Written by Claudia Wong
My time at Terramino was quite a journey that I am extremely blessed to have gone through. I was able to take a peek at a startup company that was started by UC Berkeley alumni and how their process of starting a company as long as their hiring component took place. When I joined Terramino, their company was still relatively new just as their were moving from a collaborative space with other companies to their own space in San Leandro. I was excited to be there as they were beginning their journey on their own and I was more than willing to help with anything they needed.
It is clear that in order to begin a company like this, you have to not only be extremely knowledgeable in food science but also you have to have a deep passion for changing the food system for the better, which is exactly what I saw in Kim and Josh, the CEO and the CFO, respectively. They both were able to express their passion to me when they taught me how to prototype my own plant-based salmon flavor and texture. I have grown up with a family that loves food and uses food to show how much we care for one another. To be able to intern at a company that focuses specifically on making food better for the world made me realize that as a human race, we are all here as a family and what my family made me realize is that food is a way of showing how much you care; to be an intern at Terramino allowed me to help produce a product that shows the world how much we care.
I realized over time that there is so much that needs to be done to arrive at the final product for a company striving to re-imagine a protein source that is better for the environment. There is constant emailing to flavor and texture companies to see what type of products they produce that we can potentially incorporate into ours. Once those samples come in, tests need to be done to see how well they perform and if it goes towards what we are working for. Most of my time at Terramino was either in front of a computer screen, compiling companies, or in the kitchen, testing products and making my own prototype for salmon. I loved being in the kitchen simply because I love cooking and when given the opportunity to literally be making my own food straight from scratch, I was excited.
So many things had to be tested, ranging from flavor powders, gum binders, and different vegetable proteins in order to find what we had in mind. Even with multiple products to use, it was still hard to make exactly what we were striving for, which is an identical substitute to the food item we were making, and at the time, I was focusing on salmon. Once making my own prototype, I realized that with the society like ours, people are not open to change and that it is hard to introduce something that people are not used to. That is the main challenge that companies in the food science realm face today; it is hard to make an exact substitute using plant-based products. The salmon prototype I made, looking back right now, actually did not at all taste like salmon but instead just like a really oily fish; I spend days making that and it still was not how I wanted. Companies like these spend days on end working towards their goal and having to scrap projects each time if it is not what their looking for.
Terramino, by the time my internship was over, had perfected their prototype salmon. It is companies like these that give hope to us that understand the consequences occurring in the food world; that our fisheries are depleting and that cows are doing my harm than good to our environment. The food science world has been steadily growing and the improvements they have been making and the products that are changing the world give me hope for the future. We are able to see, even now, that are food web needs to change and our sources of food are no longer going to be the same but instead could come from companies like Terramino that are striving to change the food systems for the better.
I am beyond blessed for the opportunity to intern at a brilliant company like Terramino and the knowledge I have taken from there will push me forward into the classes I take next regarding our food systems. My mindset on how food science is changing the world is greater strengthened and I am excited to share that with the rest of the world.