Meet the man behind New Zealand’s very first plant-based yoghurt made from oat, rice and coconut milk. Will Park didn’t dream of becoming a flavour developer – mainly because he didn’t know there was such a job – but now he’s living the dream, and thrives off pushing boundaries and staying curious.

HotSource: How did you get to where you are today? Have you always wanted to be a flavour developer?

Will Park: Definitely not, I stumbled into it, I didn’t really know this job existed. I studied Environmental Science at university in the UK, but I’ve always loved food. When I finished uni I started working at a food company. But if someone told me 10 years ago that I was going to be a flavour developer I would have laughed and thought what the heck is that. I do love my job though; The Collective is really innovative and driven to push boundaries which is great.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
It’s such a great environment with a great team. Every day is different, very different! I get to play around with food and try new ideas. Some work, some don’t. That’s part of the fun.

What do you love most about the New Zealand food scene?
In Auckland, it’s very much craft beer and coffee which is amazing. There are always new restaurants and places popping up to try and it’s so diverse. There’s anything from noodles to pizza, just a bit of everything. Eating out here is great.

What was the inspiration behind the new plant range and why?
It’s something we’ve been wanting to make for a long time. We wanted to create something delicious, sustainable and affordable. The inspiration was really our own yoghurt – a whole new range just at delicious, but plant-based. Simple as that.

What does a typical day look like for you as a flavour developer?
Lots of eating! Lots of experimenting too. And lots of yoghurt. I work in a kitchen, lab and office hybrid – all three combined into one. People are always popping in wanting to try what we’re working on, it’s a busy space. I’m always tinkering around.