Applied Food Science Students Get Creative with Smoked Fish Challenge

Product Research & Development students in JWU Charlotte’s Applied Food Science program were put through their creative paces recently by Acme Smoked Fish, a Brooklyn-based company with a facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. The challenge? To create marketable, delicious food products using byproduct (excess trim from the fish that’s generated during the smoking process).

“Our students combined creativity and the science of food with this project,” noted Professor Robert Lothrop, who oversees the Applied Food Science program. “A project we may find one day in our local grocery stores!”

The 9 student teams spent weeks tweaking and refining their recipes, coming up with unique and creative uses for the excess trim.

“Trial and error is, surprisingly, the fun part of R&D.”

Jordan working on developing his smoked fish concept.As the students researched their recipes, they gained a stronger appreciation how the work of food scientists (including their own) can lead to the development of new food products, a safer food chain, breakthroughs in nutrition and innovative methods for feeding global populations. “Without an understanding of food science, we could kill someone,” Nancy Bryant, one of Acme’s senior product development managers, noted when she and her team visited students in person prior to the project’s kickoff.

In late April, a 3-person Acme team arrived to judge the results, taking into account how technically challenging and innovative the recipes were, as well as their potential uses in the consumer market.

Hailey Myles '21 and Micah Talbert '21 earned first place with their Smoked Salmon Sausage. “The requirements were to make a product with at least 15% of Acme Smoked Salmon and a clean ingredient line, meaning no artificial ingredients, flavors or added preservatives,” Talbert said. “Our final formula resulted in using 52% of Acme salon trimmings, limiting sodium content, along with fat, and proving a clean label. We faced many trials and tribulations throughout the term, some including different casing options, improving the overall appearance of the sausage, along with making the product shelf stable.”

Chris Bledsoe '21 took third place for his Smoked Salmon Bar. “I’d say that my experience with the Acme project was a great taste of how working for a company might be like in the future,” he explained. “We were given a specific product spec to follow, as well as what was expected of the project results. I enjoyed being able to have the creativity to make a product from scratch that matched the specifications that they requested. Trial and error is, surprisingly, the fun part of R&D. I’m glad that Acme gave me the opportunity to practice my degree and put everything I learned to use. It really affirmed me choosing this degree and path.” (You can read more about Bledsoe here.)

“This hands-on project was an opportunity for students to put their education to the test as they have been studying the nature of foods, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public,” said Lothrop. And the sky’s the limit for job opportunities in the food science field.”

List of contest recipes:

  • Salmon Sausage: 1st place (Hailey Myles '21 and Micah Talbert '21)
  • Everything Bagel Salmon Rangoon: 2nd place (Emilize Momplaisir '21 and Saul Iris '21)
  • Smoked Salmon Bar: 3rd place (Chris Bledsoe '21)
  • Mango Pineapple Salmon Burger
  • Salmon Rangoon with Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Salmon Bisque
  • Poppable Salmon Bites
  • Salmon Fish Patty
  • Salmon and Potato Croquettes




Charlotte Acme Smoked Fish tasting session