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Chubby Chef Co. Among Region's Growing Food Makers

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Windsor-Essex’s agricultural roots and manufacturing strengths complement each other to create the ideal environment for food processing.

From big producers like Lakeside Packing, Sun Parlour Honey and InnerSeasonings International to small start-up food businesses like Little Foot Foods, Brewin’ Bros Beverage Co. and Licia Ruby Food Company, there is no local shortage of creative food manufacturers.

Ricardo Amaral, 22, is a Windsor-based food producer who lived in Portugal as a kid, where his father and grandmother owned a bakery. Being immersed in a food environment, and having a love of cheesecake, Amaral was motivated to start his own cheesecake manufacturing business, Chubby Chef Co., about a year ago. He started off making individual cheesecakes in 8oz mason jars for restaurants as a way to make extra money between jobs.

Amaral went from renting commercial kitchen space to renovating his home to accommodate full-time cheesecake production.

“I had a product that a lot of people really enjoyed, and that was one of the things that gave me pleasure in doing; meeting all these people and providing them with something they liked,” said Amaral.

Customers can find Chubby Chef Co. products in downtown Windsor at Toasty's Grilled Cheese & Salad Bar, Hellentic Sub and Brew Microbrewery, eight Naples Pizza locations in Essex County and Lee & Maria’s in Kingsville. Amaral also had a successful season selling the cheesecake at Thiessen Orchards.

Come December, Chubby Chef Co. will begin taking online orders for its individual as well as full-size cheesecakes in a wide range of flavours, including creative varieties such as Fruit Loops cheesecake.

Whether big or small, food manufacturing is a serious contributor to Canada’s economy. According to a 2014 Western University study, the food processing industry produces more than 70 per cent of the food Canadians buy and is Canada’s second largest manufacturing industry.

To educate and connect local food producers, restaurant owners and aspiring food entrepreneurs, the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre is hosting a seminar on Nov. 29, From Recipe to Retail: The Steps to Successful Food Commercialization.

Creating a recipe is very different from developing a commercially packaged food product. Product development for recipe scale-up requires food science, quality assurance and culinary expertise and can be a lengthy process of fine-tuning and testing. The free seminar is designed to assist entrepreneurs to take their food ideas from concept to kitchen to full commercialization.

Information presented will include food safety, formulation development, process development, packaging, shelf-life testing, food labelling regulations and determining nutritional requirements and product claims.

The event is presented by NSF International, a global independent organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries.

For more information about how the Small Business Centre can assist your food business, call 519-253-6900, or register online to attend the From Recipe to Retail seminar.