Sep 02, 2015 • By

Cooking and learning alongside consumers

Six foodies from the Minneapolis area recently had an experience like no other inside the Kitchens of General Mills. The small group of thought leaders was hosted by our GTECH Team, the powerhouse behind technology and innovation at General Mills.

The evening was designed to better understand how consumers view the role of fats and oils in their diet.

The event, called “Cooking with the Creators,” offers consumers a unique opportunity to directly contribute insights and perspectives on a variety of food industry elements to the creators and food scientists of General Mills’ products.


Engaging with these hand-picked consumers, who are already doing unconventional and novel things with their food, helps the General Mills team build intuition and identify opportunities that help consumers with specific jobs in a compelling and relevant way.

“This is the seventh Cooking with the Creators event we’ve hosted since the spring of 2014 and the candidness and engagement of the consumers is remarkable,” says Jim Kirkwood, vice president of GTECH. “These events allow us a chance to take a deep dive with ‘tip of the spear’ consumers in a particular area to better understand this space and apply this consumer first empathy to our current and future projects and products.”

The night kicked off with a meet and greet, followed by a cooking demonstration emphasizing the creative use of oils and fats. Then the consumers were matched with two General Mills team members to participate in interactive discussions and activities to help the team better understand how consumers choose fats and oils, how they use them in their own cooking, and how they think about them in general from a health perspective. The evening then capped off with a delicious six-course dinner.

Chefs Colby Darling, Erica Darling and Charlie Lucas brought the evening to life with a cooking demonstration and six-course meal.

Two internationally renowned food scientists, and General Mills employees, were amongst those hosting and were quick to relay how eye-opening the perceptions and feedback were.

Warm Farro salad, seasonal summer salad of fresh greens and roasted red beets, and Mexican Elote corn were enjoyed by all.

“The event has proven to be a fun and relaxed way to engage with consumers where we are learning from them,” Jim says. “And our learnings go far beyond our team; they are shared throughout the organization.”

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