2009 Flavor Symposium: Back to Basics


“What makes a great flavorist?” asked Society of Flavor Chemists president Jack Fastag (David Michael), opening the 2009 Flavor Symposium in Princeton, New Jersey (full text below). “It is a truly multidisciplinary endeavor. It demands the ability to integrate a diverse range of knowledge and skills drawn from a wide array of fields—technical and artistic. It is not surprising that it takes so many years to master. The steep learning curve may seem daunting at first, but with curiosity, determination and hard work we slowly gather the necessary tools to be successful.” In that spirit of expertise and education—“one of the cornerstones of our organization”—the two-day event provided a rare opportunity for colleagues (both veteran and new) to share knowledge and exchange insights. “There’s nothing like listening to fellow experts to spark ideas.” Fastag concluded, “Challenge yourselves.”

In coming weeks, new presentations will be added to this page.

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2009 Flavor Symposium Opening Remarks by Jack Fastag

Good morning!

On behalf of The Society of Flavor Chemists, Inc., our board of directors, and the Symposium Committee, I’d like to welcome you to the 2009 Flavor Symposium. It is truly a privilege and an honor for me to be addressing you today.

Our bylaws establish education as one of the cornerstones of our organization, and it is in that spirit that we offer our Flavor Symposium every five years. So let me begin by showing you a few of the things I’ve learned in my career:

  1. I’ve learned the importance of adding flavor to a product.
  2. The meaning of teamwork at a flavor company.
  3. The value of descriptive analysis.

I usually ask myself: What makes a great flavorist? Our profession is truly a multi-disciplinary endeavor. It demands the ability to integrate a diverse combination of knowledge and skills drawn from a wide range of fields, both technical and artistic, so it is not surprising that it takes so many years to master. To be successful, a flavorist must develop skills from both sides of the brain: scientific understanding and logical thinking need to be balanced with creativity and a sense of aesthetics.

This steep learning curve may seem daunting at first, but with determination, curiosity and hard work, we slowly gather all the tools and skills that are necessary to be successful. This Flavor Symposium strives to provide you with some of these building blocks. Even those of us who have been in the industry for some time can surely benefit from revisiting these foundations; there is nothing like listening to fellow experts to spark ideas and perhaps re-ignite our creativity. Over the next couple of days we have the unique opportunity to listen and learn from many experts in our profession. I encourage you to ask many questions, challenge our speakers, and most of all challenge yourselves.

Before we get on our way, I’d like to take a very brief moment to thank all of our speakers for so graciously accepting our invitation to be a part of this event and for their willingness to share their knowledge and ideas with us. Together they represent decades of accumulated experience. I encourage you to take the time to read their bios in your program.

Our appreciation goes out to our corporate sponsors as well, for helping out during these tight financial times. And to Joan Harvey for spearheading the sponsorship effort. And I would personally like to thank the Symposium Committee for all of their hard work: Mike Fasano, David Johnson, Hedy Kulka, Kathy McNamara, Anthony Rella, Ketan Shah, and Kathi Sparks. This entire event would not be possible without their efforts, and they should feel proud to witness the outcome of their labor today.

I would also like to thank my fellow members of the board of directors for their input and support: Ken Kraut, Steve Ruocco, Gary Raab, and Aaron Graham. I am honored to be your president on this occasion.

But most of all, we thank all of you, the attendees. You are joining us today not only from around the country but literally from around the world. I welcome each and every one of you here, and encourage you to participate beyond this Symposium in the many programs and activities that the Society of Flavor Chemists has to offer, which you can always find on our Web site. We look forward to meeting most of you during the next two days.

And without any further ado, I would now like to present Mike Fasano, chair of the Symposium Committee, who will introduce our first speaker. (Thank you)


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