Regional chefs to offer a fresh perspective on ingredients, recipes and consumer trends.

BLOOMINGTON, MINN. — The Schwan Food Co. has formed Schwan’s Chef Collective, a team of chefs from across the United States who will assist in developing the next generation of Schwan-branded frozen foods. The company makes Red Baron, Tony’s, Bon Appétit and Freschetta pizza, Mrs. Smith’s and Edwards desserts, Pagoda snacks and appetizers, and Schwan’s fine home-delivered foods.

The announcement comes three months after the company unveiled an initiative to simplify its food product ingredient lists over the next two years. Groups of ingredients to be eliminated from food made by the company’s Schwan’s Global Supply Chain, Inc. subsidiary include partially hydrogenated oils/artificial trans fats, artificial (certified) dyes, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.

Dimitrios Smyrnios, Schwan Foods Co.
Dimitrios Smyrnios, c.e.o. of The Schwan Food Co.

“We believe the Schwan’s Chef Collective will help us change the way people think about the frozen-food category,” said Dimitrios Smyrnios, chief executive officer of The Schwan Food Co. “We are proud to work with these talented chefs to make a spectrum of great food — indulgent-to-wholesome, convenient-to-authentic and simple-to-sophisticated — with the goal of exciting our retail, food service and home-delivery customers.”

As a part of Schwan’s Chef Collective, chefs will partner with the Schwan culinary team based in Marshall, Minn. The inaugural team includes seven external to the company who have honed their crafts in diverse culinary ventures — from restaurants to food trucks to the development of cookbooks. Schwan said each member of the team brings a unique perspective and is tasked with scouting emerging ingredients, cooking methods and global cuisines to continually influence the innovation of Schwan foods.

“Our team is constantly eating, tasting and sampling, and we gain insights from other leaders in the food world,” said Stacey Fowler, senior vice-president of product innovation and development at The Schwan Food Co. “Schwan’s Chef Collective enables us to dive deeper into emerging trends and consumers’ ever changing lifestyles to develop new, delicious and wholesome recipes with quality ingredients.”

The Schwan’s Chef Collective already has gathered twice in Minnesota, visiting 14 restaurants in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and the company’s research and development facilities. During the meetings, the team worked to understand the foods made and sold by Schwan subsidiaries and brainstormed new ideas to create food that tastes good, caters to current trends and wellness goals, and offers convenience, the company said. According to Schwan, the results of Schwan’s Chef Collective work will start to show in new recipes, events and more in the near future, and the company plans to expand the program, engaging with more chefs in the coming months.