Meet Dawn Foods’ new Senior Application Chef, Melissa Trimmer! With more than 20 years of experience in pastry, Chef Trimmer will work hand-in-hand with Dawn team members and customers at the company’s Innovation Studio in Jackson, MI to drive creative new offerings informed by the latest trends and consumer insights – including new premium product platforms for cakes and donuts. She is responsible for creating innovative recipes and supporting photo- shoots for Dawn’s quarterly inspiration guides, Batter Up magazine, and new product launches. Each year, Chef Trimmer will also play a large role in welcoming Dawn’s Sweetest Bakery in America contest winners to the Innovation Studio.
Chef Trimmer received her Associate in Applied Science in Baking & Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales University and trained in classical cuisine in Lucerne, Switzerland. She is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Throughout her career, Chef Trimmer has achieved several accolades, including:
• ACF Women’s Task Force Chair and the ACF Presidential “Cutting Edge” Award (2015)
• World Association of Chef Societies World Chef’s Pastry Chef (2017, France)
Recently, Chef Trimmer sat down with our team to tell us more about herself and her vision for Dawn and the Innovation Studio.
What attracted you to Dawn?
There’s a personal side and a professional side to why I came to Dawn. On the personal side, my husband and I grew up in Michigan, and it still feels like home to us despite living in Chicago the past 15 years. So far, we’ve raised our kids away from extended family, so we couldn’t be happier to be surrounded by our loved ones.
On the professional side, I was looking for a pastry specific company and one that has long-term growth potential with a bright future ahead. There are companies that come and go, but there are very few that stay consistent. Dawn’s reputation in the baking industry speaks for itself – and it’s important that the team is looking to its future and putting the right people and resources in place to be successful for years to come.
What is Dawn’s greatest asset?
I believe it’s two-fold: one is the fact that we have this great heritage product. We’ve been delivering a quality product for nearly 100 years. People know and trust our product because of the consistency we’ve delivered. The second part is that we are truly experimenting with innovation right now, whether it’s with our products themselves or the way we help our customers. I feel like the marriage of the old and the new is done in the best way possible and makes me extremely optimistic about the future of our company.
What is your long-term vision for the Innovation Studio?
The Innovation Studio has so much happening within it! Whether it’s sharing marketing and research insights with our customers, developing new recipes, or the experimenting in the R&D area, there is a large variety of tasks customers can do while visiting. I can’t wait to be a part of these exciting initiatives and help advance the day-to-day operations to ensure they move seamlessly and allow our customers to have the best experience possible. My goal? Work to get our customers into the Studio on a steady schedule. Our studio offers a one-stop shop for our customers and by working together, we can partner on innovative solutions that continue to delight consumers each and every day.
Additionally, I’m eager to explore our Clean Label products further. I worked in farm-to-table restaurants for years and love finding ways to help people eat cleaner while making creative products that taste delicious. By focusing on expanding our better-for-you offerings, we’ll be able to help our customers who may not have the resources or time to make these products from scratch.
Tell us about a past experience that has shaped who you are as a chef. What will you bring from this experience to Dawn?
After finishing culinary school, I went through the European apprentice program as my externship. I worked for a bakery in a small town in Switzerland at the foot of the Alps, right next to Lake Lucerne. I started my career in baking during a time before the Food Network was big, so not only was I an American studying abroad, but I was also a woman. At that time, it was rare to see a woman in the kitchen in America, let alone in Europe. I believe there are two things that can happen to you when you’re put in a situation like this: you can let it break you and be done, or you get better, faster and stronger and rise above it all. It was extremely difficult, and I could’ve chosen to quit, but I chose the second option and looked to the future. This experience has given me an extra sensitivity towards shift work and in return, I have a great respect for other people’s time and space, which the baking industry is not known for. As a long time family business, Dawn shares this value with me. We truly inspire bakery success every day.
What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?
My husband and I are both chefs and have worked in hospitality for most of our careers, so we both love to travel and eat! In fact, we plan our trips around what food we want to experience and which restaurants to dine. Exploring Michelin Star restaurants around the world is a passion of mine and I absolutely love it. At home, we are avid gardeners and love to support our two children in their passions.
If interested in booking a visit at the Innovation Studio and working hand-in-hand with Melissa, please contact your local sales representative. For more on our Innovation Studio, click here.
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