Food and Product Development Leads Herrera to Food and Culinary Sciences Concentration
Food and culinary sciences student Sergio Herrera (center) spoke to culinary students at Bentonville West High School about how food, science, chemistry, sensory and safety all come together in the food industry.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Like many students, Sergio Herrera had an idea of what he wanted to study when he went to college, but he wasn't aware of the many options and potential careers.
A first-generation student whose parents are immigrants from El Salvador, Sergio grew up in Springdale and has always been interested in food and culinary arts. Following different experiences, he decided being a chef in a restaurant wasn't his ultimate goal. After graduating in 2017 from Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, a division of NorthWest Arkansas Community College providing culinary arts training, he is focused on working for a large corporation, and possibly traveling around the world, learning about food trends and production.
"My love of food science became clear when I learned how a food scientist can blend and tag team with culinary arts to make a wonderful consumer-friendly food product," said Herrera.
That realization led him to the Department of Food Science in U of A's Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. Food Science offers a food and culinary sciences concentration, which combines food science and culinary arts. The four-year program provides students with a food science degree that includes 21 hours of hands-on culinary arts classes provided through a partnership with NWACC. The culinary classes are held at Brightwater.
Is the program challenging? "Absolutely," said Herrera. "But I love it."
He currently has an internship at Tyson Foods as a poultry category culinary trainee. He's so excited about the program and his future, when he's not at Tyson or in class, he speaks to high school students about food science careers.
Herrera recently visited the class of Audra Weeks, a culinary instructor in career and technical education at Bentonville West High School where he shared with students how science, such as chemistry, food safety and food sensory, are all essential in creating a desirable food product. He also showed students how to select visually pleasing ingredients to create an appealing presentation for consumers.
When he finishes the program, Herrera will be eligible after continued training to become a certified research chef or a certified culinary scientist through the Research Chef's Association.
About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
Robby Edwards, director of communications
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
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