Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Frito-Lay Flavor Kitchen Demo

Soooo, remember how I told you about that Frito-Lay taste test tour I got to participate in at the Healthy Living Summit? Well, I'm finally sharing the details!

About 20 or so bloggers were invited to the Flavor Kitchen on Friday before the Summit kicked off. Because I knew I was getting to Philadelphia early, I thought this (and a long run) would help to fill my time prior to the cocktail party.


When we were first invited, we were asked to submit ideas for flavors we'd like to taste from Frito-Lay. I thought hard about what flavors aren't out there that my tastebuds would love.

Eventually, I chose: chili lime, coconut curry, red pepper 'n cheddar, caramelized onion and cheese, tomato cheese (like soup and a sandwich rolled into a chip) and cinnamon spice and everything nice for SunChips as my picks.

Apparently, the Flavor Kitchen chefs liked my ideas because TWO of my ideas were used during the demonstration! More on that in a minute.

So after running a tough, muggy 15 miler, I raced to shower and get ready, arriving in the lobby with wet hair. Thank goodness for Starbucks in our hotel lobby! I ordered a perfect oatmeal (w/ all the fixings), a banana and chocolate milk to refuel after that run.

I think a few other dressed up bloggers saw my hot mess and wondered who the crazy (drenched, frazzled looking) person was. But it's all good - the things you do in the name of running!

At 9:45 am we walked over with the Ketchum PR folks to the Reading Terminal Market where the Taste Kitchen and the Frito-Lay chefs would be.

First, one of their PR execs spoke about Frito-Lay's commitment to health, wellness and sustainability. Honestly, I was surprised with how focused they are on making their snack products healthy for the consumer. They not only have a kitchen of experienced chefs developing new recipes, but also 2-4 Registered Dietitians (I can't remember the #).

 Some interesting Frito-Lay facts:
  • Did you know that their new chip bags are designed to decompose within 14 weeks in a hot, active compost heap?
  • Frito-Lay chips you eat are probably made at a plant within a few hundred miles of you because chips can't safely travel far without being crushed
  • Many of their products are made with three simple ingredients: corn or potatoes, healthier oils and salt. Spices are added for flavoring.
  • Lay's classic potato chips have about the same amount of sodium as a slice of white bread. The difference? The salt is baked into the bread and the salt is put on the surface of the chip so the taste stands out more.
  • Another country (i can remember where) there is a "baked chicken" flavor. Disgusting! The Frito-Lay chefs travel to different countries doing taste testing for that market.
After hearing interesting info about the company, Chef Stephen Kalil and a few other chefs talked a bit about what they do and then the cooking and tasting began!

Then, I was asked to come up to the front to help Chef Stephen cook because two of my recipes had been selected - caramelized onions and cheese for SunChips and coconut curry for Lay's potato chips.
It was a lot of fun to cook with Chef Stephen, but all of those onions were making my eyes sting!


Left: onions caramelized in olive oil paired w/ goat cheese Right: onions caramelized in butter paired w/ parmesan cheese (the obvious winner in my book)
We also made a green and red curry. I liked both, but couldn't choose my favorite of the two. And then chef moved onto a deeeelicious guacamole.

 One of the best parts is that we all got to leave with a swag bag of goodies, coupons, a free bag of chips and this adorable t-shirt right then and there!



Overall, it was a fun event and I'm really glad I took part. I learned a lot of surprising facts about Frito-Lay and how their chefs come up with new flavors.

Check out the article Frito-Lay wrote about the Flavor Kitchen event (I'm in the first photo!).

AND the podcast Frito-Lay recorded with me after the cooking demonstration! I feel famous...except not. ;)

P.S. It's SO weird to hear your own voice played back to you. It never sounds right.

Has anything ever made you think twice about your beliefs in a specific brand or product? Favorite chip flavor? Sun Chips Salsa flavor is a big (yet rare) hit in our household. And I love the multigrain version of Food Should Taste Good chips.

3 comments:

Lindsey said...

It's great that such a large company is dedicated to making their products healthy. I tend to purchase one brand over another if I know they are a sustainable company, or a local company, and the ingredients are healthy. So awesome two of your flavor suggestions were picked!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

That is so cool that 2 of your flavor combinations got chosen! You have a good mind for things like that - very cool!!

It is interesting to learn more abou that company! Nice to hear that a large corporation like that is making smart choices.

Lisa Fine said...

Yay Lauren! It was so fun watching you take part in the demo. And I love the shirts too! (Though my family thinks it is funny that I wear it.)