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Cuisine Solutions

Providing Premium Frozen Food

Written by Ulrika G. Gerth Produced by Penny Krisko

Long before the art of sous-vide cooking became a top trend among U.S. chefs, the revolutionizing technique had already earned Cuisine Solutions, Inc., a reputation of having the finest, most succulent, fully cooked frozen food on the market.
Providing Premium Frozen Food

Long before the art of sous-vide cooking became a top trend among U.S. chefs, the revolutionizing technique had already earned Cuisine Solutions, Inc., a reputation of having the finest, most succulent, fully cooked frozen food on the market.

Just ask Super Bowl attendees, first and business class airline travelers, visitors to top hotels and convention centers, and customers of gourmet retailers - all venues where Cuisine Solutions has made its mark - and they invariably hail the juicy tenderness of the premium meals. Created by some of the world's most prominent chefs, the offerings, from appetizers, entrees and side dishes to sauces and desserts, are characterized by their blend of culinary technique and technology.

"Not all 'food' manufacturers today are created equal, many of them talk about their food and flavor-first approach to the food but fail to deliver," notes John Taylorat Research & Development for the Customer Experience at Panera Bread in a testimonial posted to the Cuisine Solutions corporate website. "Cuisine Solutions walks the talk. Their products are truly one of a kind, delivering exceptional flavor, texture, and product forms. They deliver a world of global flavors, each product, each pouch, each time."

The preparation takes place at the headquarters in Alexandria, VA, as well as at facilities in Chile and France. Demand has been so high that the company in 2007 announced a 60 percent increase in U.S. manufacturing operations. And the following year, it acquired a majority interest in CREA, Centre de Recherche et d'Etudes pour l'Alimentation, the brainchild of its chief scientist, Bruno Goussault, to establish the world's first sous-vide training center.

Goussault, often credited as one of the founding fathers of the sous-vide technique, has trained Michelin-star chefs in Europe and legends such as Thomas Keller and Joel Robuchon in right temperature cooking. He discovered in the 1970s that roast beef, vacuum-sealed in a pouch immersed in water and cooked at a lower than usual temperature, resulted in a product significantly more flavorful and moist compared to the conventionally prepared variety. It became the foundation for the success of Cuisine Solutions.

The company began in 1972 as a wholesale producer of French bread, delivered in the Washington D.C. area. In 1989, the Alexandria plant opened, making it the first sous-vide facility in the country. Its decision to enter the United States followed two years of research and development of high quality frozen food products for the U.S. customers. Ten years later, Cuisine Solutions acquired the French company, Nouvelle Carte France, a move that enabled the company to supply airline customers in Europe while also adding global foodservice and retail customers to its market base.

In 2005, the company began listing its common stock on the American Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol, FZN. That same year Cuisine Solutions obtained a new source of salmon and other white fish raw material when it entered the South American market with a 10 percent minority interest in a new facility near Puerto Montt, Chile. The international expansion continued in 2006 with the acquisition of a new production facility in Le Pertre, France.

Last year, Cuisine Solutions relaunched Fiveleaf, a collection of prepared entrees and appetizers created by seven of the world's most honored chefs on two continents. And just like the premiere in 2001, Fiveleaf received rave reviews.

Thirteen accomplished chefs make up the company's Research and Development Team, which is constantly creating new and innovative products. The seared seasoned sliced beef sirloin cap, or beef culotte, was added to the menu in September and promises to deliver a heavy smoked flavor with black and red pepper, making each slice a savory and tender delight.

Commercial and retail customers alike have a wide selection of dishes to choose from, featuring poultry, meat, seafood, pasta and rice, vegetables and sauces. Stuffed blue halibut fillets with lobster, shrimp and scallops smothered in lobster sauce is one option. A rack of lamb with garlic, parsley and thyme is another that made one enthusiastic customer named Sarah exclaim in a testimonial: "I've been purchasing your New Zealand lamb shank from Costco for several months now. They are amazingly good - best lamb I've ever had!"

The intense flavors are the result of the sous-vide technique as natural moisture and juices are retained and so enhanced that far less herbs and spices are required. It also preserves nutrients and colors. Depending on the protein, products are cooked anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours. They are then batch-processed and pasteurized at precise times and temperatures to achieve maximum quality before they are frozen and packed for shipment.

"At Cuisine Solutions, we've noticed more value-added products are needed. Therefore we're combining more proteins and vegetables with sauces," explains Richard Keys, Vice President of sales, in an article on sous vide. "We're also cooking more stews and comfort foods, which work great in sous vide. The flavors are much more intense and the consistency is far better than what is possible in traditional cooking."

The dishes can be found on menus at hotels such as Hyatt Place, restaurant chains such as T.G.I. Fridays, onboard cruise ships, Amtrak trains, and even Air Force One. In a partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, Cuisine Solutions provides products to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The health and safety of our troops stationed all around the world," the company states, "is the only motivation needed to keep providing exceptional products to the Military."

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