Gwen Evenstad said she was surprised to learn she had earned the 2018 Stroud Jordan Award, presented annually to a confectionery industry professional with a strong record of giving back to the industry.
But as Pam Gesford, Hershey food scientist and recipient of the 2017 award, outlined Evenstad’s accomplishments and service at a banquet held during the American Association for Candy Technologists’ (AACT) National Technical Seminar this week, any surprise should’ve dissipated.
“The confectionery industry is very unique,”  Evenstad told seminar attendees gathered at the Hyatt Lodge on the McDonald’s Campus in Oak Brook, Illinois. “This is the only industry where people can say they love what they do.”
Evenstad, R&D and compliance manager for Sweet Candy Co., started at the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company as quality assurance manager in 2001. She’s responsible for research and development, product development, process optimization and food labeling.
Before joining Sweet Candy, Evenstad held technical positions at Horizon Snack Foods, Sunsweet Growers and Gourmet Valley Foods. She’s also served as a labeling consultant for other companies.
Evenstad has long been active in AACT, helping to found the organization’s Rocky Mountain chapter in 2005. She serves as chairman of the chapter, which partners with the local IFT chapter each year for the Utah Food Expo. Evenstad has also served on the National AACT Council as long range planning committee chair and as part of the program committee. 
And, to pass on her confectionery knowledge to the next generation, Evenstad developed in 2014 a course for Utah Valley University called “Exploring the Wonderful and Tasty World of Confectionery Science.” She has also served as a mentor for the Professional Manufacturing Confectioners Association’s student outreach program for three years.
Evenstad graduated as valedictorian from Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, California, and received a bachelor’s degree in food science from University of California-Davis.
Evenstad thanked Rick Kay, Sweet Candy president and ceo, as well as her husband, Norm, and daughters Amanda and Lindsey, for supporting her confectionery career and involvement with AACT.
“This is a group that has provided me a learning environment based on family values, community, friendship, mentorship, honesty, loyalty and just plain joyful fun,” she said. “I thank you for the support and encouragement I’ve received over the years.”