Thursday, December 15, 2016

Chef Deb shares her food journey

Corporate Chef Deb Hey and Chef Todd Erickson
from the Schwan's Chef Collective worked on Tex-Mex
inspired meals using Schwan's® food at a recent
Taste Tour in Miami, Florida.

Plus, talks about working with Schwan’s Chef Collective and making recipes for American families

Dec. 15, 2016 — Chef Deb Hey has certainly left her footprint on Schwan’s Home Service and millions of kitchens across the country since joining the company 14 years ago.

As a corporate chef, Deb inspires our Schwan’s Home Service customers with her creative and easy-to-make recipes that feature Schwan’s® foods. She also educates our employees about Schwan’s® products, attends industry conferences to showcase our company’s foods and serves as a member of Schwan’s Chef Collective.

“Chef Deb, the company’s culinary team and Schwan’s Chef Collective members play an extremely important role in bringing chef-inspired ideas to the homes of our customers,” said Stacie Dudy, senior director of marketing for Schwan’s Home Service.

Chef Deb began her journey with us at our Product Innovation and Development (PI&D) Center supporting corporate events. In this role she helped our culinary team create trend-based dishes featuring Schwan’s® foods. These events allowed our company’s culinary team to push the envelope and constantly develop new recipes and menu applications that highlight the versatility of food from Schwan’s Home Service, Schwan’s Food Service and Schwan’s Consumer Brands.

It was in this role that Deb began developing the skills she uses today in her current job as a corporate chef for our company’s internal culinary team and member of the Schwan’s Chef Collective.

When she first started in her role, Schwan’s Home Service wanted to provide its customers with inspiring recipes using Schwan’s® foods, and Deb and our culinary team answered the call.

“We started helping Schwan’s Home Service create tips, tricks and ideas on recipes that customers would love to serve their families,” Deb said. “We wanted to show consumers that they could make and serve their families the meals they see in magazines using our products and feel good about it.”

Thinking like the customer

Deb is the perfect candidate for her role. She grew up in Southwest Minnesota and is very familiar with Schwan’s® foods. She has many fond memories of eating Schwan’s® foods throughout her childhood, and as an adult, she is a mother who is constantly looking to provide her own family with tasty and nutritious meals.

“My mom and grandma were both amazing at cooking and always in the kitchen,” Deb said. “My dad was always on the grill.”

Growing up with Schwan’s® food and being a working mother, Deb easily identifies with Schwan’s Home Service customers who want to give their families a quality meal that does not require a lot of time. She puts herself in the shoes of the customer each time she develops recipes and menu applications for Schwan’s Home Service and Schwan’s Chef Collective.

“With the resources I have working for a national food company, I could create complex recipes with hard-to-find ingredients if I wanted to,” Deb said. “That wouldn’t be in the best interest of the customer, though.”

In developing recipes for Schwan’s Home Service customers, Deb only includes ingredients that can be found at a mainstream grocery store. There are plenty of common ingredients found in retail outlets across the country that are easy enough to cook with, but oftentimes, people do not venture to try it. Deb said her job is to inspire people with new flavors and great culinary ideas, and also show how those ideas work with Schwan’s® foods.

In addition to ingredient accessibility for customers, Deb also has to consider different skill levels of all the customers in the kitchen.

“When I am creating a recipe, I am trying to put myself in the position of the customer,” Deb said. “Some people can’t boil water and then you have some who know basic cooking skills but are looking to elevate their dish to the next level.”

To cater to the varying skill levels in her recipes, Deb said she intentionally includes the most basic steps and instructions but also recommends spices and different garnishes to make the meals more upscale for the skilled cooks.

Boosting customer service for our field team

The other part of Chef Deb’s job is to education Schwan’s Home Service employees about the foods they are delivering to each customer’s door. Deb is regularly featured in product-training videos that are sent to all of our Schwan’s Home Service depots across the United States and shown to route sales representatives.

“Every time a new Shopping Guide comes out, I will talk on camera about the products, attributes of the food, size, flavor, functionality; we try to include information on anything that our customer might ask the sales representative at the door,” Deb said.

The knowledge shared helps sales reps be more successful and versed on Schwan’s Home Service’s offerings. It also strengthens our customer service by helping people answer product-related questions.

Joining Schwan’s Chef Collective

The newest addition to Deb’s role with our company is participating in the Schwan’s Chef Collective, a group of up-and-coming chefs from across the country that work on innovation and ideation.

Shannon Baynard, who is the senior director of merchandising for Schwan’s Home Service, said the business unit’s goal is educate consumers on general benefits of frozen food and give people more inspiration on what is possible with Schwan’s® food.

“We want to provide consumers a full experience when it comes to the Schwan’s Chef Collective by delivering them recipes and tips that they can use as inspiration when preparing meals for their families and friends,” Shannon said.

Chef Deb is in the center of it all.

She recently participated in a Schwan’s Chef Collective Taste Tour with Chef Todd Erickson. Deb visited Chef Todd’s restaurant in Miami, Florida, where they worked on recipes using food from Schwan’s Home Service.

“Each chef has a culinary area that they excel in or are more passionate about,” Deb said. “For Chef Todd, many of his recipes feature southern Tex-Mex ingredients from his home state of Texas.”

Her favorite part of participating in Schwan’s Chef Collective is meeting all the chefs. They are a group of young, talented, vibrant chefs that are all successful in their own right, she said.

“They all bring something fresh to the table and showcase an excitement for our company,” Deb said. “They believe we have quality products, and they want to help us be successful.”

With each chef bringing their own tips, tricks, cooking styles and recipe inspirations from different corners and regions across the country, it really is like the company’s very own “Food Network.”

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