Cal Poly Pomona Baking “Rock Stars” Take First in National Baking Contest

Three Cal Poly Pomona students, majoring in food and nutrition science, have won a national baking competition.

Seniors Eric Kinjo (Torrance), Breanna Barragan (Chula Vista) and Steven Pham (Santa Ana) took first place in the American Society of Baking (ASB) annual Product Development Competition, Feb. 24-26, in Chicago.

In the final round, Cal Poly Pomona pitted against teams from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of Wisconsin, and Purdue University in a challenge that required them to create a new flatbread bakery food product.

The flatbread product could take the form of pizza, naan or tortillas, but had to be at least 15 percent of one or more of the “ancient grains” – spelt, Korasan wheat, freekeh, bulgur, farro, einkorn, emmet, millet, barley, teff, oats, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat or chia – based on flour weight.

The product had to have a shelf life of more than three weeks or at least six months for frozen products. Judges evaluated the product proposals on their potential success in today’s market. In addition, they judged the entries based on the problem-solving skills the teams used in product development.

The Cal Poly Pomona entry was “Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Flatbread.” The frozen product was filled with a cheese blend and had tomatoes baked into the bread, giving it the flavor of tomato soup and grilled cheese in every bite.

Each of the students received a $2,000 scholarship, and the team received a trophy for display on campus. The students will also receive full tuition to the AIB International Baking Science and Technology course, a 16-week residency program for bakers that includes hands-on lab work. The scholarship must be used before 2021.

The course teaches students combines science with baking tradition. Participants learn how key ingredients function and interact in baked products, what processes are critical to finished products, and good manufacturing and production practices, including food safety.

The ASB product development competition is intended to help bakery management and food technology students transition from college to the wholesale baking industry and spur product innovation in the wholesale baking industry.

The Cal Poly Pomona students developed their recipe during their Food Product Development class, where each group focused their efforts towards a regional or national competition, bringing a real world aspect to the course.

Cal Poly Pomona, one of just two polytechnic universities in California, is known for its hands-on learning philosophy.

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