March 18, 2014

Meet The Manufacturer: Interview With Plats du Chef

Interview With Plats du Chef * Product Samples From Plats du Chef * Cuisine Adventures Chicken Phở Soup

I found out about this company when I started to see their phở mentioned on Instagram. Soon afterwards, we were chatting and samples were dispatched! Let’s have a look at what our neighbors to the north are producing with an interview I conducted with Dana McCauley, VP of Marketing at Plats du Chef!


THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview! Could we start off with some information about Cuisine Adventures; when was Cuisine Adventures founded, where and by who?

PLATS DU CHEF> Cuisine Adventures is the brand name for a line of frozen foods produced by premium frozen food maker Plats du Chef.  The brand was launched at Costco in 2007.

TRR> For those of my readers who are not familiar with your line of products, could you tell us a little about them?

PDC> Sure!  Cuisine Adventures became famous for making snacks and appetizers such as Spanakopita, Spring Rolls and Mini Quiche. Recently, we’ve added meals to our offering. Besides our Chicken Pho soup we recently launched a single serve Chicken, Quinoa and Kale meal as well as an Ancient Grains Porridge with Frozen Vanilla Greek Yogurt.

All of our products are minimally processed and frozen to retain freshness; we love that consumers often tell us that our products are as good (or better!) than they could make themselves.

TRR> This is the first time I’ve seen a frozen pho product. Why go the frozen route instead of instant?

PDC> In a word: Freshness. Actually I need two words: Freshness and Purity. To make an instant version of our Pho soup we’d have to use all kinds of chemicals (most salt based) to dehydrate the broth, herbs, chicken and noodles in our soup. Then, when the soup was rehydrated, we’d never get the same fresh taste or textures back.   Look at the back of Cuisine Adventures Pho with Chicken and you’ll see it contains ingredients everyone can say and spell.

TRR> Is Cuisine Adventures involved in the local community around you?

PDC> We don’t have any formal community initiatives happening right now but we do support the United Way with a yearly corporate fund raising drive and whenever possible we donate products and ingredients to local food banks.

TRR> Why do you think noodles are such a popular food?

PDC> Noodles, in one form or another, are a staple in pretty much every cuisine so there must be some innate appeal to them. Personally I find slurping a bowlful of broth and noodles not only fun but comforting, too.

More specifically, Pho delivers a complete sensory experience: appetite inducing good looks; an intoxicating aroma that makes you breathe deeply; silky noodles that command your full attention to go from chopstick to teeth; and hot and spicy broth that wakes up every taste bud. I think that sensory immersion is the crux of their popularity.

TRR> You are located in Canada. Can you tell us a little about where you factory is and life there?

PDC> We have three production facilities. Two are in Toronto and one is in Montreal. The Montreal facility is where we make our Pho. Montreal is one of Canada’s oldest and most ethnically interesting cities. While French is the official first language, it’s not unusual to be walking past a 17th century store front and hear Vietnamese, Hebrew or one of a slew of other languages being spoken. As a result, we have access here to authentic restaurants and food markets of all kinds.

TRR> Are there any new products that will be coming out soon that you could tell us about?

PDC> Right now we’re working on some ideas for additional healthy single serve meals like our Chicken and Quinoa as As far as soups go, if our Pho goes well we’d like to explore other noodle based soups from around Asia. In fact, Udon and Ramen are both words written on the white board in our innovation room.

TRR> Can you tell us about the different varieties of noodles you produce and how they differ?

PDC> Right now we only have one noodle product and that’s our Chicken Pho which contains rice noodles made here in North America.

TRR> A lot of people wonder about the health factors (sodium, etc) when it comes to instant noodles. How do you recommend people made instant noodles a healthy part of their diet?

PDC> Unlike most manufacturers who start with a bunch of processed ingredients and then combine them into a product, the core of our manufacturing facilities is a commercial kitchen space where we start with ingredients that are as close to scratch as possible. This approach takes more time but we think it results in better products that are better for you.

We were very salt conscious when we were creating Cuisine Adventures Pho with Chicken.  The recipe contains no added salt and we kept removing sodium containing ingredients in the recipe until taking any more out, made the soup unpalatable.

The other nutritionally upside of Cuisine Adventures Pho is that it contains lean protein in the form of chicken breast. That makes our soup more satisfying than a meatless or solely broth based Pho.

TRR> Do you make/sell products other than noodles?

PDC> Yes, here’s a picture showing our current core capabilities.

TRR> What was your first product?

PDC> We started out in the appetizer and soup business in 1981. French Onion Soup, under our Plats du Chef brand name, was one of our first products and is still one of our best sellers today.

TRR> How does the process in which you make your noodles differ from other brands?

PDC> As mentioned above in question #6 we aren’t so much manufacturers as we are cooks who like to freeze things.

TRR> Where are your products available?

PDC> Cuisine Adventures Chicken Pho launched in late January; currently it is available only at Costco stores but we’re hoping that it spreads far and wide very soon.

TRR> When you make noodles for yourself, do you add anything or have any recommendations?

PDC> At home I love to make noodles of all kinds and, after a trip to Vietnam a few years ago I started to make my own Pho. Whether I make Pho from scratch or microwave up Cuisine Adventures Pho, I always add a generous dose of sriracha – especially in the winter when it’s cold outside here in Canada!

TRR> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn more about Plats du Chef!

Well, there you go! Very curious how this unique product will be – never had anything like it! Thanks to Dana for sending samples and doing this interview!

Interview With Plats du Chef * Product Samples From Plats du Chef * Cuisine Adventures Chicken Phở Soup

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.

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