January 05, 2016
Chocology is proud to present another article by Meaghan Sugrue, which will be her last one from France. She'll be heading back to the states soon. We appreciate the articles that Meaghan has contributed. Thank you Meaghan for keeping us up to date on all that you have learned while studying in France!
Hello Chocology Today readers! I hope everyone had a happy, relaxing and chocolate-filled holiday break and is looking forward to all that 2016 brings.
This past week I was in Athens, Greece spending the holiday with a friend in my program. During her Christmas dinner, I met my friend’s cousin, a chocolate specialist at a a major Greek biscuit company. After the dinner was over and guests lingered, swapping stories and resisting goodbyes, I spoke to my friends cousin about her career, experience in food science and advice for the future.
From the first question, it was evident that she is very passionate about chocolate and commits herself to her job. She is a Research and Development (R&D) scientist who mentions working overtime to complete projects before deadlines with determination rather than frustration. When I asked her how a new biscuit is produced for a market, she explained that the concept is initially devised from a marketing team. Her department evaluates this concept so it can be produced using available ingredients within a budget. From there they meet quality assurance and regulation specialists to finalize the product design before bringing concept to completion. As an aspiring R&D scientist, this description allowed me to realize how team-based creating a new product is and how vitally important a semester spent working on group projects is to my future. She than explained how being a chocolate specialist is unique in Greece, a country with year round hot temperatures, where chocolate is a winter delicacy, not a dessert standard. Next she revealed her pet-project, a limited edition box of chocolate covered biscuits released at the holidays for a select few recipients to commemorate the company’s 100th year anniversary. Everything about this product was meticulously designed. The art on the front of the box depicted six bulbs, each representing a different type of chocolate cookie in the box, all in honor of the year 2016. When we sampled the cookies, each containing a different cream filling with a color that matched the outside piping of the cookie, all of the scientist spoken enthusiasm became edible.
As I reflect on my semester, I think of when I left Long Island this August. Then I did not know that I would travel to eight different countries, that I would speak an unfamiliar language every day in the spotlight of world events. Most of all I didn’t know that I would be the only American in my program, and that I’d find a family here. A kind and compelling family of people who push me out of my comfort zone every day, giving me a newfound sense of confidence and capability. However, after sampling limited edition chocolate surrounded by a Greek family who made me feel just as included as any relative, I realize, like the chocolate cookies, my semester has been an entirely unique, a limited time meant to be enjoyed with company.