Prior to receiving the NSERC Innovation Enhancement (IE) grant that supported our early capacity-building projects, we received funding from NSERC Engage in 2014 that launched RRC Culinary Research’s first collaboration with industry: a project with Granny’s Poultry Cooperative.
Granny’s Poultry worked closely with RRC Polytech chefs and students on the final phase of development for two new products: Cornbread Stuffed Turkey and an Unstuffed Slow Cooker Turkey Roast. Both products are naturally gluten-free and can be cooked straight from the freezer without thawing – the first of their kind to hit the market.
After working with our Culinary Research students and staff to test both products, Granny’s fine-tuned their formula and cooking methods, ultimately securing a partnership with a major retailer that carries the products in over 100 stores across the Prairies.
The now-inactive NSERC Engage initiative contributed a maximum of $25,000 to these research projects, augmented with in-kind contributions and cash from the partnering company. Additional NSERC Engage funding helped us take on several large projects, including a collaboration with Hemp Oil Canada (which later merged with Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, which was later purchased by Tilray).
This project developed student-led hemp oil prototypes under the guidance of chef instructor Gordon Bailey. Although hemp seeds, flour and protein products have come to dominate the hemp market, the oil extracted during processing contains valuable polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are important for human and animal health. Despite its healthy reputation, hemp oil is not widely used in food service.
Hemp Oil Canada partnered with us to create new, healthy oil-based products for mainstream consumers that overcome major challenges, including hemp oil’s colour, strong flavour, and vulnerability to rapid oxidation.
Combining science and creativity, our team did just that, presenting recipes ready for test marketing and scale-up. The recipes we developed were based off popular dressings and dips typically made with other vegetable oils. Our goal was to maximize the hemp oil in each recipe as much as possible. We also conducted consumer trials for our recipes, which met with a positive response.