We are honored to recognize Tori Boomgaarden for June’s Females in Food Community Member Spotlight. An expert in dairy science and patent holding scientist, Tori has blazed a career path that is nothing short of inspiring. In this short Q&A Tori opens up about her journey, career accomplishments, and how she can help others in the industry succeed.
Q. Tell us about your current role.
A. I’m a Sr. Scientist in R&D for DFA Dairy Brands. I develop products for DFA’s fluid, cultured, and frozen business, supporting our brands and customers alike.
Q. How did you decide on a career in the food industry? What has your career path entailed?
A. I started at SDSU in Dairy Manufacturing and didn’t quite know what I was doing, but I saw an interesting mix of my interests and opportunities. During an internship at Ecolab, I discovered my love for R&D. This clarity drove me to get involved in all things product development, sensory, and going on to grad school. In 2010, I joined Kraft Foods in R&D in the Cheese & Dairy group, working on natural cheese and processed cheese innovation. While I loved my job, I wanted to be closer to family in Minnesota. I joined Kemps (recently DFA Dairy Brands) in R&D in 2014 and have enjoyed the breadth of different projects, customers, and products I’ve worked on. It’s made me nimbler and I’ve grown a really solid foundation of dairy knowledge as well as a chance to get creative. My first job in high school was scooping ice cream at the Sugar Shack, where I’d come up with new menu items for fun. Having the chance to develop ice cream and other dairy products for a living is full circle for me.
Q. What accomplishments are you the most proud of?
A. I’m proud of getting a patent on emulsifier-free process cheese relatively early in my career. It took a lot of hard work and tenacity and some really amazing co-workers along the way to make it happen.
I’m also proud of my involvement in various dairy contests and judging roles. I got super involved by coordinating the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest for for 2 years, which hosts around 15 colleges competing in dairy products evaluation in 6 categories, which expert judges for each. I’ve also been asked to judge in various contest, which is such an honor. My absolute favorite contest memory was winning 2nd runner up in the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest with a 640 of aged cheddar!
Q. What are your areas of expertise for Females in Food members to connect with you on?
A. I’m a total dairy nerd! My expertise is in upfront product development for fluid, cultured, and frozen dairy & non-dairy products, from identifying trends, to brainstorming and creating a product that fits a market need. I also have experience in sensory, scale-up, troubleshooting, working with co-packers, private label customers, and branded customers.
Q. What do you enjoy doing most in your free time?
A. Most of my free time revolves around my family – I love getting to see the world through kids’ eyes. I also enjoy live music, baking, getting outside, gardening, and have been trying out watercolor.
Q. What are your career goals in the next year?
A. Continue expanding my network through Females in Food, work on growth opportunities, and continue striving for work/life balance.