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Research Partnerships and Innovation

Research Partnerships & Innovation

Culinary

A blueberry sauce rich in flavour and rooted in tradition

May 6, 2021

This past November, Roxanne Kent joined the Prairie Research Kitchen team as the Indigenous Research Assistant, where she uses her acquired culinary skills to support product development projects. Roxanne graduated Culinary Arts in February 2021 with honours and won various awards, including one for a recipe she developed for Manitoba Pork Producers. She is currently working on an individual research project highlighting indigenous and local ingredients. 

“I was asked to create a recipe for something to share with guests at the Prairie Research Kitchen. I knew I could come up with pretty much anything, so it was hard to narrow it down. I finally decided on creating a blueberry sauce,” said Roxanne.

Initially, she was thinking about potentially creating crackers or chips as whatever she made had to be shelf stable. Roxanne decided to build off the mustard she had previously created, to develop a rich, flavourful blueberry sauce. 

While developing the recipe, Roxanne wanted something that would pair well with gamey meats such as bison, duck, and venison, or could be used to top toast and pancakes. The recipe features wild blueberries, a blend of birch and maple syrup for sweetness, and an infusion of sweetgrass.

“Sweetgrass is used as traditional medicine but has also been used as tea or in a marinade. I worked with Research Chef, Kyle Andreasen, to get his perspective on how to incorporate this ingredient. We first toasted the sweetgrass, then steeped it in vinegar.”

Wild rice medley, sautéed heirloom carrots, seared duck breast topped with Wenoodizii Magan Miinan Apagajiganan wild blueberry sauce.

After developing and finalizing the recipe, it came time to give the blueberry sauce a name. The name is connected to Roxanne’s lineage – she is Ojibway from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in northwestern, Ontario. In Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) the name of Roxanne’s blueberry sauce, Wenoodizii Magan Miinan Apagajiganan, means: ”The rich flavour of blueberry that you can put on top of something.” 

This name was selected by Corey Ralph Whitford, instructor, Indigenous Language, School of Indigenous Education at RRC. 


Listen to the audio recording to learn how to pronounce Wenoodizii Magan Miinan Apagajiganan.

Roxanne prepared an initial sampling of her sauce with meatballs for Corey. After finalizing the recipe, she served the sauce with a duck dish to help him experience the flavour.

“Jamie Chahine, Indigenous Research Liaison at the Research Kitchen, brought me tobacco and asked if I would help select the name for Roxanne’s blueberry sauce. Experiencing the flavour helped inform how it would be best described in the Anishinaabemowin language,” said Corey. “Forty-five years of language and memories of dipping bannock in jam and sauce with my grandmother came together in naming this sauce.”

Food is often part of a larger experience, helping connect people and foster community. 

Connecting with community is especially important to Roxanne. In addition to a Culinary Arts diploma, she obtained a social work degree in 2015. One of her long-term goals is to work with low-income families and teach them how to cook nutritious meals. She enjoys the challenges of creating and developing new recipes, and finds it rewarding to be able to apply what she has learned in her craft.

Wenoodizii Magan Miinan Apagajiganan Food Pairings

Roxanne’s wild blueberry sauce makes for a versatile topping with many savoury and sweet applications. She recommends pairing with gamey meats such as bison, duck, and venison, or pork chops. For sweet pairings, she suggests topping bannock or ice cream.

More Information

Ingredients

Wild blueberries, sugars (cane sugar, Canadian birch syrup, maple syrup, maltodextrin), vinegar, pectin, sweetgrass, salt, sage.

Nutrition Facts

Per 2 tablespoons (24 g)

Calories 35% Daily Value*
Fat 0 g
Saturated 0 g
+Trans 0g
0%
Carbohydrate 8 g
Fibre 1 g
Sugar 6 g

4%
6%
Protein 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 20 mg1%
Potassium 20 mg1%
Calcium 10 mg1%
Iron 0.1 mg1%
*5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot.

Community through cuisine: Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen hosts Indigenous food business stories webinar

April 22, 2021

Food and story-telling has always brought people together. The Prairie Research Kitchen is creating a community environment for Indigenous stories and food science to blend and grow. On May 12 from 9 am – 12 pm, the Prairie Research Kitchen will host an Indigenous Food Business Stories webinar to foster discussion and relationship building in the food entrepreneur community.  

