Baking & Snack - August 2020 - 100

featured technical expert

CORBION: STEVE BARNHART
The masters never stop learning. Maybe that's why Steve Barnhart has
been fascinated by food since he was a teenager. This fascination realized itself in 2007 when he earned certification from the Retail Bakers
Association as a Master Baker. Mr. Barnhart's educational journey
didn't end there. It continues every day, and that's how he likes it.
He studied culinary arts at Kendall College and took several
baking and pastry classes as part of the curriculum. The science of
baking appealed to him, and ever since, baking was his focus. Mr.
Barnhart said he had teachers who helped him understand the "why"
behind the baking process, which made all the difference. He then
took various jobs in retail bakeries, with a muffin and cookie manufacturer and a wholesale bread bakery, before joining the Corbion
team where he now serves as senior technical service representative.
In this role, Mr. Barnhart works with Corbion's R&D team to develop customized solutions for customers. He said the two-way learning
that happens with R&D is something he appreciates.
"We all learn from helping each other," he said. "Understanding the
entire baking process from my coworkers' points of view has let me
share in the incredible insights they've gained in their career experiences, and that is often more valuable than anything taught in a class."
While he broadens his knowledge daily, Mr. Barnhart has also taken
on the role of teacher. When working with customers, he gains their
trust by teaching them what they can do to improve their products.
"My goal with each bakery visit is to help the customer learn
something about their own process they didn't know before my
arrival," Mr. Barnhart explained.

100 Baking & Snack August 2020 / www.bakingbusiness.com

But that education process can be challenging. The solutions discovered in R&D labs don't always immediately translate to full-scale
manufacturing. That's where Mr. Barnhart's experience shines.
"My work history and time spent on the line help me understand
the kind of impact our ingredient solutions can make for customers," he said. "Often, when we are testing a new ingredient, we need to
take into consideration how the customer's machinery may be different from what's in our lab. Knowing this ahead of time helps us to get
closer to a favorable solution sooner."
Mr. Barnhart modifies formulas by providing feedback based on
field testing. Knowing customers' processes allows him to ensure that
the testing is done in comparable environments. He said it's very common to see a bakery experience quality issues, especially with spongeand-dough systems. One customer asked for assistance with bread
that was showing signs of blowout and excessive shred. The bakery
had already tried several different methods to fix the issue to no avail.
"When I monitored processes in the plant, I found that the sponges were coming out of the mixer at different temperatures, and no
one was checking and adjusting temperature as needed to be within
the desired range," he said.
So, after mixing the sponges for a few hours and getting them to
come out within the correct temperature range, the bakery began
to consistently produce the bread as it should have been. "It was
a simple fix, but it's often the simple things that get overlooked,"
he added.
The same goes for formulating challenges. He said the key is to un-


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Baking & Snack - August 2020

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