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RRC partners with local food processor startup to win Best New Product award at industry gala

March 11, 2015

15616372574_077c3d51e9_zA series of innovative dishes created by Red River College’s lead research chef have been named Best New Product by the Manitoba Food Processor’s Association (MFPA).

The dishes — created by RRC Chef Brad Gray (above right), using ingredients from Canadian Prairie Garden Puree (CPGP) — won over the judges’ hearts, minds and taste buds at the MFPA’s annual awards gala on Feb. 25.

“I think the judges were most impressed with the versatility of vegetable purees,” said Chef Gray of the dishes, made possible through CPGP technology that transforms non-GMO, Manitoba-sourced crops into additive- and preservative-free purees.

“When you think vegetable puree, tasty mac n’ cheese and chocolate cake aren’t typically the first things to come to mind.”

But those are exactly the dishes Chef Gray created to showcase the versatility, quality and flavours of CPGP’s purees: a gingered carrot mac n’ cheese and a beet chocolate cake parfait with carrot sabayon, Saskatoon sauce and milk chocolate ganache.

“This is an excellent demonstration of the role the College plays in Manitoba’s food research and development ecosystem,” said Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research and Commercialization (AR&C) at RRC.

“We challenge our research chefs and students to showcase the commercial potential of food products created by innovative local producers.”

RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts established its food research program at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute in 2012, with research infrastructure support from Western Economic Diversification. Since then, it has been working to communicate the College’s capabilities and form relationships with producers.

It was through those networking efforts that the College began working with CPGP’s products. A month later, CPGP’s purees were featured in two of Chef Gray’s dishes at the MFPA’s annual holiday reception. Both his navy bean and Saskatoon puree crème brûlée and his beet and goat cheese crostini were a huge hit, as RRC students served up samples to over 500 guests at the College’s booth.

RRC and CPGP are now in the midst of developing more formal research initiatives.

“We are very excited about what’s ahead,” said CPGP founder Kelly Beaulieu. “The College is great to work with and they know how to tap into applied research resources – a potentially critical element to our commercial success.”

Another outcome is that Chef Gray will be one of three chefs competing at Agriculture Awareness day on March 17 at the Legislative Building; he will develop a new dessert recipe using CPGP’s purees, along with other Manitoba ingredients, which a catering company will then prepare for 80 people who will vote for their favourite dish.

“Having innovative companies like CPGP bring new ingredients to the food service industry allows access to healthy, locally grown and processed ingredients throughout the year,” said Mavis McRae, AR&C research manager at RRC.

“We congratulate CPGP for their vision and look forward to watching them expand their success.”