On Monday, June 24, Sara Lee Frozen Bakery celebrated the addition of a state-of-the-art 10,000 sq.-ft. R&D innovation center and test kitchen with an opening ceremony at its headquarters in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.  

In addition to nearly 75 office employees, distinguished guests at the event included Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Tony Ragucci; Greater Oakbrook Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Carlin; Keith Zagroba, a representative from Morgan Harbour Construction; and representatives from the architecture firm EWP, John Benoit and Jeff Eland.

Sara Lee Frozen Bakery procured its headquarters last year with 42,000 sq.-ft. of office space, occupying parts of the 5th and 6th floors of 1 Tower Ln. Also during this time, the space for the newly constructed Kitchens of Sara Lee was part of that purchase.

“The Kitchens of Sara Lee is a milestone in our journey to becoming the world’s most beloved bakery,” says Craig Bahner, CEO. “This new collaborative space brings our culinary experts together with our sales and marketing team to accelerate our product innovation, anticipate new trends and create many more irresistible foods for our customers for years to come.”

For the first time in more than 10 years, the marketing and product development teams will work side by side with twice the amount of resources dedicated to Sara Lee Frozen Bakery brands. The innovation center has a fully equipped test kitchen and lab as well as storage and presentation space. It is designed for customer showcase and co-collaboration.

At the opening ceremony on Monday, Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Malone addressed the crowd about the purpose-built space and offered employees and guests to opportunity to complete a quiz, testing their knowledge about the company’s history. He also encouraged employees to offer their input on different concepts and encouraged them to use raffle tickets to vote for various pie and cake ideas.

Judy Lindsey, research and development director, also addressed the crowd and explained how much improved the collaboration process will be now, having the various departments co-located. Her team of product innovators and culinary experts has doubled since last July when Sara Lee Frozen Bakery became an independent company, after the split from Tyson Foods.

After Malone, Bahner, Lindsey and Mayor Ragucci spoke, smaller groups were each given a tour of the new facility, just a brief 4-minute walk away, where a host of samples were enjoyed by all, and the various proprietary instruments and equipment were showcased.

For more information, visit www.saraleefrozenbakery.com.