Community and economic development representatives, aspiring researchers, and entrepreneurs are invited to this discussion on food product development stories from Indigenous business leaders and to learn how the Prairie Research Kitchen can help as a product development resource. Participants will hear stories and lessons learned from Indigenous food entrepreneurs who have been through similar journeys. There will also be an opportunity to hear about exciting food business opportunities across Turtle Island (North Americafrom Andi Murphy of Toasted Sister, a podcast focused on Indigenous food and entrepreneurship.

The Prairie Research Kitchen at Red River College is a Technology Access Centre available to all food businesses and entrepreneurs who want to engage in food related applied research and product development. The team of food scientists and culinary experts work with companies to create new, safe food products for sale. These products can be consumer packaged goods, ingredients or extracts to be used by other food producers, or ingredients or foods used by food service businesses. 

In 2020, the Prairie Research Kitchen began outreach to Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs to encourage and support the development of food ventures. Outreach activities are part of the College’s commitment to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action with respect to eliminating educational and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.  

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action call upon every industry and person in Canada to create the changes required for reconciliation, equitable opportunities for access and growth, and to further the conversation. As a Technology Access Centre, we are uniquely positioned to support and offer opportunities and resources to Indigenous food entrepreneurs,” says Mavis McRae, Director Prairie Research Kitchen Technology Access Centre. “Bringing these entrepreneurs and experts together will create a launch pad for further discussions, create relationships that blend state-of-the-art food science and Indigenous knowledge, and will help us get the word out that we are here and what we can do.” 

McRae also says this is just the beginning and there are many stages in food product development to discuss through an Indigenous lens such as business growth, ingredients, recipe development, packaging, and distribution. McRae will share more on these opportunities with attendees at the webinar, which will also feature a welcoming from RRC Elder-in-Residence Elder Una Swan and presenters from the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program. 

Indigenous Food Business Stories featured speakers:

Welcoming and Scaling up a Family Recipe
Elder Una Swan, Cree Ware Owner

Photo of Elder Una Swan

RRC Elder-in-Residence Una Swan is a band member of Fisher River Cree Nation. She is 53-years-old and has three boys and one grandson. She says she is very close to her culture, both from a physical and spiritual aspect. She has worked at various grassroots organizations over the past 20 years as Aboriginal Cultural and Spiritual Liaison and as an Elder. She is a teaching and healing Elder. She has found this work to be giving, receiving and extremely rewarding.

The Prairie Research Kitchen
Mavis McRae, Director, Prairie Research Kitchen Technology Access Centre

Mavis McRae

Mavis has led the development of Red River College’s Culinary Research program since 2014. With a 25-year career in food product development and project management, Mavis’ connections to the Western food and agriculture stakeholders are important in creating successful collaborations. Her background in food science and entrepreneurship helps new clients navigate through the commercialization process, creating links to other valuable technical and business resources in the community.

Creating a New Product
Roxanne Kent, Indigenous Culinary Research Assistant

Roxanne Kent holding a dish of food

Roxanne began working with the Prairie Research Kitchen during her second co-operative work placement through Culinary Arts and now uses her skills to support product development projects. She graduated from Culinary Arts in 2021 with honours and has won various awards, including one for a recipe created for Manitoba Pork Producers. By using the skills she gained from her social work degree and culinary arts diploma, one of her long-term goals is to work with low-income families and teach them how to cook nutritious meals. Roxanne is Ojibway and is from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in northwestern, Ontario.

Business Ownership and Research for Food Business
Suzan Stupack, Founder + CEO, The Stak Co

Suzan Stupack photo

The Stak Co is a Manitoba-grown and Métis-owned award-winning agribusiness. Suzan inherited her love of feeding people from her grandmother, an incredible woman who always made everyone around her feel special. At an early age, Suzan learned about dietary restrictions to help her father manage health issues. Seeing how important nutritious meals were inspired a lifetime of cooking from scratch. Her family has supported The Stak Co since its inception. From social media campaigns and accounting to helping out at farmers’ markets, they always find time to lend a helping hand.

