Endless hours of research and the work of countless people lead up to the moment that your favorite ice cream melts on your taste buds. Martin Cauchon joined Rhino Foods in September of 2019 as a Food Technologist on our R&D team. With an impressive background in food science, Martin has had his hands in hundreds of product development projects throughout his career. Now we’re fortunate to have him putting his expertise into the deliciously delightful products we make here at Rhino. We joined him in our lab for a little Q&A to learn more about his flavor-filled world:
Martin, tell us what you’re most excited to bring to Rhino Foods.
My problem-solving attitude. Before joining Rhino, I worked at Keurig Green Mountain and I mostly focused on powdered beverages – instant cappuccinos, hot chocolates, and coffees. The challenge was: how can you make a product that’s shelf stable, easy to drink, offers a certain functionally and tastes great.
I’m always thinking: how do we create a new formula that nobody else has done before? It’s about thinking outside the box and leveraging what I’ve learned from my previous roles and applying it here at Rhino.
What exactly does it mean to be a food technologist?
A food technologist is somebody who thinks about all aspects of the project. It’s about project management, it’s about flavor development, and it’s also about how we are actually going to make a product in real life. Just because we’re able to make something in a lab doesn’t mean it will work when you scale it up for a full production run. It’s using a scientific approach to develop a product that can safely be produced at scale, and then leveraging the artistic side of flavor development to create a successful product.
What are the most important principles of food science?
I would say food safety is the absolute most important. Your product needs to be safe so people don’t have to think about taking a risk by enjoying it. That’s always number one. Then it’s about understanding the consumer and what they want in a product. You can deliver the most efficiently produced chocolate piece, but what if that’s not the flavor profile they were looking for? So it’s really about understanding the consumer and translating those insights into a safe product.
What flavor trends do you expect to see hitting the consumer marketplace in 2020?
I would say it’s a continuation of the alternatives. So for the meat industry, plant-based options. For us, it’s vegan inclusions and vegan ice cream. It’s a growing niche and not a lot of companies are able to execute it well, so it’s an interesting opportunity. We’re also increasing our focus on snacking. We are creating new ways for people to enjoy our ready-to-eat products by putting them in convenient pouches that they can easily snack on. Cookie dough anytime and anywhere – what’s better than that?!
There also seems to be a growing trend that focuses on going back to basics, using as few ingredients as possible to deliver a great tasting product. Clean and simple. We like the idea of a clean ingredient deck. People want to be able to read our ingredient list like a recipe versus a chemistry experiment.
Final question is always the most important: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor…of all time?
Oh, I have to think about this. I really enjoy the Magnum pints. They use simple ice cream flavors, like vanilla or hazelnut, and they’re coated in chocolate on top and outside. It’s really just a good excuse to eat chocolate. The taste is good, but it’s the full experience that makes it exceptional. First, you take it out of the freezer and wait 10 minutes for the ice cream and chocolate to start melting. Then you crack it, and you hear the sound of the chocolate breaking, and you dig in. The different textures – super crispy chocolate and sweet and creamy ice cream – hits all your senses. To me that makes it a really delicious and interesting product.
Martin always takes on the scientific approach with a smile on his face. Maybe it’s all that ice cream he can’t wait to sample…With Martin and his R&D team in the Rhino lab, you can count on us to keep dishing out delightful desserts, with safety top of mind.