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DAA: Mark Kimmel

Mark Kimmel

Mark Kimmel


Modesto, CA


Combine basic ingredients: a core curriculum focused on biology, food chemistry theory, and hands-on learning. Add experience in quality control, food production, research/development, and sales. Season with a refined palate and heightened olfactory skills. Mix well. Next, savor success. Each step of Mark Kimmel’s career models a “no-fail” method for mastery. Whether sampling red pepper-infused tomato sauce with an Italian restaurant chef or assessing quality control throughout a twelve-hour production shift, food safety ranks “job one.” “At the end of the day, I know I’ve made some good tomato products,” says Kimmel. “I’d eat them myself and serve them to my family, and that makes me feel good about what I do.” It might seem a surprising journey for an animal sciences major. Purdue Agriculture did not have a food science department during Kimmel’s tenure, but the animal science core curriculum gave him the tools he needed to leap into the food industry — it has been a tasty ride. Kimmel’s responsibilities at Stanislaus Food Products, an independent, familyowned company that specializes in Italian tomato products for restaurants throughout North America, encompass production, purchasing, quality control, research/ development, and sales. During his tenure, the company expanded from 600 employees to 2,000; efficiency increased by 30 percent; and capacity doubled. He is responsible for sales volume increases to multi-unit restaurant customers including Olive Garden restaurants and the Papa John’s Pizza chain. While he “wows” the big names, another appreciative audience rests under his own roof – his wife, Sharron, and daughters Christina, 23, and Lauren, 14. “I cook Italian at least once a week at home,” says Kimmel, who also practices diligently in the Stanislaus test kitchens. “I can whip up some pretty upscale, chef-requested sauces.” “Through the animal sciences program’s core curriculum, I gained a wealth of knowledge about food engineering, dairy, and horticulture. Professors — all experts in their fields — taught me to take basic theories and keep asking questions.”