HOUSTON — The Chef’s Collective C-store Event, held by Schwan’s Co. in Houston last week, featured a team of well-known chefs including Food Network guest star Todd Erickson, “Top Chef” contestant Stephanie Cmar and Schwan’s Culinary Director Michael Gunn.
The three-day event — part of the Schwan’s Chef Collective series — was designed to demonstrate Schwan’s Co.’s investment in the convenience channel by fueling product innovation through the unique Schwan’s Chef Collective discovery and ideation process.
The Schwan’s Chef Collective is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to advancing culinary credibility. The events bring well-known chefs from across the country together to share their unique culinary expertise and apply it to a variety of foodservice segments. Since 2016, there have been innovation activations in K-12, healthcare and now the convenience store segment.
Prior to the event’s kickoff, the Schwan’s Chef Collective team visited c-stores in their hometowns to observe the environment and consumers, taste various roller grill offerings and capture key takeaways.
Once in Houston, the team visited two local c-stores for further information and background. The Schwan’s Consumer Insights Team also presented insights and data relevant to the convenience store foodservice opportunity.
On day two, the group recapped their homework and insights from the local c-store visits and looked at regional influences on flavors, products, and even store setup. The group then broke into smaller teams to take top quick-service restaurant (QSR) menu favorites and “State Fair Fare” as inspiration for roller grill filling options. The group also toured Schwan’s manufacturing facilities to learn about the egg roll making process.
At the end of the discovery and ideation process, the chefs went into the kitchen to work with Schwan’s Product Innovation Development Team members to explore new flavor combinations and create concepts to be considered for future pipeline opportunities