Lyndon Ashton – New Manager for CFWI Innovation Centre

Centre manager Lyndon Ashton is joined by newest members to the CFWI IC research team: Kelly Byer (l), lab technologist and senior food scientist Ana-Cristina Vega-Lugo (r) in the Food Quality Lab at the NOTL campus.

There’s a French culinary phrase: Mise en place. It means having all the ingredients prepared ahead of time, and all kitchen tools assembled, before ever putting pan to burner.  A literal translation is “put in place” and this organizational doctrine for chefs has been cleverly making its way beyond the kitchen and into the boardroom.

This mindset of coordinated self-discipline has well-served Lyndon Ashton – the new manager for NC’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre – seeing that he’s had his feet in both worlds of culinary arts and business.

After working in the hospitality industry for a decade (as a chef and restaurant manager) and earning his Culinary Red Seal, Lyndon changed gears, went back to school and received a combined degree in Political Sciences and Labour Studies from Brock University. This led to the economic development industry, management consulting and business planning.

Most recently, this Mise en place philosophy of meticulous focus for the task at hand was put to use for his post with MDB Insight, one of Canada’s largest specialist economic development consulting firms. There, his job demanded managing upwards of a dozen projects at once, which included intense competitive bidding and crafting corporate strategic plans for municipalities and regions.

Last fall, the College received a five-year federal government grant to create a Technology Access Centre (TAC) for the CFWI Innovation Centre and expand its role in helping local food and beverage innovators. The funding meant the Innovation Centre could ramp up its expert staffing, including a centre manager, senior food scientist and lab technologist, while increasing technical services in such areas as food safety plans, chemical testing, microbiological assays and content analysis.

In addition to Lyndon’s arrival to head the Centre, Kelly Byer, a dedicated lab technologist and Ana-Cristina Vega-Lugo, senior food scientist, have been hired. These experts will enable the research team to expand the scope of technical services the Centre can provide. One of those services – food safety – gets a spot at the head of the table, notes Lyndon.

“A lot of our folks are experts in food safety, which is an ever prominent and growing concern with the government as well as manufacturers. We’ll be able not only to help build talent pipelines for students into small- and medium-sized enterprises, but help these companies grow and expand their innovation footprints.

Back in NOTL, from the medieval music heard from his office and hand-painted (by him) miniature dragon on his desk, it’s not hard to conclude Lyndon is a Fantasy game and literature enthusiast and serious player of the role-playing tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons. For him, it’s the “action, intrigue, mystery and romance of the genre.”
Lyndon, his wife and daughter – all original Niagarans – live in Caledonia now, but he predicts it won’t be long before he heads back this way.

“Niagara is deep in my heart and at my core and a very strong part of my personal identity and I seem to keep coming back … it won’t be long before I’m a resident once again.”