Sarah Masoni’s depth of understanding of the food world spans far and wide – she’s a senior faculty research assistant and food and process development team manager at the Oregon State University's Food Innovation Center Experiment Station, was previously a food technologist at Gardenburger, and is a recognized flavorist. During her Excite Talk at the Summer Fancy Food Show, Masoni will discuss the intersection of creativity and science as it relates to food.

What first got you interested in food innovation and technology?

Innovation has many interpretations. For me, it’s teaching someone to do something that they did not understand, so that they can create an idea that they had in their head. In my case, it’s with food. I first became interested in innovation when I discovered that I was able to take food ingredients and put them together in ways that may not have been thought of previously, and come up with innovative but simple, healthy foods.

On what sort of Food Innovation Center projects are you currently focused?

The FIC projects right now are exploring uses of reduced calorie sweeteners, fermented beverages, frozen desserts, alternative protein sources, foods for people with health issues, and foods made with ingredients foraged from the forest.

What do you hope to educate people on during your Excite Talk at the Fancy Food Show?

I plan to talk about creativity and science and where they intersect in the food industry, and why food entrepreneurs are keeping our industry vibrant.

How do you hope to impact the future of specialty food?

The work that I have done with food entrepreneurs and their food ideas will impact the future of the specialty foods industry because the companies that I work with are passionate about their food products and tend to be successful examples of food start-ups, many of them growing into full scale companies that we would consider successful in Oregon. We consider job creation, use of local Oregon and Northwest ingredients, and sustainable production practices to be very critical to the future of Oregon. Genuine belief in a better food system drives foodies from Oregon to create high value, high quality, hand-crafted specialty foods.

As a cheese enthusiast and a member of the American Cheese Society, what is the best cheese you’ve had recently?

Rogue Creamery Smoky Blue. I love that cheese on a sweet cracker with butter.

Sarah Masoni will talk about food technology and innovation at the Summer Fancy Food Show on June 26, as part of the the LevelUP experience. Admission to LevelUP requires a premium pass.