Culinary Innovation: Rich’s Unveils First Complete Liquid Dairy Alternative for Professional Kitchens

You know you’re really onto something when your idea is good enough to be patented.

That’s what’s happening with Rich’s Culinary Solutions Plant Based Cooking Creme, the first complete liquid dairy alternative for the professional kitchen.

The new product is a breakthrough for the foodservice industry, explained Rich’s Carolyn Tomlinson, describing it as a revolutionary, “chef-inspired,” plant based cooking creme that outshines heavy cream as it helps meet the growing dietary needs of the U.S. population.

“This is a long-awaited innovation,” acknowledged Tomlinson, the senior marketing manager in Rich’s Foodservice Division who steered the product’s development.  “Our new Plant Based Cooking Creme can serve as a superior alternative to liquid dairy ingredients, in terms of both performance and taste.  It will enable chefs and foodservice operators across all industries to feed groups with dietary preferences, restrictions and sensitivities, which for years have posed significant challenges.”

According to a Nielsen study,* at least 51 percent of the American population has some sort of dietary restriction – e.g., individuals might be subject to gluten-free, low-sugar, low-sodium or lactose-free requirements for their meals – and more than 40 percent of those consumers feel their needs haven’t been fully met by current product offerings.

Our Plant Based Cooking Creme is void of the ‘Big 8’ allergens, which are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy,” Tomlinson pointed out.  “This allows chefs the freedom to make creative, delicious, inspired dishes for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their dietary needs.”

The groundbreaking product qualifies as vegan, gluten-free, kosher-parve and halal.  It also contains no artificial flavors or colors.  In addition, compared to heavy cream, Plant Based Cooking Creme has 10-percent fewer calories, 30-percent less total fat, 89-percent less saturated fat, no trans-fat, and no cholesterol.

With an estimated 56 percent of consumers indicating they’d be willing to pay more for food and drinks that do not contain undesirable ingredients,* Plant Based Cooking Creme has the potential to drive a stronger bottom line for foodservice operators, Tomlinson noted.

Flavor Advantages

“The product has an innate, very appealing, yet very mellow flavor that stands above liquid dairy,” said Chef Gregory Helinski, a culinary manager for Rich’s national commercial chains.  “It carries flavors better than dairy, because it’s not bringing its own significant profile into the mix.  Instead, it accepts and highlights other flavors – both sweet and savory – very well, which is quite liberating.”

The new product is also a dream to work with in the kitchen.  Its smooth, silky texture won’t split or scorch, like heavy cream does, and the product also won’t form a skin.  It can be diluted from heavy cream to skim milk simply by adding water.  It doesn’t break when heated (or when frozen and reheated), and if it should get close to breaking, it can be brought back, whereas heavy cream can’t be restored.  “The product is very forgiving,” Chef Gregory observed.

“No one will even notice you’re using a dairy alternative,” he added.  “Meanwhile, you are improving recipe quality while reducing waste and maximizing on space and food cost.”

Chef-Inspired Solution

Culinary Solutions Plant Based Cooking Creme was developed from extensive field research involving professional chefs, cooks, food-and-beverage directors and buyers, dieticians and others.  Integral to the groundbreaking product’s creation internally were Rich’s developers Dan Kinkelaar and Trupti Palav, from R&D, as well as the industrious Toppings, Creams and Culinary Solutions Natural Work Team.

“We wanted to know the biggest challenges foodservice operators throughout the country were facing,” Tomlinson explained, “and we kept hearing about the same struggle everywhere, which was, ‘How can I accommodate the dramatic increase in dietary restrictions that we’re seeing?’  The situation was forcing operators to carry a lot more ingredients, and that can get very expensive.”

“We met this challenge head-on, utilizing a cross-functional team of culinary, R&D and sales associates from Rich’s to come up with potential solutions,” she continued.  “Once we developed the Plant Based Cooking Creme prototype, we kept testing it with our foodservice contacts in the field until we got it right – that’s where ‘chef-inspired’ comes from.”

“The forward thinking and innovation that went into the Plant Based Cooking Creme has always been part of Rich’s heritage,” said Chef Brian Heidbrink, also a culinary manager at the company. “Our research and commitment to quality stand up because they’re based on listening to our customers, understanding their issues, being creative and testing the boundaries of what’s possible, and providing solutions that add value.”

*Nielsen Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey, U.S., Q1 2016