Student food researcher develops new products and helps families eat healthy

Chef School student Hannah Gaum

Shortly after Hannah Gaum started the Bachelor of Commerce (Culinary Management) program she realized she wanted to work in a lab instead of a kitchen. 

She seized an opportunity to work at George Brown College’s Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt), and is collaborating with culinary technologists and food scientists to develop recipes and help businesses turn food and beverage product ideas into realities. 

“I realized that being able to contribute to the development of an innovative product, helping others fulfill a passion or overcome challenges, bringing something delicious to life, and having the autonomy to use my creativity are very important to me.” 

Now in the final year of the four-year program, Hannah has her sights set on a career in recipe development. Further down the line she wants to write her own recipe book and create a product line. 

Finding fulfillment in the food research lab 

In her first two years with FIRSt, Hannah worked to bring a range of projects to life, including recipes for families to improve nutrition and reduce food waste, milk-alternative beverages, and high-protein snacks. Right now, she’s working on recipe development for a plant-based cookbook. 

FIRSt Culinary Technologist Candace Rambert said Hannah’s inquisitive nature makes her a great asset in the lab. 

“Hannah asks so many questions, intellectual questions,” she said. “She is very well suited to this field.” 

Helping families eat healthy 

Hannah won the 2019 George Brown Research Student Innovation Award for her initial project with FIRSt — developing recipes to enhance nutrition and food literacy and reduce food waste for families, in partnership with the University of Guelph as part of the Guelph Family Health Study

Looking just beyond graduation, Hannah hopes to get a foot in the door with one of the large fresh meal-kit delivery companies as a recipe developer. Promoting simple and healthy eating for the greater community is also a goal. 

“I would like to continue to seek ways to contribute to the research and development of healthy eating habits for families,” she said. 

In the long term, she hopes to have her own business—watch out for a cookbook or health-conscious food product from Hannah in the future!