Thu Trang (Chloe) Hoang is a 2021 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation & Food Science Technology Co-Op program and served as a research assistant with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre from January 2020 to May 2021. Chloe is employed with Give & Go Prepared Foods Corporation as a food product developer assistant.
I really appreciated R&I for the opportunities and the experiences, and for providing the foundation for me to get my current position.
Tell us about where you work:
Give & Go Prepared Foods Corporation is one of the companies under the Mondelez International umbrella. The company is one of the top sweet baked goods providers in North America. Give & Go is often known for its brands such as t two-bite, Create-A-Treat, Mason St. Bakehouse, and The Worthy Crumb Pastry Co.
Describe your role and what you like about it:
My current position is a food product developer assistant and I started just four months ago. I am still new to the company, yet I have already learned a lot from everyone here. I am lucky to get a job that is related to my field of study and related to what I love: baking.
At Give & Go, I get the chance to understand the full process of how a product gets commercialized. I can see how different departments work together, how baking products are made at the production facilities and tested at a plant trial; and how a project is managed and completed. I even have a chance to help minimize the impact of real issues such as the availability of ingredients and COVID-19 on food production processes.
How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?
Working at R&I has allowed me to build experience in creating new product recipes, and modifying products and processes to meet regulatory requirements and clients’ requests. Many things that I am currently working on at Give & Go, I had similar tasks at R&I. I am very thankful for the opportunity at R&I.
A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
One of the most exciting projects that I worked on at R&I was the cricket project [Entomo Farms’ edible cricket food line]. It was the first time I worked on something outside of our daily consumptions. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to work on alternative protein and interesting products in the future.
What led you to Niagara College in the first place?
I was already accepted into the Foods & Nutrition program at Brescia University College; however, I was not sure if working in a lab and consulting people as a nutritionist was the right career for me. I learn better with a practical and a more direct approach. At Niagara College, the Culinary Innovation & Food Science Technology program has taught me not only how to process foods but also why I must do so.
Most memorable experience at NC?
My program has good, friendly, and approachable professors. They want to ensure that we are successful as students, and as professionals. They want us to truly understand the course materials instead of just memorizing for good marks.
Is there a particular mentor who influenced you?
Ana [Dr. Ana Cristina Vega-Lugo, scientific manager], my supervisor at R&I, was my mentor during the time I was working there. Her intelligence, wisdom, and her tactful ways of dealing with team members have earned my admiration. She always tries her best at what she does and that motivates me to become a leader like her.
What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?
In my humble opinion, communication is one of the most important skills either at school or at work. I always show that I am open to learning, ask questions when I do not understand and make sure people understand my message correctly. By ensuring everyone is on the same page, we would work, study and contribute to the shared success in a more efficient way.
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
Communication is very important and you have to always upgrade and improve yourself.
Proudest achievement since graduating?
Being interviewed for this article. This means all my efforts at school and R&I have been recognized. I really appreciated R&I for the opportunities and the experiences, and for providing the foundation for me to get my current position.
What are you passionate about at the moment?
The only thing I want to focus on right now is to learn as much as possible and perform well in my current position.
Interests outside of work?
I love cooking, baking and trying out new dishes and recipes. I would love to create, introduce and commercialize more products, and especially bring Vietnamese products to Canadian and North American consumers.
If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
Find your passion, follow your dreams, work hard and put all your efforts into it.
Anything else you want to say?
I hope our program would become a four-year bachelor degree program. I already miss my wonderful time at Niagara College. If possible, I would love to come back and get my degree at our College.