Mike and Ben learn more about a very special ingredient – the Intense tomato. But what makes it so special? To find out, they explore how seed breeding works and how it is tailored to consumer demands. They even get some expert cooking advice. Will this raise the chances for normal guy Mike to beat the chef?
The Sorted guys met Ben Silvertand, a professional tomato breeder working for BASF in Gravenzande, the Netherlands, to learn all about seed breeding. They also talked to Ben’s colleague Anne Jancic, who is a food forecaster, trying to anticipate what consumers want from their vegetables in ten years’ time. Specialty produce expert and chef Franck Pontais provided a dash of tomato inspiration and showed how to make the most of the Intense tomato’s characteristics in the kitchen. Then, it was all down to Mike and Ben to prove their skills and cook up the best Intense tomato dish.
Franck is a leading chef from Paris, where he trained at the prestigious culinary school CEPROC. Currently a culinary business development manager at Koppert Cress, an innovator in the specialty produce industry, he is an expert in plant flavors and aromas. His focus is on the UK, France and the United Arab Emirates, where he works with large food outlets and food service corporations to implement new recipe concepts using living ingredients and plants such as cresses, microgreens and specialties in a healthy and functional way. He is also still active in the kitchen, organizing food events to educate chefs and guests on how to cook plants and vegetables and teach them about their health benefits.
Ben has been a plant breeder for more than 25 years. He started at BASF’s vegetable seeds business as a tomato and cucumber pre-breeder and continued his career with breeding asparagus and tomatoes. His expertise in tomatoes covers different types of high-tech tomatoes; ranging from small cherry tomatoes to snacking, cocktail, and cluster types, as well as large single varieties. Breeding tomatoes is all about improving flavor and achieving high quality and yield characteristics. Ben enjoys working with tomatoes and predicts an exciting future for consumers with many new and improved varieties heading towards our plates.
Anne is responsible for global marketing and business development in BASF’s vegetable seeds business. She leads tactical crop developments and oversees their global implementation. Essentially, she is a food forecaster, trying to look into the minds of consumers 10 to 20 years from now. This is the time it takes for breeders to develop new vegetable varieties. Her focus area is the high-tech industry. Anne works closely with her team and external partners to develop future technical and consumer-oriented food solutions. She strongly believes that collaboration is the key for even smarter innovations.