Today on Foodie Friday, meet Taylor Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN. He’s the principal consultant and owner of the Think Healthy Group and a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, George Mason University. He’s a regular guest on the Dr. Oz Show and other media outlets dispelling myths about food science and discussing what's good about the food we eat.
What is your role in the food industry?
My role is a researcher, policy expert and communicator. I am currently the principal and CEO of Think Healthy Group, Inc. and a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University.
How did you first get involved in the food industry?
Very simple. I was the Institute of Food Technologist Student Association (IFTSA) president as an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky. That opened the door to an amazing industry full of opportunity and wonderful people!
What/who inspired your current role in the food industry?
I’ve always had in my mind that one day my role would be CEO of a public health organization. After achieving the equivalent of the chief scientist role at the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) I learned it wasn’t all “glitz and glamour” as I had imagined. To be honest…I started my own company as a place-holder. It turned into a dream come true.
What is the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the food industry?
I think it’s really fascinating to see how the millennials are very rapidly changing the food industry. The typical “we have always done it this way,” just doesn’t work anymore for a number of reasons, one being communication technologies. The recent decline in grocery shopping reported by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is a perfect example. It will be interesting to see which companies and groups adapt to change vs. die fighting it.
Tell us about an industry professional who influenced you most?
Sheri Schellhaass, former Senior Vice President at General Mills and President of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) was my first mentor and played a very instrumental role in my professional development early on. She is a very strong, strategic and dynamic individual with a personality similar to mine. She taught me how to harness my “high-energy” and package it into a long-term vision with success metrics that others would subscribe to…
What's your big splurge food item? Any particular brand you're willing to pay more for?
What keeps you going as a food professional?
I really believe in and love the field of food science and nutrition. This field has the potential to change the world. We also have some truly amazing people in this field. It’s really awesome when you work with people who constantly motivate and inspire you to push the boundaries.
What do you view as your greatest achievement to-date as a food professional?
Starting my own business. I’m really proud that I went outside of my own comfort zone to do work that I truly believe in, scientifically. Think Healthy Group has taken me places that I would have never imagined, like the Dr. Oz Show (I know… yikes) that has given me a national platform. I would have never imagined how fun and successful this 3-year journey has been. There’s something new and exciting every day.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
Chicken stir-fry. It’s simple, easy to make and full of flavor. I have a wonderful recipe for it in my cookbook, “Sizzling Science” that will publish on Amazon this fall.
Name the food/ingredient you can’t live without.
That’s easy. Oreo ice cream!
Who in the food industry do you most admire?
Connie Weaver at Purdue University. She is hands-down the most brilliant nutrition scientist and one of the loveliest individuals that I’ve ever encountered. Her ambition, success and friendship really drives me on a daily basis.
Tell us about your favorite vacation destination.
I really love Tulum, Mexico. The beach is just absolutely gorgeous, and the local restaurants are some of the best in the world. Not to mention the homemade pina coladas and margaritas!
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