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Inspiration in Our Flavor Kitchen: The Personal Story of Chef Ngoc Trinh

By: Ngoc Trinh
Research & Development Chef, Frito-Lay

Aug 29, 2017

My name is Ngoc Trinh and I’m a chef in Frito-Lay’s Flavor Kitchen. I started my career on a very different path, but truth be told, I think I always knew I’d end up working with food and promoting improved nutrition. In the beginning, I studied medicine and worked in health clinics. Helping people is a passion for me, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve also had an abiding love for the culinary arts.

This love of food and a desire to translate the culinary experience into lasting memories led me to culinary school.  There, I eventually became a certified pastry chef and went on to work for several renowned chefs, and even for a national retailer’s commissary.

While I was in culinary school I discovered that I had Celiac disease, which is a serious autoimmune disorder triggered by eating foods with gluten in them. This raised a new awareness in me that I needed to be more in tune with my body, and it also made me realize that others shared similar challenges. It launched me on a journey to create foods that are more mindful about people and their overall health.

When I had the opportunity to join PepsiCo, I jumped at it because it gave me the chance to bring my commitment to nutrition and a consumer-centric mindset to a global food business. Today I work in the Frito-Lay Flavor Kitchen as a culinary baking expert. I’ve gone from serving 300 people at a time to serving 300 million.

My colleagues and I are constantly creating seasonal recipes that utilize our ingredients in fun, flavorful and inventive ways. And I always keep our consumers in mind, because like me, everyone has unique tastes and needs. I’m constantly aware of what specific ingredients we are using, where they come from, and how they might affect different people.

One of the more interesting side effects of my Celiac disease is that it has heightened my senses in a way that might not have happened otherwise. I can’t eat many of the ingredients we work with, so now when I touch a dough, I can sense the type of grain it’s made from and how it was milled. I can even feel how strong the protein is in wheat flour just by touching it, seeing the way it hydrates, seeing the way it bakes up. It gives me a deeper appreciation for these ingredients and how they interact.

We never take our snacks for granted in the Flavor Kitchen. Everything we do starts with real food and is geared toward real consumer experiences.We are constantly keeping a watchful eye on what consumers want, so we can meet their expectations. And my personal mission is to make sure we really understand their unique needs and have them feel like we’re making snacks just for them. That’s pretty much why I’m here and why I love my job.


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