BCFT Food Scientists Spotlight: Webb Girard & Katherine Langel
Is being an entrepreneur all it’s cracked up to be? Does the founder of CuliNex actually get on the bench? Wonder no more! We are continuing our blog series on a day in the life of a Culinologist, an insider’s peek into the secretive world of food product development. This week’s feature is Mark Crowell, Principal Culinologist at CuliNex.
What’s your role at CuliNex?
I founded CuliNex 11 years ago. We have been growing steadily and my main job is making sure that everyone has everything they need to be successful. We have an incredibly talented, self-motivated team.
To start your morning: coffee or tea?
It’s always a latte when I’m in town. I spent 7 years with Starbucks. I’m pretty addicted to my morning ritual. I have fun with latte art. This is the latte I made this morning.
What’s a typical day look like for you?
Ha! Typical doesn’t exist, which is part of the appeal I think. Today I’m working on setting up two new projects with an edibles company, (pot is legal in Washington). We work with the leading brand here on new product development.
What kinds of projects are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a project to convert the flow agent in an industrial ingredient from calcium stearate to a natural product derived from rice hulls. I’m also working on a project to replace glycerin in a dried fruit product to using a fruit juice concentrate. Both projects are about cleaning up labels and expanding the client’s ability to market their products.
What’s your favorite part of the development process?
Commercialization. I love the plants and all the machinery. I like questioning things if I think there is room for improvement. Often there isn’t a great explanation for why something is being done a certain way other than, “that is the way we have always done it”.
What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing a happy client and seeing our team grow professionally.
What do you snack on at work?
Whatever is put on the conference table! I keep almond butter packets in my desk for emergencies.
What’s your “secret” for efficient benchtop development?
A good design of experiment and a solid starting formula.
Outside of the office, what do you do for fun?
With all the eating I do, I run!
Stay tuned for the next ‘A Day in the Life of a Culinologist’.