Lessons from a Serial Food Entrepreneur
Kelly Beaulieu, National Research Council of Canada, Industrial Research Assistance Program

Kelly photo

Kelly Beaulieu is Ojibwa associated with the Sandy Bay First Nation in Manitoba. Her work in agri-food, agri-business, agri-engineering and Information Communication Technology (ICT and SaaS) spans rural Manitoba, Westman and Winnipeg. Her technical and busines specialties include food processing, life sciences, protein extraction, aseptic Processing, agricultural Field Crop R&D, start-up, angel investment, Aboriginal business strategies, strategic partner development, and innovation practices.

Q+A: Opportunities and Trends in the Food Industry
Andi Murphy (Diné), Creator, Host and Producer of the “Toasted Sister Podcast”

Photo of Andi Murphy in her kitchen

The “Toasted Sister Podcast” a show about Indigenous food. She’s a producer with the “Native America Calling” radio program, a one-hour national radio show about Indigenous issues and topics. She’s also a freelance food writer, speaker and home cook. Andi grew up on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. She has a journalism degree from New Mexico State University and has been working as a journalist since 2011. She’s also a photographer, a home cook and an amateur artist who creates all the art for her podcast, the “Toasted Sister Podcast.” She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her cats, Carrot and Lucifur.

Register for Indigenous Food Business Stories

Click here to register for Indigenous Food Business Stories. Connect with our research team and Indigenous leaders in the food industry and learn how the Prairie Research Kitchen can help with your food product innovation goals! 

Keeping spirits bright and alcohol-free with Solbrü!

December 21, 2020

Looking for a made in Manitoba mocktail this holiday season? Why not try a “Sol’d-Fashioned,” a non-alcoholic twist on the classic Old-Fashioned, featuring the tasty plant-based elixir Solbrü – a new product from Winnipeg entrepreneur Leanne Kisil!

Over the past few years, up-scale alcohol free products have been a hot trend on the bartender circuit. Customers have been looking for sophisticated sober options when enjoying a night out rather than sip on soft drinks or Shirley Temples. Leanne wanted to create something different, fun and healthy. She approached the Prairie Research Kitchen team with an idea to develop an alcohol-free product to replace a bourbon or whisky experience. The Prairie Research Kitchen team of culinary and food science specialists enthusiastically set to work balancing flavours in her recipe, while providing direction in creating a shelf-stable, ready-to-drink (or mix) beverage.

The product launched in May this year, and is now carried in 30 retailers across the country – setting the stage for work on an expansion product in the future!

The Sol’d Fashioned

  • 2 oz Solbrü Restore (shaken before served)
  • Alcohol-free Abiding Citizen Citrus bitters
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Navel Orange slice

Directions:

  • “Shake to wake” the SolBru elixir.
  • Pour 2 oz of Solbru into a short cocktail glass or “rocks glass”
  • Add one tablespoon of maraschino cherry juice.
  • Add two drops of Abiding Citizen Citrus bitters. Stir.
  • Add ice. For fun, you can freeze cranberries or orange slices into large ice cubes or ice globes.
  • Garnish the glass with a half orange slice and maraschino cherry.
  • Mix all ingredients to combine, and enjoy!

Check out the video below for a demonstration of the recipe, plus the background story behind Solbrü.

Spilling the Beans: to salt or not to salt?

June 4, 2020

When it comes to cooking beans, the subject of salt has long been contentious. Traditionally, the belief has been you should not add salt to the beans until after they are cooked or else they’ll have an unpleasant, grainy texture. Many culinary experts still opt to use salt, but disagree on when it should be added or in what amount.

Properly cooked beans have a slightly firm bite and a smooth, creamy texture that is not watery or gritty. They should appear shiny with bright colour and not be broken when cooked. The flavour should be earthy and not salty.

The Culinary Research team at Red River College used a combination of scientific process and culinary knowledge to test various combinations in search of the perfect bean. This article highlights their findings regarding how salt addition and water hardness affect the cook times, flavour, texture and appearance of five bean types.

