The Schwan Food Company has enlisted seven young chefs to help energize the food manufacturer’s product development pipeline, the company said this month.

The Bloomington, Minn.-based company has created the Schwan’s Chef Collective to work with its own corporate chefs to tap into the changing needs of consumers.

Stacey Fowler, Schwan senior vice president of product innovation and development, said the Millennial chefs in the collective could give the company “the latest and greatest insights in terms of what’s happening in the local and regional markets,” while Schwan’s corporate chefs understand the company and its manufacturing capabilities.

“The partnership with the Millennial chefs with our chefs is really where the magic occurs,” she said.

Schwan CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios said: “We know that our consumers’ tastes are evolving, and it’s very important for us to evolve along with them and also have credibility.”

The chefs in the collective are:

• Katie Lee Collier, chef and co-owner of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria in St. Louis
• Nick Wesemann, pastry chef at The American restaurant in Kansas City, Mo.
• Paula DaSilva, former chef of 1500° in Miami Beach, Fla., and 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• Todd Erickson, executive chef of Haven South Beach and Huahua’s Taqueria, both in Miami Beach, Fla.
• Brian McCracken and Dana Tough, chefs and owners of the McKracken Tough group of gastropubs in Seattle
• Jamie Malone, former chef of Sea Change in Minneapolis, slated to open Brut in Minneapolis this year

The seven chefs first met with Schwan’s chefs in Minneapolis in September for a tour of 13 local restaurants in three days, sampling more than 60 dishes, Fowler said.

In October, they got together at Schwan’s research and development innovation center in Marshall, Minn., to discuss opportunities for food products to be used in foodservice and retail.

“Some breakthrough ideas were created,” Fowler said, noting that the results of that session might be available later this year.

The chefs will probably get together again this year, she said, and they will also likely have “other more spontaneous engagements,” bringing the chefs to work with Schwan’s marketing teams, food scientists and others.

Smyrnios said the collective is part of a long-term strategy, and that the roster of chefs the company works with would likely rotate over the years.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
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