The four pillars of foodservice are taste, consistency, quality and efficiency. Orlando, Fla.-based Culinary Concepts Inc., a public and wholesale provider of food products, understands this intuitively and, as such, always makes it a priority to manufacture items that save space, preparation time and costs.
A case in point is the company's "Chef Creations" line of custom-made soups, sauces and desserts, which includes hollandaise sauce and creme brulee. Before taking the line nationwide this earlier this summer, Culinary Concepts consulted with the Vernon Hills, Ill.-based supplier Tetra Pak to ensure product packaging would keep the line's trademark freshness and flavor intact. The hollandaise sauce and creme brulee were subsequently launched in Tetra Brik aseptic cartons.
Chef to shelf
Culinary Concepts was formed in 1998 when company founders Tony Pace and Hal Valdes, now executive chef and president, respectively, joined forces in order to share their successes in the restaurant business with choice chefs and foodservice operations. Today, Culinary Concepts is parent to both Chef Creations and several notable Orlando restaurants, including Manuel's on the 28th, Harvey's Bistro, and Harvey's Great Hall Celebrations.
The Chef Creations team, which is consists of culinary and restaurant management experts, works with chefs to develop innovative, cost-effective, proprietary recipes that match desired flavor profiles. Hollandaise sauce, a rich, thick, lemon-flavored butter sauce, and creme brulee, a savory cream custard topped with a sugar glaze, are perfect accompaniments to a gourmet menu, but not all operations have the time, capacity or kitchen space to prepare such items. Additionally, these palate pleasers are among the most difficult dishes to re-create while preserving flavor and freshness and meeting food safety standards. Culinary Concepts wanted to provide foodservice operators with a simple, time-saving solution for serving up these revenue-building classics.
"Developing foodservice products often involves a bit of backward engineering, usually beginning with a sensational chef creation from scratch," says Valdes. "The challenge lies in discovering ways to mass-produce the recipe in a consistent, high-quality, and cost-effective manner." To assist in that effort, a team of Tetra Pak foodservice and prepared foods experts met with Culinary Concepts to demonstrate solutions for maintaining flavor and quality. The Tetra Pak group knew it was important that the hollandaise sauce be ready to use, and that both sauce and creme brulee maintain a "from scratch" taste without adding preservatives.
Attracted by aseptic
Tetra Brik aseptic proved to be the best choice to package the hollandaise sauce and creme brulee. The aseptic technology is a long-life solution that allows food manufacturers to package even the most sensitive of ingredients, locking in flavor and freshness for months without the need for preservatives or refrigeration.
For Culinary Concepts, the move to aseptic resulted in a high-quality, naturally fresh product that can fit into the non-refrigerated foodservice distribution channels and remain shelf-stable for up to 10 months. Distributors benefit from their ability to carry these sensitive, high-value products without the costs associated with refrigeration or spoilage. Once in the hands of a restaurant, casino, hotel, or cafeteria, unopened product similarly can be stored ambient.
Tetra Pak was an appealing partner thanks to its extensive R&D department, which collaborates with companies on new product launches. Prior to production, Tetra Pak worked with Culinary Concepts to ensure the best quality and taste in a convenient, shelf-stable package. With egg as the main ingredient in both recipes, the two companies carefully investigated various stages of product formulation at Tetra Pak's Pilot Plant in Denton, Texas.
Serving up success
The benefits of packaging Chef Creations-brand of hollandaise sauce and creme brulee in the Tetra Brik Aseptic support the company's vision of expanding its product line while maintaining high quality and delicate flavor.
"The company offers processing and packaging expertise that can't be found elsewhere," says Valdes "It offers complete custom solutions."
Chef Creations' expanded product line further solidifies the company's position as an important resource to chefs and foodservice operators. Innovation and gourmet quality are the hallmarks of the company's products and the launch of its hollandaise sauce and creme brulee will assist a broader base of chefs and foodservice operators in providing additional culinary delights.
In August, Sysco -- a large distribution company -- began distributing Culinary Concepts' products throughout the southeastern U.S. to restaurants and operations in Florida and other heavily-trafficked areas and tourist destinations.