Bernhard started his career with apprenticeships as a Baker and Pastry Chef in Germany. He studied Food Technology and Cereal Technology at the German Federal Institute for Cereal Research in Germany, was employed as Food Technologist at Meistermarken Werke (a Unilever Company) in Bremen, Germany, and subsequently continued his studies towards his M.S. and PhD in Food Technology and Biotechnology at the Technical University of Berlin. In his dissertation he developed a systems analysis model and applied a systems approach to food extrusion, he completed his thesis with "summa cum laude".
After spending several years as process engineer at the Werner & Pfleiderer Corporation in Ramsey, NJ, he joined RJR Nabisco as Director, Extrusion Research. His responsibilities included the development of new process technologies for Nabisco's cookie and cracker businesses. He was the first recipient of the "RJR Nabisco Outstanding Innovation Award".
Bernhard then joined the Buhler corporation in Switzerland as Vice President R&D Food, responsible for global Research and Development for the Buhler Food Group. In 1994, Bernhard joined General Mills Inc. in Minneapolis, and was Chief Science Officer and Vice President for Technology Strategy. During the course of his career at General Mills he led the development of numerous enabling technologies leading to major new product innovations and significant supply chain productivity benefits. He established and led a new Game Changer program as well as a novel "Cashless Technology Venturing" initiative enabling faster and more disruptive innovations.
Bernhard is the inventor of more than 150 US and international patents and patent applications, in addition he published scientific articles and book chapters on food extrusion. He was awarded with a Honorarium Professorship at the Technical University of Berlin, Germany, is adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and a Fellow of IFT, the Institute of Food Technologists.
He was invited to participate in discussions at the White House Office for Science and Technology Policy on global protein security and is co-leading an initiative on algal biotechnology to address protein/food security.
In 2015 Bernhard retired from General Mills and recently founded Food System Strategies LLC, a strategic advisory firm as well as 'Seeding the Future Foundation', a 501(c)(3) organization focusing on food security.