JohnLandau obituary


John Landau was born in Clapham, south London. He went to Battersea Grammar School, but despite being thought of as ‘university material’, he left school after taking his ‘A’ levels tempted by the big firms’ ‘milk round’. In his case the firm was HJ Heinz & Co. in Harlesden, west London, and it was a good choice. Heinz was sometimes called ‘Heinz University’ by the wags, for the encouragement and support that it gave to staff wanting to take further academic studies. Thus John took HNDs and later a BSc in Botany with Chemistry ancillary, part-time at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster).

When Heinz’s administration and laboratories moved to a new state-of-the-art building across west London in Hayes Park, John worked in Food Research and Development. This gave him the opportunity to be part of the tomato season team in Portugal. There he met Maria, who had joined the team on a scholarship from the Confederation of British Industry, and they married in 1968.

John enjoyed the food industry immensely, but wanted to expand his horizons within it. Therefore, in 1972, he began working for Bush Boake Allen (BBA), a well-established British firm, at their site in Hackney, east London. There, under the tutelage of Henry Heath, he found a world of wonders working in the laboratory with flavours and spices and their applications. As the new idea of technical salesmen took hold, he became one of them in 1975, selling a unique textured soya protein called Bontrae. This was in a joint venture between BBA and General Mills Inc. His portfolio of customers was in the UK and Europe, including for some time his old alma mater HJ Heinz.

His career with BBA was interrupted by a spell with flavours and fragrances company Pauls &Whites in Bletchley, but he was enticed back to BBA. He stayed there until after its takeover by IFF (International Flavors and Fragrances), leaving in 2002. After that he worked for Eastern Choice, a Chinese speciality ingredients company in Wales. Retirement beckoned following his spell there, but he was hooked again, this time working two days a week for Japanese food supplements company Sun Chlorella. Although in a retail environment, this was still John from far back in time when he became a salesman: the lure of face-to-face contact with the customer, establishing a relationship and using his long experience in the industry to understand customer needs.

During his time in the flavours industry, he gained membership of the British Society of Flavourists. He became a committee member, then Vice-President and President. In 2002 he was presented with the Hugh Davis Memorial Award.

Apart from his strong work ethic, John also had an enthusiasm and desire to deepen his knowledge whenever he got interested in anything. Most of his hobbies and interests started in his early teens: coarse fishing (sometimes ‘bagging up’ with the BBA Fishing Club); music, mainly black American blues, soul and jazz – which he wrote about on occasion for specialist magazines; football and his beloved Arsenal, where he was a season ticket holder. However, in the last five years of his life, he also used his natural aptitude to start drawing and painting seriously; his interest in techniques led him to many visits to art galleries at home and abroad.

John leaves a wife Maria and son David.