The Schwan Food Co., Bloomington, MN, has formed the Schwan’s Chef Collective, a team of up-and-coming chefs from across the U.S who will assist in developing the next generation of Schwan-branded frozen foods. The announcement comes on the heels of the company’s simplicity ingredient initiative announcement, a commitment to removing four ingredient groups—partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats, artificial (certified) dyes, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors—from foods sold by every subsidiary of Schwan, including Schwan’s Home Service Inc., Schwan’s Consumer Brands Inc. and Schwan’s Food Service Inc.

“We believe the Schwan’s Chef Collective will help us change the way people think about the frozen-food category," says Dimitrios Smyrnios, CEO 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, foodservice and home-delivery customers."

As a part of Schwan’s Chef Collective, chefs will partner with the Schwan culinary team based in Marshall, MN. The inaugural team includes seven chefs external to the company who have honed their crafts in diverse culinary ventures across the country—from restaurants to food trucks and even the development of cookbooks. 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,” says 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.”

To get started, Schwan’s Chef Collective 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 results of their work will start to show in new recipes, events and more in the near future. The company plans to expand the program, engaging with more chefs in the coming months.

Schwan’s Chef Collective is the next step in the company’s pledge to provide food that meets a variety of consumer needs, including certified gluten-free, certified organic, no-sugar-added, low- sodium, low-calorie, vegetarian and heart-healthy options that are already available in its broad food portfolio. According to the company, these changes are being made with careful attention to meeting and exceeding consumer expectations for taste and quality.