Robert B. Gravani is Professor Emeritus of Food Science at Cornell University where he has been actively engaged in Extension/Outreach, Teaching and Research activities. Bob has worked with all sectors of the food system and developed innovative programs for constituents in production agriculture, food processing, food retailing, and food service, as well as for regulatory agencies and consumers. He is Past President, Past Treasurer and Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and was the 2014 recipient of IFT’s Calvert Willey Distinguished Service Award. Bob is also a Past President of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) and a Fellow of the association. Through his 40-year academic career, he has educated generations of food scientists at the university and reached thousands of food industry professionals through distance education courses, workshops and symposia that he has organized and conducted. Bob has been recognized for his accomplishments by receiving several Cornell teaching and Extension/Outreach awards.
Food-buying professionals need the knowledge and skills to be leaders in the fast-growing specialty food industry. Specialty foods are at the cutting edge of innovation, product quality, and distinction. Buyers must have a keen understanding and appreciation for all aspects of the food system: sourcing new products and ingredients in the supply chain, developing strategic partnerships with suppliers and distributors, and successfully merchandising foods to meet the expectations of today's consumers.
Buyers play a vital role in assuring that specialty foods find their way into the marketplace. Buyers use a toolbox of leadership skills to discover new products, evaluate desirability, confirm financial viability, source sustainably, and manage inventory and merchandising to assure customer satisfaction with the product mix that ends up on the shelf.
This program will enable buyers to better understand and develop an appreciation for the key principles and best practices associated with supply chain management, strategic partnerships, strategic sourcing, product success in the marketplace, and opportunities in the food industry.
Through self-guided coursework and completion of practical long-form exercises, knowledge checks, and tests, you will gain the knowledge and skills required to be a well-informed and successful buyer of specialty foods.
Please note that enrollments for this program have been paused. This program will be retiring and no longer supported through this site. For more information, please contact Gretchen VanEsselstyn with the Specialty Food Association, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key Course Takeaways
- Become acquainted with the principles and best practices for purchasing and merchandising specialty foods
- Learn about industry trends, vendor relations, and product-sourcing strategies
- Understand the importance and premiere value that specialty foods bring to the marketplace
- Acquire the training necessary as a specialty food buyer to help your distributor community accomplish their business objectives
How It Works
Andrew Tausz was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. After graduating from Stony Brook University with a B.A. in both English and Italian Literature, Andrew worked in a management role in an entrepreneurial restaurant start-up in Williamsburg, Virginia and as a sauté chef in Baltimore, Maryland. Realizing the potential for minimizing food and water waste in the food industry, he was encouraged to enroll in integrated science classes at the University of the District of Columbia. These experiences later inspired Andrew to pursue a Master’s degree in Food Science from Cornell University. Andrew continues to pursue waste minimization in various sectors of the food industry through effective policy writing and purchasing. His future aspirations include influencing the food industry through consumer education. Andrew is a passionate cook and nature enthusiast in his personal life.
Michele Lefebvre holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta and a Master of Management in Hospitality from The Hotel School at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. Shortly after graduating, Ms. Lefebvre started her first company, a personal chef and nutrition counseling company. Cooking meals for families gave her expertise in food allergies and ingredient substitutions. She served as the Food Allergy Specialist at Cornell University Campus Dining for ten years, where she worked one-on-one with students with food allergies and food intolerances.
In her tenure at Cornell, Ms. Lefebvre developed several campus-wide food allergy policies and procedures, including establishing point-of-sale allergen labeling for all foods served across campus. She led other initiatives such as requiring all outside catering companies to follow allergen labeling protocols, established allergy-friendly food stations, and initiated food allergy training for all foodservice staff. More recently, she facilitated the launch of a certified “Free From” dining hall, the first of its kind in the United States. Ms. Lefebvre frequently consults with manufacturing and distribution companies to establish standards in ingredients, allergens, and best practices. In 2018, Ms. Lefebvre was awarded Best Overall Food Allergy Program Manager for Universities by AllerTrain.
Julie Stafford has been a faculty member of the Department of Food Science and the Cornell Institute for Food Systems (CIFS) of Cornell University since 2014, serving as an Extension Associate and the Industry Liaison Officer with responsibility for establishing the CIFS industry partnership program. Dr. Stafford previously served as Principal of management consulting firm Hygeia Consulting Group, LLC, working with Fortune 500 companies in the healthcare sector, and she held positions of increasing management responsibility at a global pharmaceutical company, where she led re-engineering of the research process for the market introduction of new products. Dr. Stafford’s areas of expertise include strategy formulation, the application of systems thinking and simulation, and leveraging information from diverse perspectives to formulate executable and impactful solutions. She has extensive experience operating effectively among multiple stakeholders to help achieve common goals and prioritized objectives. Dr. Stafford holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Southern California. She has served on various community boards and institutional committees in NY, NJ and PA.
Who Should Enroll
- Specialty Food Association members
- Food product buyers and purchasers
- Food distributors
- Natural and specialty food stores
- Food entrepreneurs and business owners
- Food suppliers, importers, and brokers
- Chefs, restaurateurs, and food service buyers
- Current and aspiring food-industry professionals