About The Food Sommelier


Who I am?

Hi, I’m Annette Hottenstein, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and a professional taste tester (aka Sensory Scientist) from Baltimore, MD.

Prior to forming The Food Sommelier, I worked for 15 years as a scientist specializing in the sensory properties of foods and beverages. A sought-after speaker, I have presented at the Society of Sensory Professionals, various Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics affiliate organizations, and for corporations such as McCormick & Company, McDonald’s and General Mills.  My publications appear in leading professional journals such as Appetite, Food Quality and Preference and the Journal of Sensory Studies.

What I do?

As a sensory scientist, I utilize the 5 senses of taste, touch, sight, smell and sound to figure out what people like to eat and drink.  It may sound simple, but sensory scientists utilize a rigid scientific process and also have broad expertise in sensory physiology, food chemistry, consumer psychology, and advanced statistics. Prior to starting The Food Sommelier, I worked for Pepsi Cola and and McCormick spices. You can check out my resume to learn more about my career.

I am also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and am licensed to practice dietetics in the state of Maryland. RDNs are the official board certified nutrition professionals. Many of us have advanced degrees and perform an internship in a hospital before sitting for an exam. Click here to learn more about RDNs.

As The Food Sommelier, I blend together the best of both of my sensory and nutrition backgrounds.  My goal is to teach other healthcare professionals as well as the general public to discover the taste of good health by leveraging the 5 senses.

My goal is to utilize my skills as a sensory scientist and registered dietitian to help people discover the taste of good health for foods such a fruits, vegetables and whole grains.



I can help you leverage principles of sensory evaluation and nutrition to strengthen your brand and attract new customers. For the past 15 years, I have worked with chefs, food vendors, marketers, food scientists, brand managers, nutritionists, researchers and chief executives in this arena during my 15 years as a senior sensory scientist in the food industry. Check out my consulting page for more information…

  • Measure taste acuity in a clinical testing.
  • Develop sensory specific terminology and ‘tasting wheel’ to promote and market your product or commodity.
  • Optimize the formulation of healthy/functional food products.
  • Help choose the best sensory methodology for research projects.


By bridging sensory science with nutrition, my speaking style goes deeply beyond the surface of conventional nutrition and thinking.  If your organization is looking for an interactive, dynamic speaker who can speak to food and nutrition with passion, energy and humor, then look no further! Check out my speaking page for more information…

  • Professional Meetings and Conventions
  • Corporations, Organizations, Schools
  • Presentations, Lectures, Workshops, Lunch & Learn Series, Food Appreciation Demonstrations, Webinars

What I don’t do?

Since I commonly get this question, I need to clarify that I do not work with children that have Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) and/or those with autism. Sensory scientists have a background in food science and typically work in food industry developing food and beverage products for those with normal sensory function.


  • Master’s Degree in Food Science & Technology – Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition – The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  • Training in Dietetics from Texas A&M University with clinical rotations completed at Scott and White Memorial Hospital and the Olin E. Teague Veterans Medical Center
  • Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist with the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Certified Leap Therapist (Lifestyle Eating and Performance) – Oxford Biomedical Technologies
  • Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition – eCornell University
  • Member and current Communications Chair of the Maryland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MAND)
  • Member and former executive board member of of the Society of Sensory Professionals
  • Professional volunteer speaker for the Maryland Chapter of the American Diabetes Association (ADA)
  • Member of Toastmasters International
  • I am a Member of the Academy of Nutrition and DieteticslogoSociety of Sensory Professionals