COOKING WITH SALT

SOAKING BEANS IN SALT BRINE

When cooking beans from dry, salt can be added to the soak water to improve the quality and cooking time. Following cooking trials, it was found that beans soaked in a 2% salt brine* had reduced cooking time, as well as improved cooked flavour and texture compared to soaking in distilled water.

*Prepare 2% salt brine by adding 2.5 teaspoons (15g) of salt to 3 cups of water, stir until fully dissolved.

COOKING BEANS IN SALTED WATER

In cooking trials, the researchers added 0, 1, 2 and 3% quantities of salt to cooking water after a 24-hour soaking period at room temperature. They found that beans cooked in 1-2% salted water had reduced cooking times, compared to unsalted water*.

*Prepare 1% salted cooking water by adding 1.5-2 teaspoons (10 g) to 4 cups of fresh, distilled boiling water.

Prepare 2% salted cooking water by adding 3.5 teaspoons salt (20 g) to 4 cups of fresh, distilled boiling water.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON HARD WATER

Hard water is found throughout Manitoba. It is important to note that hard water can greatly affect final sensory characteristics and cooking time of beans.

Researchers completed bean cooking trials at Red River College using soft water (30mg CaCO3/L) and hard water (120 mg CaCO3/L), as well as with distilled water (0mg CaCO3/L) for kidney beans and black beans. When hard and soft water are used for soaking and cooking beans, the cooking time is increased and the cooked quality is decreased. This effect is most prominent in larger kidney beans where the cook time is increased by 17% and 70% for soft water and hard water respectively. Although the best results came from beans cooked in distilled water, this may not be practical for everyday cooking. Further research is required to refine methods for cooking beans using hard tap water.

RECOMMENDED SALTING METHODS FOR DIFFERENT BEAN TYPES

Trials were conducted on five bean types: kidney, black, faba, navy and pinto. The use of 1-2% salt reduced cooking time* and improved the flavour, texture and appearance of cooked beans.

Based on the study, the cooking recommendations for each bean are as follows:

Navy Bean: 2% brine soak (average cook time = 34 min)

Black Bean: 2% brine soak (average cook time= 28 min)

Faba Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 9 min)

Kidney Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 36 min)

Pinto Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 26 min)

*Cooking time for beans begins when the cooking water reaches a gentle simmer. Water should be kept from vigorously boiling to prevent beans from bursting open.

Researchers concluded a little salt goes a long way in improving the overall flavour of beans.

Ready to start cooking with beans? Check out this tasty recipe:

Southwest Bean Salad

  • 1 1/2 Cup Black Beans, cooked
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 Cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Red Onion, slivered
  • 1/2 of one jalapeño, seeded, minced
  • 1 Cup Corn, toasted
  • 1 Cup, Bell Pepper, diced

Southwest Lime Dressing

  • 1/3 Cup Lime Juice, fresh
  • 1/4 Cup Canola Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Cumin, dry ground
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

In a large mixing bowl, all add ingredients for Bean Salad, set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients for dressing. Adjust seasoning as desired. Pour dressing over salad, and stir until well coated. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a few hours, stir again and serve.

Optional additions:

Avocado, chickpeas, cucumber, Cotija Cheese, Quinoa, Grilled Chicken, etc.

Funding for this work was provided by the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers. Special thanks to Culinary co-op student Aileen Lopez and the Canadian International Grains Institute. Members of the industry advisory group, Tanya Der (Pulse Canada) and Dr. Ning Wang (Canadian Grain Commission) are gratefully acknowledged.

Bump gets a boost from newfound home cooks

May 5, 2020

The rise in home cooking has been hard to miss these past few weeks. Log on to Instagram and you’re likely to scroll through endless images of freshly baked bread, elaborate home-cooked meals, and exquisite desserts. With so many of us staying home, there’s more time to test out recipes and ingredients that were once too intimidating to try.

In the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Winnipeg-based food entrepreneur James Battershill was set to launch a new consumer product. Bump Beef + Plant Blend hit the shelves in mid-March – just as Winnipeg’s first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.

