Meet Ed van der Loo, the man behind the flavoring at Dolce Foglia. Ed comes to us with 45 years of expertise in a field where being precise is not only important, it’s imperative. The following is a candid conversation with Ed regarding flavoring and its use in cannabis, edibles and everything else…
Q: Ed, you have worked as a flavorist for 45 years. Many of our customers may not know exactly what that means. Can you give a basic definition of what this is?
A: It’s a long story, but most flavorists work for a flavoring house. There are a few really large ones. Different industries, like the food industry, see a need for flavoring. Customers will evaluate their needs and ask the flavoring house for samples of flavors, then they pick the flavor that best suits their needs.
Q: How did you initially get into this field and what kind of background do you need to become a flavorist?
A: Well, it varies; people who are chefs, or just simply people with good taste buds develop in this direction. It is helpful to have a degree in biochemistry. You also need to be creative. And, you need to like it.
– while it seems obvious, if you enjoy your work, you will be good at it, you can tell in the first few minutes of talking with Ed he clearly loves his chosen field. He continues,
I studied analytical chemistry. This was in the Netherlands. When it came time to get a job, I saw an advertisement of a company looking for someone who would evaluate items found in nature. I went to the interview and they gave me a test. They knew the type of person who would be best for this job. The first part was fairly simple, “What does it taste like?’ The second interview had more specific questions about raw materials. Ultimately, I became a junior flavorist for this company, DuPont in the Netherlands. I just kept moving up in the company. In 1975, I moved to the United States and ended up staying.
Q: You have worked at some of the largest flavoring houses in the country, International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF), Flavor Technology Company (FTC) which then became Pfizer, as well as big corporations like Pepsi Cola to name a few. What do you think are some key lessons you learned in your years working for these companies?
A: Each company has their own culture, and each country has their own legislation. You need to tailor the flavor for the company and the country. In the U.S., it obviously needs to be approved by the FDA. There are 3,000 raw materials in the United States that can be used in flavoring. In Europe one major component is, does it exist in nature?
Q: That is really interesting about the varying tastes and flavors desired in countries plus the regulations. However, one of the most common questions we get is how to take the taste of bitterness out of cannabis. As a flavorist, what do you say in response to this?
A: My first response would be, cannabis in what form? For example, when you smoke cannabis, it obviously goes through the nose. In general, though, I think people believe they will mask the taste of something. This is not the case. If you are doing it correctly, you are incorporating and blending flavor into something until it’s pleasing. Then you get to a point when you say, “Oh, this is nice!”
Q: Can you speak to how you get uniformity in products, meaning each time you purchase a product produced by Dolce Foglia can you expect to get the same product?
A: Well, we make a sample made up of a certain composition then everything else is according to formula.
Q: Are you saying each time you buy a Dolce Foglia product it is the same?
A: Yes, the same as when you buy a product from a company like Pepsi. It is always the same because of the formula we use.
Q: Do you ever find yourself surprised by the response to a flavor?
A: Yes, definitely! Sometimes you make a flavor and you think this is not perfect, but it turns out to be a bestseller.
Q: When you work on projects, I’m sure there is a tendency to have a favorite. Do you have a favorite Dolce Foglia flavor?
A: I do not have a favorite, but I’m particularly proud of Passionfruit. Given the fact this is a tropical flavor, it is not so easy to make. Stephen Cobos, the owner, called me because he had gone to a Japanese restaurant and one of the flavors that made a strong impression on him was passionfruit. He wanted me to reproduce this flavor.
Q: Besides the variety of flavors we offer, one of the reasons people love our products so much is the potency. Can you speak to why you think Dolce Foglia flavors are more potent than any others that are currently on the market?
A: The reason is the flavors should be applicable to the marijuana flower. Marijuana is strong. You need an incredible amount of flavor to overcome it. As a result, very powerful flavors are needed. One of the reasons why people love the potency of our product is because of “lower usage.” Dolce Foglia is 40 times stronger than the other products like it on the market, which results in less labor and cost.
Q: We often receive questions about solubility. How is it determined when to add a water soluble versus an oil soluble to cannabis, pre-rolls, edibles, tinctures?
A: The first thing you do when working with food is to determine whether a product is water-based or oil-based. Matching is important. For example, marijuana is oil soluble, so therefore it is better to use an oil soluble. With edibles it’s a different story. It’s dependent on the product. It’s all based on the chemical makeup of the product you are looking to flavor; it is simply based on chemistry, which is why my background is so important. Otherwise, you could try forever to achieve results which will never come.
Q: It’s so true. People think they can just pour in product, but it really is a science. I think another misconception people have in general when we discuss flavoring they think in limited terms. I wanted to just discuss briefly the unlimited possibilities in flavoring products.
A: As I mentioned before, there are approximately 3,000 FEMA GRAS (FDA approval) raw materials from which we can draw. This gives us a wide range. It means when you come in and tell us you want something to taste like “orange dreamsicle” we know what you are desiring and based on the available materials, we can achieve this taste for you in any product. This of course, includes, not only cannabis, but pre-rolls, edibles, tinctures, syringes and even packaging. The sky is really the limit. You can put the flavor anywhere.
That is truly the best way to put it, Ed. The sky really is the limit!