Jonathan Deutsch, a Professor of Culinary Arts and Food Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, is applying culinary solutions in the food industry both in the classroom, and in the student-run Drexel Food Lab. As the head of the lab, he and his team work on product development and food innovation that focuses on solving real world problems in the food industry. During his Excite Talk at the upcoming Summer Fancy Food Show, Deutsch will focus on a new type of “triple-bottom line” for food manufacturers, offering insight into how to keep the earth and the people living on it happy and healthy.

What first got you into the field of food science?

I’m not a food scientist, but rather a cook who works to apply culinary solutions in the food industry. One thing I learned working with big food companies is that the same tools used to make industrial food tasty, affordable, addictive, and wonderful from a sensory standpoint, could be applied to good food projects supporting health promotion, sustainability, and inclusive dining.

What inspired you to launch the Drexel Food Lab, and what sort of projects are you currently working on there?

Because we have both culinary arts and food science programs, undergraduate and graduate, at a university, we’re often asked to work with the industry, government, and nonprofits to help them tackle real world problems. We started the food lab a few years ago to aggregate this work, so that students would have a consistent schedule and we could formalize our offerings to the industry. The lab gives students an opportunity to work side-by-side with industry professionals during their schooling so that when they’re ready to graduate, they already have great contacts and experience.

What will you be talking about during your Excite Talk at the Summer Fancy Food Show?

The talk will focus on a new type of triple-bottom line for food manufacturers. We all know people-planets-profits. The products we produce can (and should) be good for the earth, good for health, and make us money.

Why do you think those in the specialty food industry need to be informed on food innovation?

The food world changes constantly. As soon as you are up on trends, there are new ones. Rather than “trend chasing,” running around trying to see what’s hot, we try to get at the root of the problem—what’s the challenge consumers are experiencing and how can we develop something that could then become a trend to offer a solution.

What is the most unique food product you’ve tasted recently?

I just tasted a sugar that makes giant natural crystals and had a floral scent like honey. We talk a lot about innovation but a lot of innovation comes from responsible sourcing and paying attention to long-standing traditional foods as well.

Jonathan Deutsch will talk about food innovation at the Summer Fancy Food Show on June 26 as part of the LevelUP experience. Admission to LevelUP requires a premium pass.