Not ideal timing, to be sure, but many Winnipeg households now found themselves with a heaping serving of spare time and a dash of curiosity – which made for the winning, if unorthodox, setting for a new product to launch.

Bump kofta samples

“When we first saw the changes that came with the outbreak, we were seeing a lot of people cooking at home and people making their own lunches,” says Battershill. “We were expecting people to make comfort food – ground-beef based food.”

Bump is comfort food, with a twist. The product is geared towards the flexitarian market: people who are looking for alternate forms of protein without cutting meat from their diets altogether. The 70-30 ground beef/plant-based protein blend is the result of nearly two years of product development and experimentation.

While Battershill’s original plan of an aggressive in-store sampling program had to be shelved, the product is still currently available in Vita Health stores across the city. And has proven to be very popular.

“Sales at Vita Health are strong,” says Battershill. “It shows that people want to try something new.”

Juno Food Labs, the company behind Bump, has also started local delivery throughout Winnipeg to meet the demand of hungry consumers. And with warmer temperatures on the horizon, Winnipeggers are also itching to get grilling.

Bump is really great on the grill,” says Battershill. “It’s new and interesting – this will be a new staple to add to the barbecue.”

With extensive work experience in farm-lobbying, Battershill saw there was a gap in the market for a product explicitly designed for the flexitarian consumer. In February 2019, he quit his full-time job to establish Juno Food Labs and focus fully on Bump.

“Most products were entirely plant-based and aimed at vegetarians and vegans,” he says. “There was nothing specifically for people who still eat meat.”

Bump started where many food start-ups do: in the home kitchen. Battershill experimented to see how plant proteins and meats work together, initially using family and friends to taste-test the results. With positive feedback across the board, he approached Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen team in November 2018 to undertake an applied research project to determine the optimal product formulation.

James Battershill (at right, speaking) and Anna Borys (preparing Bump kofta) at the Prairie Research Kitchen grand opening

The Prairie Research Kitchen team has a blended background of food science and research, which made them the perfect team to bring Bump to the next level. The initial project involved ingredient selection, hydration, and ratio refinement of animal to plant proteins.

Prairie Research Kitchen research manager Heather Hill designed an extensive series of trials to determine the ideal ingredients and blending process. The project also integrated culinary students through recipe development to determine the functionality and flavour of the final Bump formulation.

“It was a surprisingly complex project considering the ingredient varieties and processing options,” Hill reports. “Our team did a thorough investigation to ensure the two protein sources blended consistently to meet consumer expectations when compared to pure ground beef.”

The resulting product performed well in production and sensory trials. The students initially developed four recipes to test taste and functionality, including a tasty Bump kofta kebab created by former co-op student and current research assistant, Anna Borys (see recipe below).

“It was a really positive experience,” says Battershill. “The Culinary Research team took the product from an idea to something that was refined and ready for commercialization.”

Anna Borys prepares Bump kofta at the Prairie Research Kitchen

While the new shift in daily routine can’t be ignored, Battershill notes that the current stay-home measures haven’t affected Juno Food Labs too much.

“Our team has always worked remotely, only now we have a more limited number of taste testers when we’re working on new recipes!” he says with a laugh.

For more information and recipes, visit eatbump.com.

Read more on Battershill’s work at the Prairie Research Kitchen in the Winnipeg Free Press.

 

Bump Beef + Plant Kofta Recipe

by Chef Anna Borys

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Bump
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 cup onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp allspice, ground
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne, ground
  • 1/8 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of panko (or gluten-free) breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Using clean hands (and gloves if you prefer), mix well. Ensure the spices are well distributed.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for minimum 20 minutes (or up to one day).
  4. Divide the meat into six-eight equal-sized portions. Form meat mixture portions into logs or pucks. You can form them on metal or soaked bamboo skewers.
  5. Grill on high heat or fry on medium high for 12-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 74ºC (165ºF).
  6. Let rest for five minutes before serving.

Note: Serve with a variety of sides such a pita, tzatziki sauce, hummus, Greek salad, tabbouleh or couscous.

You can find the full video of the method up on RRC’s Instagram. Follow along and post your own recipes! Tag us @redrivercollege and use the hashtag #RRChomechef.

