Joe Hildebrand: Certified Culinary Scientist
July 29, 2021
From knife cuts to the molecular structure of your dinner, Joe Hildebrand knows it all.
As the Pilot Plant Manager at the NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL), Hildebrand manages the 3000 sq. ft. pilot plant and its equipment while implementing daily production, planning, and execution for the lab. He recently earned the title of Certified Culinary Scientist (CCS) from the Research Chefs Association (RCA).
Hard Work Pays Off
This distinction is geared toward food scientists who need to learn the culinary approach to food science. The certification requires a minimum of three years in a professional setting for food and beverage product development. From there, the coursework is 120 hours of direct hands-on culinary training. Hildebrand describes these four weeks throughout the year to be a “shotgun blast of all culinary knowledge and techniques.” He completed the coursework at his previous position prior to the pandemic, but he took the 100+ question, two-hour exam this past April.
A Real Asset
The knowledge, skills and experience earned in this certification empower Hildebrand to better scale the flavor profile of entrepreneurs’ creations. The homemade flavor is the culinary gold standard that he would not be able to achieve without the holistic knowledge of flavor development, learned during his CCS training. Hildebrand is now able to bridge the gap between culinary art and the scientific aspect of food.
CCS is “not a one-and-done certification,” according to Hildebrand. Recipients must recertify every five years with a fee and 75 hours of continuing education. This can include trade shows, lectures, publishing a paper, committee involvement, and professional development courses. The culinary world is ever-changing, so it is beneficial for these scientists to stay on top of new culinary techniques and processes.
Ready For More
Another certification Hildebrand has received in the past is the Better Process Control School from the US FDA. In this course, he learned processing techniques, safety principles, and pasteurization requirements. Hildebrand is interested in pursuing the Certified Food Scientist (CFS) certification, offered by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and focused on food science and safety. Additionally, the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a certification called Project Management Professional (PMP) that Hildebrand learned about from colleagues. He heard it is challenging, but feels the content could be beneficial to his role at NCFIL, much like his newest distinction.