Menus at Bob Evans restaurants are featuring a food item that Bowling Green native Sarah Herringshaw helped to develop.
The Ohio State University student worked on apple caramel sauce during an internship last summer at Total Ultimate Foods Inc. in Columbus. The company presented the sauce to Bob Evans restaurants, which made some refinements, then used it on the Roasted Caramel Apple Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes that is on a promotional menu at nearly 600 Bob Evans restaurants in 18 states, including Ohio and Michigan.
"It started out as a glaze," Ms. Herringshaw says of the sauce developed in the Total Ultimate Foods test kitchen. "[Bob Evans] said, 'We really like the sauce, but we have some other uses.'•" From there, Ms. Herringshaw and Tim Tomesek, vice president of research and development for Total Ultimate Foods, made it thicker for a syrup.
"Originally [Bob Evans] thought of mixing it with sliced apples and using it as a side dish," Mr. Tomesek says. "They took it up a notch and put the cream cheese filling in the middle."
Ms. Herringshaw, 22, began working on the assignment early in her internship, which was part of an annual scholarship that Total Ultimate Foods awards to a food-technology student. Ms. Herringshaw is a senior in OSU's department of food science and technology in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and has continued to work for Total Ultimate Foods part-time until she graduates in June.
Since working at Total Ultimate Foods, Ms. Herringshaw has been learning about ingredients and food evaluation.
"The client says, 'Here's what we want matched,' and these are the ingredients, and I evaluate it. There's a lot of trial and error in the process," she says. "All the ingredients that are stocked in the [Total Ultimate Foods] plant are also stocked in the lab, which is half kitchen."
She has been learning to train her palate to relate taste and flavor to other things. "It can take a while because sometimes the taste is out of context. I make sauces that go with other things such as pasta. When I taste the sauce alone, it can taste different than it does when paired with pasta, or on top of burgers or whatever it is used with."
Total Ultimate Foods primarily makes powder mixes that are reconstituted with water or milk, and dressing mixes that might be mixed with water and vinegar.
"We're a little niche company," Mr. Tomesek says. So when a product is accepted by a major food company, it has a big impact. He estimates that a case of the caramel sauce product has 12 bags, each of which can make 10 servings. "A specific amount of water is whisked into the [dry product]." With the caramel sauce sold in all units of Bob Evans, the order for 3,000 cases of product was more than significant.
The experience has given Ms. Herringshaw a taste for food technology. "It is a cool and unique major," she says. With plans to attend graduate school, she could specialize in food technology packaging, food engineering (the machinery to produce foods), microbiology, food safety, or even the enzymatic properties of food.
"But I want the overall approach so that I have a broader understanding," said Ms. Herringshaw, the daughter of Doris and Paul Herringshaw of Bowling Green. She also works on campus at the Food Industry Center, which assists people starting food companies.
When the Bowling Green High School graduate started college nearly four years ago, she was uniquely prepared for the food world. Her mother is the OSU extension educator for Wood County. "She had me cooking in the kitchen early on," said the daughter, who knew how to cook when she started college.
She remembers making cookies with her mother. "She taught me to measure different ingredients. I learned to pack brown sugar," she says.
Cookies are still a favorite thing to make. But when she comes home from school on weekends, "I like to make doughnuts with my grandma who lives down the road from us," she says. "It's a perfect two-person job: I mix the ingredients, roll the dough, and cut. She fries."
- Kathie Smith