What we’re doing is working… from home

April 1, 2020

Exploring new culinary equipment while social distancing

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many staff at Red River College are practicing social distancing by working from home. While this transition can be fairly straight-forward for some, what about programs that are more “hands-on,” that require access to equipment and materials beyond a computer?

For Anna Borys of the Prairie Research Kitchen, working from home gives her the time and space to explore the Foodini – a piece of equipment that, until recently, the Culinary Research team had little time to explore.

Just one of the modern pieces of equipment that’s housed in the Prairie Research Kitchen, the Foodini is a 3D printer for food. It’s capable of printing consistent, detailed designs – “like a super-smart piping bag,” says Anna.

Not much bigger than a microwave, the Foodini is relatively portable, which made it the perfect device to experiment with from Anna’s home kitchen.

“It’s a very simply thought-out machine in terms of how it’s built,” says Anna.

The Foodini features a built-in Android tablet with pre-loaded software that includes suggestions for recipes, though any chef is welcome to upload their own creations or hook up another device – which Anna recently did to print a candy version of the Winnipeg Jets logo.

Once the recipe is ready, the next step is to load up the canister (there are five altogether) with ingredients and hit “print.”

The machine is typically marketed to restaurants and bakeries, but also hospitals – since it prints soft food, it’s helpful for patients who have trouble swallowing.

“I’ve been working with it to explore prototyping uses in culinary research,” says Anna.

Anna is exploring the Foodini’s capabilities from home, investigating how she can leverage the device to benefit clients of the Prairie Research Kitchen. So far, she’s used it to print mashed potatoes shaped like flowers, pizza crust, filled cookies, and stuffed burger patties.

She’s also explored printing designs in chocolate, which is tricky since chocolate hardens so quickly. However, she was able to print a pretty accurate (and tasty) depiction of the RRC logo.

One obvious benefit of the Foodini is its precision and visually pleasing results, which makes for beautiful food photography and eye-catching marketing opportunities for clients. Other uses may include testing botanicals in different food systems.

Anna’s photography skills are coming in handy with another of her working-from-home assignments. She’s working, from a distance, with a student from RRC’s Hospitality program on developing cocktail and mocktail recipes for a client.

“The student is doing a project from home that requires some mixology,” says Anna. “She has to come up with four or five drink recipes. I’ve instructed her to write them in a way that someone who doesn’t mix cocktails could understand.”

The student then relays the recipes to Anna, who concocts the drinks and takes photos of them at her home studio.

“It’s like a trust-building exercise,” says Anna. “We’re working apart, but towards the shared goal of having the same end product.”

Anna Borys wins CEM Co-op Student of the Year Award for placement with Prairie Research Kitchen

January 31, 2020

When Anna Borys signed up for the Culinary Arts program at Red River College’s School of Hospitality, she wasn’t sure where it would take her – she just knew she didn’t want to work in a restaurant.

“I went into culinary school knowing I didn’t want to work in food services,” she says. “But I didn’t know what else was out there.”

Having worked for her family’s glass business for 10 years before going back to school, Anna had developed a taste for the nine-to-five lifestyle – a schedule the fast-paced service industry doesn’t always allow.

This confusion about her future left her in a bit of a pickle, until she started her co-op work placement with RRC’s Culinary Research team, which operates out of the Prairie Research Kitchen on the 11th floor of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute (PGI). Anna credits her co-op placement with determining her career path.

Anna first encountered the Culinary Research team while cooking her way through Culinary School. The team would often pop up in her labs and classrooms – working with instructors and making presentations to students about the work they do with clients in the food development industry.

“When they told us they work on developing recipes and that they were looking for co-op students, I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do,” says Anna.

Now, after successfully completing her co-op placement, Anna has started working full-time with the Research team.

One of her first projects was working on a new consumer food product called Bump – a ground beef/plant protein blend aimed at the flexitarian market – with James Battershill from Juno Food Labs. Anna developed a delicious Bump kofta kebab recipe that’s a hit with the client (and everyone else who’s tasted it).

“Working on the Bump kofta is definitely a highlight for me,” says Anna. “It’s one of the first recipes I worked on, and the client now uses it as a sample. It’s quick, delicious, and shows how versatile the product is.”

