Associate Food Technologist, Savory Lab
Zack Goldstein knew from an early age that he wanted to merge his love of chemistry and the culinary arts. As a food technologist at International Flavors & Fragrances, he fuses lab equipment with kitchen appliances to create savory taste experiences for major brands producing ready-to-eat meals, pastas and soups, among others.
How did your background & interests lead you to IFF?
I started taking classes at the Institute for Culinary Education, in New York, while I was still in high school — but I also had a deep love of science, so I found a college major that would let me combine the two. I discovered IFF while doing an extern program at Campbell’s Soup. I initially thought I’d work for a major food company, but realized I could do chemistry while still exploring the culinary side at IFF.
What’s a typical day like for you? What is the development process like?
I alternate between time in the kitchen and the lab, interspersed with meetings with flavorists (who make the flavors that we then use in products). We also have daily tastings of flavors where we ask ourselves, and consumers, if a product is balanced, and if it meets our high standards of taste.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love getting creative about new dishes – for example, my work on a set of Asian side dishes was better informed because of the time I’ve spent traveling around Asia. Time abroad definitely gives you a better understanding of the essence of different cuisines, and you can innovate to achieve the flavor target more quickly.
What challenges do you face?
The main challenges are short timelines — sometimes less than 24 hours — and working creatively around specific parameters, such as using all-natural ingredients while staying at a specific price point.
What makes IFF a unique place to work?
Since we’re a business-to-business company, we don’t divulge what we make – and that means people may not know anything about IFF. We also have a unique mission. We aren’t just making scents or tastes – we’re creating experiences for people. We don’t want to give mac and cheese “a flavor” — we want to give people something that’s reminiscent of their childhood, the full experience. I find that unique and rewarding.