- What is it?
- What goes on there?
Okay. Let’s take the questions in order:
- In terms of strict definition, the “R” stands for Research and the “D” stands for Development. But what exactly do we research, and what do we develop? And who are we?
Okay, back to business…
2. In terms of the Research part, it encompasses a wide range of activities. We might research recipe databases, restaurant menus, food shows, websites and magazines, ingredient suppliers, and even other blogs to ensure regional and ethnic authenticity. We also research to learn about interesting new ingredients, cutting edge equipment or cooking methods, and food and lifestyle trends to help us decide what new products we might want to add to our portfolio of fantastic products.
Research also pertains to how we come up with ways to improve existing products, whether it is a recipe modification made to reduce sodium, improve flavor, retain color, extend shelf life, optimize texture, or approve a new or replacement raw material. Research is also involved in making improvements to manufacturing processes to increase batch size, optimize cooking steps, reduce manual operations, improve efficiency or reduce cost.
Development is the second part of the process. Once we have done the research and come up with some viable alternatives, we put what we have discovered into practice. By that, I mean we make complete products; products that are one step closer to taking up residence in our guest’s homes. Of course, these new or improved products first have to go through (and survive!) a battery of test, including:
– Benchtop testing
– Scale-up testing/proof of recipe
– pH and Brix adjustments
– Microbial testing
– Sensory testing (taste, texture, appearance, aroma)
– Cost limitations
– Process authority approval
– Possible FDA approval
– … and many more.
All this has to be completed with successful results before we enter the realm of the Line Cooks in the Production Kitchen, where we go from our initial 5-gallon scale-up to full sized 90- or 150-gallon product trials. But that is a subject for another blog.
Until next time!
The Stonewall Kitchen R&D Team