Anna’s food photography highlights a pie whipped up in the Prairie Research Kitchen

An avid photographer, Anna started an Instagram account to document what two years of the RRC Culinary Arts program is like. She says one of the most rewarding aspects of her co-op is taking food photos for clients like James, who often end up using them for their own marketing purposes.

Anna’s hard work is now being rewarded, as she was recently named the Co-operative Education Manitoba (CEM) Co-op Student of the Year Award for 2019.

“This award shows how important this industry is,” she says. “It’s up and coming. The Culinary Research program is pretty new at Red River College, so this recognition is huge for the research program.”

She’s also no stranger to winning awards – Anna took home the second-place prize at last year’s Applied Research & Innovation Day for her soy-free tempeh project, which she developed alongside the Culinary Research team. She’ll also graduate at the top of her class at next week’s convocation ceremony and is preparing to apply for the National Co-Op Student Award.

Anna at Applied Research & Innovation Day 2019

Despite her success, Anna is quick to credit the amazing team she worked with for helping her get where she is.

“I really don’t feel like this is my award,” she says. “It’s our award. This wouldn’t have happened without Mavis, Heather, and Kyle from Culinary Research – this showcases our teamwork. I don’t want to take credit, it’s our credit.”

Now her co-op experience has come full circle, as she’s helping to mentor the next wave of Culinary Arts students who are working in the Prairie Research Kitchen. She continues to be an advocate of the co-op process and shares her experience regularly with students.

“The co-op program is the reason for my career path,” she says. “This award, my success – this all has to do with my co-op and working with Culinary Research.”

Prairie Research Kitchen featured in the Winnipeg Free Press

January 15, 2020

Red River College’s new Prairie Research Kitchen was featured in the Winnipeg Free Press with a full-page spread and interviews with research professionals Mavis McRae and Heather Hill.

The article highlighted the Kitchen’s modern, beautiful workspace and the innovative work our research chefs and scientists are doing alongside Culinary Arts instructors and students, with clients from across Manitoba.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Complete with a board room with an amazing view for tasting and focus groups, Mavis McRae, the research professional for culinary research & innovation and head of the lab, said culinary arts students will get a whole new training opportunity in the science of food that was not previously available.

Already the lab is working on about 10 projects at a time with new a couple of new ones being pitched every week by industry partners and research scientists.”

Please click here to read the full article.

Prairie Fava: Small business with a big idea wins big at the Manitoba Business Awards

November 21, 2019

Like many big ideas, Prairie Fava started with a seed.

In this case however, it was a whole seed farm.

Hailey and Cale Jefferies

Hailey and Cale Jefferies are two self-described “entrepreneurial spirits” who moved back to rural Manitoba after going to university in Ontario. Cale’s family business was calling – having grown up on a fifth-generation seed farm in Glenboro, Manitoba, he made the choice to take over Jefferies Seeds.

But the seed to start their own business was officially planted when Hailey’s mom was diagnosed with cancer.

“My mom’s sickness really inspired my passion for health,” says Hailey. “My husband was selling fava seeds to farmers, but there was no market to sell it to. I saw lots of opportunity with fava and took it upon myself to leverage my passion for sales with making food healthier.”

Fava flour, flakes and grit can be used as ingredients in new and current food products to enhance the fibre and protein content. Fava flour is a gluten-free alternative that can be used in baking and conventional recipes. Combining pulse flours with grain flour creates a complete protein source, as the amino acid profiles are complementary. Rice flour is often used as a gluten-free alternative, though the protein quotient isn’t as high as in fava.

Prairie Fava operates out of Jefferies Seeds and the businesses work well with each other; as more fava beans are sold to farmers, that means there are more fava beans to process – and better nutrition in our food.

While starting their own business was a natural fit, Hailey says that being a small start-up meant they didn’t have the time or resources to dedicate to trial and error and market research. The duo co-founded Prairie Fava in 2015 and started officially processing fava beans two years later. After connecting with Red River College’s Culinary Research team – now known as the Prairie Research Kitchen – Prairie Fava soon got to work conducting basic research on their fava flour.

