Future of Foodservice Student Spotlight: Andrew Gusmano

Posted by IFMA August 04, 2014

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Univ Of Illinois - Andrew Gusmano (2)

Andrew Gusmano is a 2013 IFMA International Gold & Silver Plate Society internship stipend recipient. He attends University of Illinois and is majoring in Food Science. Find out what he had to say when we asked him a few questions about his foodservice stipend and future career.

What is your major & what made you decide on it?
I decided to pursue a food science degree for a few reasons. The first is a love of cooking and world cuisine. Food production will never become obsolete, but the main reason I study food science is how food makes people feel. Food is an emotional experience. I can recall eating breakfast cereal with my brother, cooking with my grandparents, eating Halloween candy. The food industry, unlike many industries, provides a product that makes people happy, gathers people together and adapts to changing consumer needs.

How has your stipend enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
One of the main obstacles to pursuing a professional career in food service is financial. The rising cost of college is not lost on me. The money I earned since I was a teenager along with the generosity of IFMA and other scholarships I have earned help me to fund a college education. I can only imagine the price of college when the next generation of college students ready themselves for university life.

What was your first job in foodservice?
I began working in food service shortly before my 15th birthday, in a little corner coffee shop owned by a family friend. I worked there for a year until it closed, I then moved to the local Dunkin' Donuts store with the experience from my first job. Overall I had worked in food service for nearly three years before I headed to school at the University of Illinois.

What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
My dream job would be in a leadership or management position within a food production facility. My dream job would be challenging and never ordinary. I am very interested in the production side of the food industry as well as the quality assurance area of the food industry.

My dream job would be in a leadership or management position within a food production facility.

Do you have a mentor?  How have they helped you?
John Reynolds, a QA manager within Topco Associates, LLC., is has probably been the biggest influence on me in regards to my career and academic path. I consider John as a mentor for a number of reasons. He is very knowledge regarding the food industry. Before working for Topco, he has worked in various food industry positions. He encouraged me to experience different positions with the food industry to get a feel for what I enjoy. During my internship experience, he drew on an industry contact in the ice cream manufacturing industry to solicit a factory tour. Overall, John was available for advise, recommendations, and suggestions and will be a lifelong friend.

What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
Challenges to the food service professionals of tomorrow include rising food allergens, food safety, financial considerations, and adaptation to the changes in consumer trends. Consumers' needs are changing. A desire for more organic, natural, wholesome products puts pressure on new food service professionals to follow the trends and adapt to the consumer. That being said, consumers are also looking for affordable food that is also nutritional rich. Another major challenge is food safety. It seems that you only hear about food service institutions when an outbreak of E. coli or salmonella is found in a product. Such negative press only damages the reputation of food service companies. Last, along with consumer desires, new food sensitivities and allergies offers a challenge and stress on new professionals to create products not only free from allergens but as well as protected from cross-contamination.

Univ Of Illinois - Andrew Gusmano (1)What have you learned that you will apply to your career?
My internship experience this past summer has greatly added to my knowledge that I can apply to a career in food service. I worked as a quality assurance intern for Topco Associates, LLC. I was assigned to two projects. The first involved maintenance of product specifications for the barbecue sauce, frozen pizza, and frozen potato categories. Maintenance of said specifications ensured consistency and quality among the productions produced. That was a skill I learned from my tenure at Dunkin' Donuts as a teenager. The objective of our store was to ensure consistency of our products that was maintained through training, which I was heavily involved with orchestrating. The second project from my Topco internship was creation of a food safety and safe food handling manual for use in the Topco QA facilities. I drew upon my food service experience as well as my education to produce a safe food manual focusing on safe food temperatures while heating products, storing products, cross-contamination protection, and food allergen considerations.

What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is the Eggplant Parmesan from Ciao Baby, a local Italian restaurant in my hometown. The dish is always perfect. It consists of a fried eggplant filet that is cooked just right, not rubbery. The pasta is fresh as well, topped with a tomato sauce, finished with Parmesan cheese.

About The IFMA Educational Foundation

The IFMA Educational Foundation promotes the next generation of foodservice leaders. The Foundation is committed to give qualified culinary, marketing or food science students support toward completion of education requirements. Over the years, we've accomplished our goal by providing scholarships, publications, educational programs, internships and stipends to accredited institutions and individuals enrolled in accredited institutions.

Do you want to support the next generation of foodservice by making a donation to IFMA's Educational Foundation?   Contact us at ifma@ifmaworld.com.

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