Food Engineering

Food Packaging: Sacre Bleu! Gourmet sauces in a carton?

October 6, 2003
HOLLANDAISE SAUCE AND crème brulee are difficult to prepare and require preparation time and adequate kitchen facilities to create. But an Orlando, Fla.-based foodservice supplier thinks it can deliver consistent, fresh-tasting versions of those dishes that are shelf stable, to boot.

Stylish graphics help distinguish Culinary Concepts’ Chef Creations line of all-natural sauces, egg-based formulations in aseptic packaging.

Culinary Concepts Inc. rolled out its Chef Creations line in September. The sauces and desserts are an extension of the refrigerated soups in pouches it sells through distribution and prepares in a 33,500-sq.-ft. commissary that also serves its up-scale restaurants. Hollandaise sauce and crème brulee are headed for much wider distribution, though, with Sysco distribution centers in Orlando, Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio, stocking the egg-based products in Tetra Brik aseptic cartons.

Eggs and aseptic processing are an awkward fit, and early versions of the products at Tetra Pak’s Denton, TX, pilot plant looked more like scrambled eggs than gourmet sauce. Resolving the processing challenges of an all-natural formulation was a major hurdle. “Tetra Pak offers processing and packaging expertise that can’t be found elsewhere,” says Culinary Concepts president Hal Valdes. “It offers complete custom solutions.” That clinched the decision to use a carton instead of a pouch.

Chef Creations represents the first U.S. foodservice application for the venerable Brik. Chris Fabbri, who assumed the newly created post of foodservice director at Tetra Pak 18 months ago, helped guide the formulation work and validation process. Samples of the one-quart containers were produced there, with commercial production shifting to Schroeder Co. in suburban St. Paul, Minn. The 119-year-old dairy recently installed a specialized aseptic processing system to handle highly viscous, low acid products.

“They’re the only copacker in the country that can handle this type of product,” Valdes believes. “They are able to mass produce the recipe in a consistent, high quality and cost-effective manner. We expect big things from these products.”

Aseptic pouches are too large for this application, he adds. The quart carton of hollandaise sauce yields 33 servings, for example; a gallon pouch would result in too much waste. Once opened, the Brik maintains the product for seven days in refrigerator storage. The cartons are fitted with Re-Cap closures that also facilitate pouring. High-end graphics are used, an unusual feature for foodservice packaging but one Valdes felt was necessary to distinguish the hollandaise sauce from frozen and powdered versions of inferior quality.

The products have a one-year shelf life.

For more information:
Chris Fabbri, Tetra Pak, 847-955-6000,
chris.fabbri@tetrapak.com