Audra Stoncius is a 2019 graduate of the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. She worked with the Food & Beverage Innovation Centre (FBIC) as a Research Assistant between 2018 and 2019. She now works at Bench Brewing Company as the Lab Manager. In this role, Audra is responsible for ensuring that proper testing is done on the products and that the products meet company standards.
Tell us about where you work.
Bench Brewing Company is a Belgian-inspired farmhouse brewery. The brewery is situated in the Town of Lincoln. At Bench Brewing, we create beer that embraces old-world brewing techniques. Since we are in a region rich with agriculture, we embrace using the local ingredients, and even grow our own hops right by the brewery, by the brewers.
What year did you graduate and what program?
I graduated in 2019 from Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program.
What led you to want to go to Niagara College in the first place?
I decided to attend Niagara College as they had programs in culinary, wine, and beer. I knew I wanted to work in the beverage industry, and it just seemed like the right fit. Once I did some research on their programs, I found that the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program seemed to be the right for me with a mix of both science and food.
When did you work with Research & Innovation? Years and what was your role?
I worked with Research & Innovation (R&I) from January to April 2018, and then again from September 2018 to April 2019. I worked as a Research Assistant for the Food & Beverage Innovation Centre (FBIC).
Describe your current job and what you like about it.
As a Lab Manager, I am responsible for ensuring that proper testing is done on the products and that the products meet company standards. This begins when the wort reaches the fermenters and continues all the way through to the packaged products. I like that I can apply all my science knowledge and use it every day. I learn so much every day because one day is never the same as the next.
How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?
My experience working with R&I has given me a broader knowledge on different aspects of innovation but also taught me to make certain that these products are safe to consume and that they follow government regulations.
“My experience working with R&I has given me a broader knowledge on different aspects of innovation but also taught me to make certain that these products are safe to consume and that they follow government regulations.”
A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
There were so many projects, but my favourite and I think the most challenging one was working on the Sobrii project. This was a product that had the flavour of gin, but it did not contain alcohol. Unfortunately, I graduated and did not get to see the project to the end [the product is fully commercialized now], but it was one through which I learned a lot about different aspects of the beverage industry.
What advice would you give to a current student?
Don’t be scared to try something different and out of your comfort zone. You never know if you like it or not until you try it. When I was at Niagara College, I tried new things and that is one thing that I am happy I did during my time at NC.
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
Being in the workforce, I have learned that there will be good days and there will be bad days. I try to enjoy the good days and during the bad days remind myself that it will get better. I know this happens in everyday life but when working you will learn to adapt better to the bad days.
What do you do in your personal time?
In my personal time, I like to be out in nature. You would find me either hiking, camping, or on the beach enjoying some rays of sunshine and maybe carrying out some research for work with a nice cold beverage.
Proudest achievement since graduating?
My proudest achievement is becoming the Lab Manager at Bench Brewing.
If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
Just keep smiling and laughing.