Launching Tomorrow's Food Innovations: Food Science Graduate Elaine Li | Ontario Agricultural College

Launching Tomorrow's Food Innovations: Food Science Graduate Elaine Li

Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2024

Elaine Li cutting a pie in a kitchen

Working for High Liner and most recently Pizza Hut, OAC alumnus Elaine Li, (BSc Food Science ’17) has merged her love of culinary arts, photography and food science to innovate new food products for everyday Canadians. In this Q&A, Li explores her career journey, and credits the U of G program for equipping her with the technical knowledge, networking opportunities, and communication skills crucial for success in the dynamic food industry. Her story serves as a testament to the endless possibilities within the world of food, from product development to entrepreneurship and beyond.

Read more about Elaine's experience in OAC's Food Science major in this Q&A.

Name: Elaine Li
Program: BSc Food Science
Graduation year: 2017
Hometown: Guangzhou, China

Why did you choose the U of G Food Science program?

I'm an all-around "foodie". I love all things about food - cooking, trying new restaurants, food photography, and geeking out on the science behind the food that we see and eat everyday. Prior to U of G I attended Fanshawe College for Food and Nutrition which was in part a Chef Training program as well.

Elaine Li holding a box of Fish Wings that she developed.

Where are you working right now?

I started my career at High Liner Foods where I developed and commercialized innovative frozen seafood products that help consumers gain confidence in the kitchen. I helped launch products like “fish wings” and “haddie bites.” These innovative products encouraged people to eat more seafood by trying something that’s familiar to them - chicken wings and chicken nuggets. 

Fast forward 7 years later, I moved on to Pizza Hut Canada for an exciting new opportunity that helps me understand the food business at a broader level. I’m still quite new in the Pizza Hut world, but we have lots of interesting and exciting food innovations about to launch in the next few months!

I also have a food photography gig where I help restaurants in the Orangeville / Caledon area elevate their brands through “drool-worthy” food photos. My food photography and styling skills are also helpful in my role at Pizza Hut as a food product developer, as I’m constantly working with advertising agencies to promote the food I developed.

What was the most memorable experience you had at U of G?

With a few of my classmates, I participated in the Research Chefs Association student Culinology (the blending of culinary arts and the science of food) Pastry Competition in Puerto Rico where we won gold! We had tremendous support from OAC’s Food Science faculties, students, and industry professionals (who are also alumni from the program). The OAC also provided us with a bursary that helped us offset some travel fees for the competition. It was an incredible experience for me as it was my first time developing a food product. 

How did the UofG program help you succeed in your career? 

The Food Science program gave me technical know-how, and skills in new food product development. The networking and communication skills I developed at U of G have also been valuable. Since the food industry is very small, you may very well work with (or for) someone you went to school with. The food industry is very dynamic with many different opportunities to explore including food safety, quality assurance, product development, culinary arts, regulatory, marketing, sales, project management, business entrepreneurship – the opportunities are endless. 

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