Gourmet pasta and sauce manufacturer searches for a continuous grilling oven and finds a spiral freezer as well. 

Joseph’s was determined to invest in customized cooking and refrigeration equipment such as this brander/searer (left) and spiral freezer (right) to maintain the handmade quality of its pasta and sauces. Source: Unitherm.

Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta & Sauces, located in Haverhill, MA, has experienced consistently rapid growth since it began handcrafting ravioli and sauces in its family-owned Italian bakery in the 1990s. After a few years, Joseph’s was confronted with the challenges of meeting quantum growth while maintaining the quality flavors and handmade appearance of its products.

“We have a passion for offering the best products and services,” says Joe Faro, CEO and president. “For example, our fillings have unique, made-from-scratch flavors that reflect Old World ingredients and rustic, handmade preparation.” With increasing volumes and a proliferation of recipes, it became necessary to further automate the production process while meeting stringent food industry standards.

 “We were determined not to lose the handmade appearance and chef-prepared fillings and sauces,” Faro explains. “So we were extremely careful when considering automation, including the experience of the equipment supplier.”

Joseph’s wanted to automate a line for open-flame roasting, baking, searing and chilling. The items processed on the line include vegetables and other ingredients for sauces and ravioli fillings. In addition, quick-freeze equipment was needed for ravioli products.

Faro conducted his research and evaluation of equipment along with David Gillen, the processor’s vice president of culinary operations and manufacturing, who is also a trained chef. “We did considerable research on the project, and then began to consider suppliers,” Faro explains. “One we were particularly interested in was Unitherm Food Systems.” 

Initially, Joseph’s was looking only to find a vendor that could supply a continuous grilling oven. However, when Faro and Gillen saw custom spiral freezers in production at Unitherm, they were impressed. “We examined Unitherm’s spiral freezers and saw the robustness and design flexibility of the equipment,” says Gillen.

Faro, Gillen and the other project team members met with Unitherm’s fabrication engineers and worked out a preliminary design, based mainly on the team’s insights. Although many food manufacturers often consider the chilling and freezing process that follows cooking to be a fixed quantity, the Joseph’s team wanted to understand the impact of both chilling and freezing product when airflow and temperature are manipulated. 

“At that point, we developed some specifications and talked about how the equipment would operate,” Faro explains. “We had some challenges like you do with anything that is custom made. But they stuck with it, and we moved through those hurdles very smoothly-then set to work on the project.”

After the processor’s crew returned to Haverhill, the vendor’s engineers continued to fine-tune the design of the new line. The key to making those changes was a collaborative effort between the equipment design engineers and Joseph’s engineers and process managers.

“The 3D modeling was a very convenient way to visualize different modifications in great detail,” Faro says. “It enabled us to work very conveniently on modifications and approvals, so that we were sure the system would work well for us in the long run.” 

For more information:
Adam Cowherd, Unitherm, 918-367-0197, adamc@unithermfoodsystems.com