Visiting lecturer Karri Käki was manager of the winning team at the Culinary Olympics.
Last Friday, second and third year Laurea undergraduate students of Hospitality Management were treated to a visit from one of the world’s top professionals in their field. This visiting lecturer at the Leppävaara campus was no other than Karri Käki, Product Development Manager at Fazer Food Services.
In addition to product development work, Karri Käki also served as manager for Fazer Culinary Team Finland, which made history by winning gold in the Culinary Olympics catering series, which was held at the end of October. The Culinary Olympics, which were held this year in Erfurt in Germany, take place every four years and are the world’s largest competition for the food sector.
‘In product development, it’s important to stay rooted in customers’ everyday life’
The topic for Karri Käki’s lecture was product development. His presentation to the students included discussion of how product development is carried out in Fazer Food Services, which provides catering services in over a thousand restaurants across the Nordic region.
- For us, the product development process lasts at least one whole year. The process involves, among other things, many rounds of experimenting and testing both with professionals and consumer juries, he explained.
Fazer provides catering services for staff and student restaurants and also for large events and functions. This sets many preconditions for product development work related to matters such as the cost of a portion, packing and shelf life. At the same time, customers are not only interested in taste but also in health, ethics, and the source of the ingredients.
- When developing products, it’s also important to keep up with the trends. The important thing is to stay rooted in customers’ everyday lives and the way these change, Mr Käki emphasised.
Product development requires patience
- In my opinion, it is very important that product development is part of study programmes. It is a very significant thing if students understand what it requires and what an important role it has in a professional’s work, Mr Käki said as he described after the lecture the importance of product development for catering professionals.
In Mr Käki’s opinion, product development requires the ability to tolerate imperfection and incompleteness and to understand that product development takes a lot of time. At the same time, even an experienced professional encounters situations where one’s own skills reach their limits.
- If I had to choose one word to describe the characteristics required for product development work, that word would be patience, he summarised.
Karri Käki’s product development lecture was part of the Food and Drink Culture study unit for Laurea students of Tourism and Hospitality Management. During the study unit, students arrange a function where the clients Unilever Food Solutions and Nespresso can try out new taste experiences.