And the seed that first inspired their business has now blossomed into an award-winning company: Prairie Fava was recently awarded the Start-Up of the Year Award at the 2019 Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Business Awards.

Hailey Jefferies is presented with the Start-up of the Year Award at the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Business Awards

“RRC was the first to bring a chef’s perspective and experience to applied research,” says Hailey. “The input of a chef has expediated our product development and provided us with valuable information as to the direction we should take in R&D. Our product development has been strengthened by the connection of culinary and food sciences that RRC provides.”

One of the first projects Prairie Fava and the Prairie Research Kitchen worked on together was a fava flour crouton. They initially started testing with whole beans and flour, which wasn’t really working at first. It was a trial and error period of finding fava’s strengths.

Eventually they got to work on muffins and cookies – beloved family recipes, revamped with a healthy, fava-infused twist. Hailey says she took some samples home to family for a blind taste test, and that everyone picked the cookie with 50% fava as their favourite.

Hailey Jefferies speaks at the grand opening of the Prairie Research Kitchen, as RRC Interim President Darin Brecht and Minister of Economic Development and Training Ralph Eichler look on.
Photo by Jason Halstead

 

 

With the help of the Prairie Research Kitchen, Prairie Fava was able to demonstrate that fava doesn’t compromise flavour and has the added benefit of injecting an alternative form of protein to new and existing recipes.

“I can’t emphasize enough how valuable Red River College is for a company like ours,” says Hailey. “They have provided access to College-specific expertise and funding ​that has helped propel our company into the market. We have appreciated being able to leverage the creative talents of RRC students to do market research, recipe development and great food photography. We have not been able find this kind of diverse food research elsewhere on a limited R&D budget.”

So what’s next for Prairie Fava?

“We are very excited to report that we anticipate the launch of a fava-based ‘better for you’ product into the consumer market in 2020,” says Hailey. “With the new Prairie Research Kitchen officially open, we can’t wait to do even more with RRC on a different scale. They’ve been an integral part of our growth.”

To learn more about Prairie Fava, please visit their website.

Want to know how to cook with fava? Check out some of our delicious recipes:

Tortillas

 

 

 

 

 

Crepes

 

 

 

 

 

Spaetzle

 

 

 

 

 

Spicy Fried Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

Pork Schnitzel

 

 

 

 

 

Tempura

Culinary Research produces perfect pies for charity auction

October 21, 2019

The Culinary Research team revealed some of the culinary delights concocted in the brand new Prairie Research Kitchen at Food & Beverage Manitoba’s Industry Excellence Awards on October 9th. In collaboration with RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts and Richardson Food & Ingredients, the team created three pies that were donated to a charity auction that raised funds for Cancer Society programs in Manitoba.

The CRI team worked alongside RRC Chef Instructors Gordon Bailey, Kim Cooke, and Lylah Erkau to create the “Pie-O-Dome,” a true piece of art that showcased the skills of the RRC culinary crew. A sugar-crusted almond nougatine pie with organic dark chocolate ganache and Grand Marnier spiked coffee, this showstopper was encased in an airbrushed compressed sugar dome to provide the lucky bidder with an additional delicious (and mysterious!) surprise when shattered. Unsurprisingly, the Pie-O-Dome was a popular item during the auction and was snatched up by a very lucky bidder.

In addition to the Pie-O-Dome, the team whipped up two other pies, including the “Key to Success Lime Pie,” a picture-perfect example of the skills being taught to the next generation of chefs and bakers at RRC’s Culinary Arts and Professional Baking programs. This decadent key lime cheesecake was surrounded by a buttery graham crust and garnished with a pillowy crème Chantilly and fresh sliced limes.

RRC partnered with Richardson Food & Ingredients on the “Co-Pie-Lot Collaboration Pie,” a gluten-free sensation inspired by a classic German Chocolate cake. This partnership pie combined fudgy creamy chocolate filling with a rich and flavourful coconut pecan custard. All this deliciousness rested on a gluten-free oat flour crust made with Richardson gluten-free oats and canola pastry shortening.

Take a look at the creation of the pies in the gallery below: