Tas Westcott commenced his career in cereals in 1970 as a trainee chemist at Carlton and United Breweries in Melbourne. In 1973 he was appointed factory chemist at Arnott Motteram Menz in Adelaide, where he developed his expertise in the technical aspects of biscuit, chocolate and confectionery manufacture. In 1988 he transferred to Arnotts Research Centre in Sydney, where he developed the formulation and process for Arnott’s Tim Tam chocolate, before becoming Research Supervisor of Product Technology Services. From 1996 he has been Managing Director of Westcott Consultants, specialising in chocolate, biscuits, cereals and regulatory affairs.
Tas has been involved in many pure and applied research projects including the chemical and physical behaviour of biscuit doughs during mixing and baking; functionality of fats and oils in biscuit and chocolate production; development of new and novel control systems for chocolate manufacture and relationship between raw materials, dough properties and production performance. His research collaborations with outside organisations extended into the areas of digital image analysis to assess the degree of biscuit bake and computer modelling of sensory evaluation of foods
At the 1990 Cereal Chemistry Conference, Tas drew attention to the continuing decline in soft wheat production in Australia, which had potential severe supply problems for Australian soft wheat users. Tas was instrumental in setting up a number of soft wheat breeding collaborations, which eventually evolved into the successful soft wheat breeding program at the Value Added Wheat Cooperative Research Centre.
Tas has been actively involved in a number of professional and industry bodies, including AIFST, CAFTA and RACI. He is a fellow of both AIFST and RACI. He was a committee member, Chairman of the Technical Committee and President of AIFST in SA, as well as holding a Governor in Council appointment to the Food Quality Committee pursuant to the Food Act.
He has had a long-term active involvement with the Cereal Chemistry Division, being a Divisional committee member (1985-89), Treasurer (1989-92) and Secretary (1993-95). He was Secretary of the 1979 Adelaide conference and Chairman of the 1986 Adelaide conference, and Editor of the Conference Proceedings 1989-1990. In 1996, He received the Megazyme Award for services to the Division.
One of his most significant contributions was as Secretary of the 11th International Cereals and Bread Congress held in Surfers Paradise in 2000. This was a major ICC event run in conjunction with the Annual RACI CCD conference that year, and it presented the organising committee with a host of hitherto unprecedented complications. Tas worked tirelessly throughout to ensure that the many and varied international visitors were suitably registered and accommodated, and made many new friends as a result. His budgeting skills and attention to detail also contributed greatly to the success of the event, and set a standard to which all subsequent Conference Treasurers should aspire.
Tas has been involved with the Wheat Quality Objectives Group since its inception in 1994, both as its secretary and report coordinator, and for his knowledge and expertise in soft wheat applications, and Asian foods. Here again he put his budgeting skills to good effect, ensuring that GRDC’s funds were spent wisely, and accounted for accurately. Most recently he has been a part of a joint AWB/GRDC/ANU project investigating the consumption trends and uses of wheat in China, and evaluating the future potential for Australian wheat in that market.
Tas has made an outstanding contribution to the cereals and food industry throughout his career and is a worthy recipient of the Founders Award of the RACI Cereal Chemistry Division.