of the iceberg.

  6. Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
    I’ve been asked this question countless times since I began cooking as a child and to this day I still don’t have a definitive answer. I’m an adventurous eater and I’m always looking to try something new, whether it’s a new ingredient, combination of ingredients, or method of preparation. My favorite thing about eating is the experience and to me there’s nothing better than trying something new even if it turns out to be bad. So, I guess my favorite food would have to be “the thing I haven’t tried yet.”

If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at khensel@ift.org or 312-604-0211.