We spoke to Fred Jr about the innovation process at Amy's and what makes Amy's truly unique.
Fred has been working for Amy’s for 22 years. He started in manufacturing and plant management, gaining a well-rounded understanding of how we make our food before moving into our Research & Development team where he worked for his father Fred Senior. Now Fred is our Vice President of Culinary, leading a team responsible for the research and development of Amy's products.
Where do you get inspiration for new Amy's recipes?
At Amy’s, we want to make delicious home cooked dishes from different cultures around the world. We love simple cooking just like we do at home. My inspiration comes from a lot of different places. For example, I recently had the opportunity to work with a friend of Andy and Rachel's (founders and owners of Amy's) from India, who has been cooking for her family and friends for years. She shared one of her favorite family recipes with me, and we were able to turn that into a new dish that we'll be launching soon.
How does a new dish get approved?
We have a small R&D kitchen at Amy's where I work on recipes. We first focus on making the dish on a small scale with four servings - just like you would at home for your family. Once I am happy with a dish, I serve it to Andy and Rachel, and we spend a few weeks going back and forth, tweaking the recipe until it tastes just right. Then, my second area of expertise kicks in: scaling up this home-made meal for four to our full-scale production level that feeds millions of consumers. This can take from a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on the complexity of the dish. This process is truly unique to Amy’s as our goal is for the scaled-up dish to taste exactly the same as that original home cooked meal for four.
How do you ensure that the scaled-up version tastes the same as the original?
We make everything from scratch, no matter the size of the batch we're cooking. This is very challenging, but it gives us the unique opportunity to make sure that our food tastes exactly the way we want it to. For example, we use fresh organic onions, instead of dehydrated onions, that we chop and dice ourselves. We make a roux out of real butter and flour as the basis for our sauces. Everything we cook starts with the raw ingredient, just like the way you would cook at home. This makes for a unique taste, as well as a unique set of challenges.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I wouldn’t trade my job for anything! Where else would I get to cook 1 million meals from scratch every single day? The reality in today's world is that it's getting harder and harder to find good food. Amy's delivers it daily in everything we do.