For Lindsey Kirchner, being a flavor expert has proven to be a savory profession. As a senior scientist at Kalsec, a worldwide spice and herb extraction company based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, since 2010, Ms. Kirchner works on internal and customer projects and “flavor matching.” She creatively builds specific flavors customers ask for that the company does not have. She also manufactures aroma solutions.
Ms. Kirchner credits her success to closely collaborating with numerous teams at Kalsec. Her career highlight was producing flavors for a Canadian customer’s product that ranked among the top two flavors in its market. Years before this and other achievements, she had not planned to work at the company — she just happened to live nearby in Kalamazoo. After earning a Bachelor of Science in biomedical sciences, with a minor in chemistry, in 2007 and a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and corrections in 2008, both from Western Michigan University, she was hired at Kalsec through the paprika breeding program and later performed sensory testing on food products, raw materials and beverages. Her growing curiosity caused her to want to learn more about product development and creating flavors.
Today, Ms. Kirchner specializes in a niche market of hops flavors. The bulk of products she has created have either been flavors that incorporated hops into them or hops varietal mimics. She takes a certain variety of hops used in the brewing industry and recreates them using extracts and other natural flavors.
Ms. Kirchner, who advises colleagues and all professionals always to persevere, wants to continue contributing exciting innovations to the food and beverage industry. Within five years, she plans to become a fully certified flavorist to advance beer or beer-related drinks. She wants to embrace more sustainable company and industry practices and expand product offerings using more creative flavor matches.
Ms. Kirchner’s expertise also is demonstrated as an apprentice flavorist with the Society of Flavor Chemists and as a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Society of Brewing Chemists. Ultimately, Ms. Kirchner wants to be remembered for the products that she developed. She hopes her products will reach global sales in their respective markets and have great longevity.