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ABOUT ME

WHERE IT BEGAN

Baby Sam

Growing up in a family of feeders, food was always a source of joy and comfort for me.

 

As time passed and parents, teachers and mentors steered my persistent curiosity into more academic territory, I was given a book that would open a whole new world to me: On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.

 

At that point, food became a fascination.

 

Why does a fried egg turn white? Why does meat brown? Why does beer foam but water doesn’t? How can every cheese taste different but just be made from milk? And, more recently, why won’t my sourdough rise?!

After a life-changing 8 week apprenticeship in the experimental kitchen of Heston Blumenthal’s iconic Fat Duck restaurant learning how to make Bacon & Egg Ice Cream and washing a lot of dishes, I went off to the University of Reading to study Food Science.

I was in heaven: food and science. My curiosity and appetite were finally satisfied for the next 4 years.

Sam in the Fat Duck development kitchen

MY EXPERIENCE

Kraft Foods

In the Tassimo Coffee R&D Team, I led the development and implementation of a high-tech image analysis system for inspecting espresso foams providing the leading edge in consumer sensory research.

Mars Drinks

As part of a multi-million dollar innovation team I designed a patented espresso capsule and a brand new high pressure coffee machine to brew it; a bit like Nespresso but not as sexy. Working closely with Design Engineers, Product Developers and Factory teams we took the design from concept to launch around the world.

innocent drinks

As a packaging expert, I was involved in many new product launches. Fundamental to the success of these launches was sustainability - by reviewing current supply options, knowing the recycling process inside-out and selecting only the best suppliers, I improved the quality of available recycled material, doubling average rPET content from to 50% across the range and set a new benchmark in the industry. One of the final projects I delivered as a Packaging Technologist was commissioning a brand new high-speed aseptic filling line in Germany; completing factory and site acceptance testing of packaging components before committing final capital for new equipment.

innocent drinks

Sourcing exotic ingredients from far corners of the world doesn’t come without risk to food safety, sustainability or people. Environmental risks arise from the misuse of agricultural chemicals and most of all to the farmers and their families from poverty, exploitation and child labour. Sourcing from countries where these risks are a reality requires expert know-how, detailed risk assessment and appropriate mitigation. I visited Zimbabwe to review the food safety, traceability and assess the impact of the Baobab trade on remote farming communities. After a week's driving the length of Zimbabwe following the supply chain of foraged Baobab from tree to export pallet, I was well-equipped to recommend the necessary mitigations and gain support from the business to leave things better than we found them.

Pret a Manger

Pret was in a period of transformation when I joined; reflecting and learning following the tragic death of one of their customers. The opportunity was there to rewrite the rule book on supplier management, supply chain transparency and allergen risk assessment. We were given a mandate to delve deep into our supply chains; interrogating every detail within our supplier’s factories and right back into their own supply chains with the sole purpose of collaborating to raise their standards and practices beyond the basic requirements of BRC certification. It was eye-opening and reaffirmed for me the importance of doing customer “Technical Visits” to create a record of due diligence for your own brand, never settle for certification alone.

Daylesford

Having always strived to do the right thing, Daylesford Organic approached me to find the most sustainable packaging for their food. Their desire to lead in the luxury retail space was clear but they, like many, were misinformed about the technicalities and sustainable credentials of packaging materials. I delivered a bespoke training session on packaging technology and recycling, completed a retail category review, recommended sustainability projects, such as light-weighting or increasing recycled materials, and introduced them to better suppliers.

M&S

I aspired to work at M&S since university; the pinnacle of the industry, creators of the ready meal and almost every industry best-practice for food safety, processing and food security. Looking after almost 30 suppliers, it was a retail baptism of fire; launching the enormous and transformational Ocado partnership, managing Brexit's impact on our operations, delivering six entire range reviews from concept to launch and, to top it off, keeping the nation fed during COVID-19, as well as the day job. 

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