Jul 16, 2020

Donning the chef’s hat

Juan Villa / The Collegian

From working on product development in the lab, to the labeling, packaging and marketing of a product, the new culinology program at Fresno State is helping students find the key ingredients to opening their minds to the way they prepare food.“We are learning that this is a fast paced industry. From the time you enter the classroom, everything is go, go, go and you have to be ready,� said 22-year-old Culinology major David Hickok. “I am getting to do what I love and that is cooking. Plus, this industry can take you places and it is in demand.�

Culinology is defined as the blending of culinary arts and food science, while culinologists determine the taste and trends of millions through food production and preservation research, which affect the quality, taste, texture and visual appearance, said Klaus Tenbergen, professor of culinology in the department of food science and nutrition.

“With food fads, trends and tastes, along with scientific food knowledge changing course so rapidly, today’s culinary students need giant helpings of hard science in their academic diet,� he said. “Students should be scientifically oriented, because chemistry and food science are major a large portion of this program.�

The culinology option, which is a part of the food and nutritional sciences major and is endorsed by the Research Chefs Association, prepares Fresno State students for a career in the fast-growing field of food research and product development as a corporate chef or a research chef.

“I believe our program will be the leading one, not only in California but nationwide,� said Tenbergen.

Since the program’s establishment last semester, the resulting products, such as bread, truffles, tamales, muffins and cheesecakes, have been sold in the Farm Market.

“When we enter the classroom, we are dressing up and looking the part,� said Philip So, who is a 24-year-old Culinology major.
“Ultimately, we build upon different techniques in a unique way.�

In the classroom, students are not only learning about nutrition, trends and product development, but they are also gaining knowledge in the areas of food constituents and functionality, ingredient functions and selection, quality control and quality assurance, food preservation, packaging and regulatory aspects of food processing, said Tenbergen.

However, in addition to learning different techniques, students are learning a lesson in communication, organization, working in a team and time management, which is a crucial component to the industry.

“Overall this experience has opened my mind up to new food choices, because it introduced me to different techniques of preparing food in a healthy way,� said 20-year-old Jessica Maddox, who is a junior majoring in physical therapy. “The amount of time people spend cooking is low and I think that it’s important for people to know the basics.�

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