My Food Job Rocks!
Ep. 237 – Breaking Down Sensory Methods, Smells and Tastes with Ivy Koelliker, Director of Consulting at Sensory Spectrum

Ep. 237 – Breaking Down Sensory Methods, Smells and Tastes with Ivy Koelliker, Director of Consulting at Sensory Spectrum

Sensory science isn’t just tasting, it’s so much more. After all, you have five senses. What about the feel of toilet paper? Or the smell of kitty litter, or the sound of paper crackling. Not only that, but the metrics you use and how you train your panelists all matter when it comes to getting valuable data for your product.

Though Sensory Spectrum is a service, I ask Ivy Koelliker, on some tools and tips that either you, the budding food entrepreneur or the food technologist on the bench can use to optimize your prototypes.

From cat urine to plant-based meat, this episode has it all. How do these relate? You’ll find out.

Special thanks to Kristin Bernardi for not only being a fan of My Food Job Rocks but also reaching out to interview one of many extremely talented colleagues. Why did I choose Ivy? Mainly because her blurb had to do with plant-based meat. Yes, the big secret, I interview people to help me do my job better!

About Sensory Spectrum

Founded in 1986 by Gail Vance Civille, Sensory Spectrum provides Consumer Research, Descriptive Analysis, Training & Education and on/off site Sensory Services Management. Our research and consulting span a wide range of consumer products and ingredients to include foods, non-foods, packaging, and devices. We have onsite objective panels, consumer quantitative & qualitative research, discrimination testing and data analysis, with experienced sensory scientists trained in project management and creativity to provide guidance and data interpretation to our clients for everything from fuzzy front end research to claims support.

About Ivy Koelliker

Ivy Koelliker joined Sensory Spectrum in 2010. As a Director at Sensory Spectrum, Ivy manages a team of consultants whose expertise spans a wide variety of consumer product categories and sensory research techniques.  Ivy specializes in food descriptive analysis and training food descriptive panels, and has expertise in statistical techniques, including linking consumer and descriptive data.  Ivy has an M.S. degree in Food Science from Rutgers University and completed her B.S. in Biological Sciences there, as well. She also has a Grand Diploma in the Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute.

Show Notes

How do you describe what you do?: I taste food and I tell people about it
Sensory Spectrum
Malodor – analyzing and mitigating bad smells
Trained Panelists – we hire trained panelists
Spectrum Method Training
How to taste better?: Remove personal bias, be descriptive, and practice, practice practice.
When you practice, taste various different products and be aware of the notes
What is the flavor that your company wants? What is the flavor your company wants to convey?
Buy top competitor products and see what’s similar and different among them
All food companies have plant-based meat divisions
What have you noticed about plant-based meat: The top tier companies nail appearance, getting close on texture. Flavor: some are getting close but no one is hitting it exactly.
Meat flavors tend to be in the meat broth or mushroom flavor notes. It’s great, but misses the mark
National Restaurant Association
Did you find out about food science before college?: No. I found out about it during my Masters
Rutgers University
Culinary School taught me the ways of working and being efficient at work
After Culinary School, I decided to get my degree in Food Science and then worked in the sensory lab
Dr. Beverly Tepper
Food trends and technologies: Sustainability
Research Chef Association
Griffith Foods
Sustainability is a trend
Non-traditional Savory options
Boba Popsicle
Sensory Evaluation Techniques with Gail Civille (owner of Sensory Spectrum)
ASTM – Documentation for sensory test protocols
Delgado Coffee
How do you get into Sensory Science?: Though a degree will give you an edge, some of our people don’t have sensory sciences but you can still get internships or be an analyst.
Statistics is very important in Sensory Science
Because food is personal, we have to really eliminate the bias of our controls
Sensory Spectrum – you can send a quick message


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