Attended: AACT Technical Seminar 2015
 “As a graduate student in food science at Penn State, I am passionate about the food industry. Thanks to the generous people at AACT and
especially those at the Allured fund, I am now equally as passionate about the confectionery industry!
After receiving my B.S. in food science from Purdue University, I knew that I preferred to pursue a career in product development. I wanted to expand my critical thinking skills, so I decided to head off to graduate school. I had always loved candy and other sweet food products, and I became involved with members of the AACT alongside my research. Intrigued by the difficult problems that face a confectionery technologist, I was very interested in attending the AACT technical conference in the fall. I was able to attend this year’s conference schedule-wise, but financial limitations were making it more difficult. The Allured fund graciously offered me a scholarship that made it possible for me to attend the sessions.
I very much enjoyed this year’s AACT conference. I love that the sessions include many different points of view in the proceedings. A small-scale bean to bar processor spoke about the challenges of bean sourcing and bar production right after a flavor technologist discussed the technical difficulties of natural versus artificial flavors. The variety of topics was pretty incredible. My favorite talk was Dr. Rich Hartel’s research on fat bloom in chocolate. I had previously only understood bloom in a general sense, but his talk was thoughtful and made me think more about what causes polymorphism in fat crystals and the physical change in appearance on the surface of the chocolate. I also really enjoyed Chuck Dodson’s presentation on the commercial growth of mint. I knew absolutely nothing about the vast world
of mint, and Chuck’s talk included samples of mint aromas that helped me differentiate between spearmint, peppermint, and many others. 
I am finishing my Master’s degree in May, so the AACT is an important networking opportunity in addition to an amazing educational event. Without the Allured fund, I would not have been able to attend this conference. I am extremely thankful for the grant awarded to me. Thank you so much!
Attended: PMCA Production Conference 2015
 “My experience at PMCA was genuinely one that I will not forget—from the wealth of information presented during the Basics and Beyond seminars to the massive collection of candy received after the dinner. At the Basics and Beyond presentations, I gained valuable information about the proper use of various fats in chocolate production and how new regulations may effect formulations. The live demonstrations brought to life the messages presented, and it was remarkable how the different cocoa butter replacers could be detected in the chocolate samples provided. Moving on from the Monday morning presentations, the exhibit hall was truly impressive.
Though I am the manager of a chocolate production team myself, the saying “small fish in a big pond” has never been more relevant in my life thus far. Such noteworthy companies were present, and the innovative products and machinery were stunning. My co-manager and I were inspired by several booths on ways to improve our products and our efficiencies. The flavors tasted stunned us; from a flaming hot peach gum to a hard candy that remarkably resembled an Arabica bean, the science being done in the flavor chemistry realm brings a smile to my face. It was inspirational to see and connect with people who shared my passion for the development of innovative food products and the chemistry behind them.
On Tuesday especially, several of the presenters seemed so young, and yet so successful. I once believed that in order to attain positions such prestigious positions as R&D manager or to be even considered to address such prominent confectioners and actually influence the direction of their product development would require decades of experience and a collection of degrees. Yet these individuals proved extremely knowledgeable, respected, and purposeful. I know that for me personally, the presentations on trends in the industry sparked ideas for product development at Cal Poly Chocolates, and from the questions posed by others, it was evident other companies were interested as well.
 It was the first presentation bright and early Tuesday morning that spoke to me most. Laura Shumow from the NCA spoke of the new laws and regulations concerning labeling and formulation, and as a small business that does not have anyone truly plugged in to the FDA network, the information she presented was invaluable. I found myself jotting down page after page of notes and penning multiple questions for her to answer. Cal Poly Chocolates will certainly benefit from this information, but furthermore I feel that I will benefit from hearing Laura speak. Her passion for the material and her job was evident, and as I have multiple times considered pursuing food laws and regulations, I was ignited by her passion and eager to look into her career path. I could see myself standing in her shoes in the future.
 To me, that is what the opportunity meant: a kindling to the torch of my passion for the confectionary world. Sitting next to a long-standing scientist at Hershey during dinner, chatting with a member of the Mars team over lunch, and listening to the esteemed president of the NCA following Tuesday’s dinner were just some of the experiences I had the pleasure of partaking in thanks to the Allured grant. I did not realize how interconnected the professionals of confections are, and what a genuinely friendly, innovative, impressive, and happy collection of individuals they are. I hope one day to no longer be the small fish in this big pond, but to be a full- fledged member and contribute to the industry.
  During dinner, when the awards were presented, Jane Cottonaro of Hershey turned to my co-manager and me and said, “That is going to be you up there one day.” I cannot think of a greater joy to look forward to, and I plan to work diligently to live up to her prophesy. The Allured grant enabled me to further my knowledge of confectionary science and trends, but more so to ignite my passion, interact with the industry, and envision my future.”
Attended: RCI Creams, Fondents & Fudges 2014
My RCI experience in Dayton, OH was amazing! The instructors were phenomenal, it was truly amazing how much information they knew. I felt like there was a great mix of in class learning and hands on instruction, it was fun to try out new recipes and new cooking methods and seeing how each one makes the product a little bit different. But I think my favorite part was learning from the other chocolatiers at the course, we all had our specialties, and everyone was willing and excited to help their fellow course- mates solve whatever problems they had. As for Esther Price, they were wonderful and I would like to give them a huge thank you for opening their factory for us to learn in, and even more so for actually running the machines and doing some real production. For me it showed where my goals can be set, and just how big this kind of a business can get. The employees were exceptionally kind and helpful.”
Attended: AACT Technical Seminar 2014
“As a food science student at Purdue University trying to break into the confectionery world, it can be difficult to make connections and learn about candy science. There are very few industry connections at Purdue that deal with this sweet world. Michelle Frame, one of the very few candy Purdue alumna, offered that I should try to attend the AACT conference in order to meet all of the important technical people in the industry. After figuring out how to fit a day of the conference into my schedule, the Allured fund very generously sponsored me at the event by paying for my registration fee.
At the conference, I had an amazing experience. I learned so many exciting new things while also meeting tons of fantastic people. My favorite talk was by far the caramel discussion from University of Wisconsin. I never knew so much about caramel and the different problems it posed in production. I loved getting to see, taste, and feel the different caramels and their pitfalls.
Another great talk was the cooling effects of fats. In my education, we’ve always talked about the cooling effects of sugar alcohols, but never that of fats. I learned a lot about how the structure of fat influences many sensory characteristics in products. Another event that I really enjoyed was the Iron Confectioner competition. I thought it was not only fun to watch, but fun to try all of the products that the competitors made. It’s always interesting to learn about how different people conceptualize one ingredient’s inclusion.
The people at the conference could possibly be the best part about the experience. Everyone was so friendly and knowledgeable, that it solidified my interest in the field. I loved networking and learning about all of the different companies that were represented at the conference. Michelle Frame became my pseudo-mentor and introduced me to everyone she knew (which was basically everyone there). She was a help to me more than she knows.
I really enjoyed the AACT, and the grant provided by the Allured fund made it possible. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to have exposure to the confectionery industry. Be on the lookout for me at future conferences!”