Chef “Pops” Hahne consults to food manufacturers. His firm, Chef on the Side, was located in Waveland, Miss., but he, his wife and his business are now “portable in an old, large RV.” What follows is his firsthand account of the events in the days immediately after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He can be reached best by e-mail:

Early on the morning of Monday, August 29, 2005, the most intense hurricane in recorded U.S. history roared out of the Gulf of Mexico and slammed into the Mississippi coast with winds in excess of 130 miles an hour and an estimated 40-foot tidal surge. Our town of Waveland, according to USA TODAY, “vanished,” as did numerous communities up and down the coast. New Orleans was spared this initial disaster but, within days, the levees gave way and the city soon flooded.

How do you feed people when there is no safe food or refrigeration, no water or sanitation, no kitchens and no way to get into the disaster areas?

Federal and Red Cross support were arguably slow and complicated, but this was not an everyday disaster. The National Guard and all available military became the stabilizing control in the area. Their basic duty: “helicoptering” in huge pallets of meals ready to eat (MREs) and canned water, and dropping both onto the beach and into parking lots of former shopping centers. The Salvation Army appeared and soon was feeding thousands. Two Louisiana Research Chefs Association (RCA) members converted their manufacturing lines to make food for the homeless:

  • Chef John Folse, president of the RCA, was able to begin shipping truckloads of up to 40,000 pounds of food from his new Donaldsonville, La., plant. His successful plan was to drop food at central shelters, where it then was redistributed to smaller shelters without access to the Red Cross. Included was a convent of nuns who sheltered 500 homeless coastal Vietnamese fishermen. Chef Folse devised a seven-day rotating menu to assure proper nutrition. Not all of this distribution was cook/chill manufactured food; some was product “as is” donated by food distributors, such as produce and bread.

  • Kajun Kettle, run by RCA member Pete Hilzim in New Orleans, was supplying food to a variety of venues. Chef Michael Morrison, founder of ChefRelief came in from Florida with other chefs to work in the Kajun Kettle plant “pro bono” to help make food.

    Both of these good Samaritans received donations through RCA members and other food manufacturers. Working for others were New Orleans area chefs and restaurant workers-- most of whom had facilities under water. One chef, Chris Canaan, worked out of Dougie V's restaurant in Hahnville, La., feeding thousands of power crew workers daily. Surviving schools became “the” kitchen in many areas.

    There should be a better way to feed the survivors of disasters. I personally received over 500 e-mails from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)/RCA community offering assistance; there are two ways I recommend helping:

  • Go to: This chefs' group is accepting food and money donations. Any funds received are administered by a chef's committee, and no “overhead” is charged.

  • Send any cookbook that you are not using or foodservice textbooks to:
    Katrina Cook Books, c/o: SPORTSMED
    1053 Tina Ladner/Vic Faye Road
    Pass Christian, MS 39571 This is my contribution to the effort of restoring culinary arts schools in the area. The books will be distributed to students and schools who, like me, lost entire libraries.

    Showcase: Ingredient Components for Prepared Foods

    Food formulators face a myriad of challenges in developing prepared foods and meals marketed to retail or foodservice channels. The soups that consumers purchase--whether a canned good direct from a grocery shelf or a restaurant item (prepared from canned goods at the back of the establishment)--often are developed first by food manufacturers.

    As they formulate foods, specify ingredients and scale-up products into full production runs, food scientists and other product developers require familiarity with food ingredients such as mushrooms, nuts, whole fruits and vegetables, cheese and dairy blends.

    Whether a prepared food ends up in grocery carts or restaurant steam tables and bain-maries, the creation of pre-packaged foods that delight is a must. Following is a short, select list of helpful ingredients. More ingredient information can be obtained by using Prepared Foods' keyword-searchable archives (see the LINX search function at or the Food Master directory (

    Restricted-melt cheese sauces provide a velvety mouthfeel and can be deposited or dispensed at refrigerated temperatures, are freeze/thaw stable and dilute easily into a finished sauce. Applications include microwavable entrées, fried appetizers, stuffed meat products and extruded fillings. Kraft Food Ingredients' Restricted Melt Cheese Sauces are available in the following varieties: Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce with Peppers, Italian-style Cheese Sauce, Swiss American Cheese Sauce, and Cheese Sauce that is plain, as well as Mozzarella--flavored or uncolored. Call for product specifications and samples. Kraft Food Ingredients, Pamela Schoenster, 901-381-6500,

    These concentrates and bases conveniently deliver trendy bursts of flavor to ethnically diverse foodservice or retail products. From the exotic to comforting bistro fare, Eatem Flavor concentrates and bases give perky spice and genuine depth of flavor to sauces, marinades, vegetables, soups and entrées. The freshest ingredients--peppers/vegetables, seasonings--pack the products with natural flavor keys. Benefits of bases: flavor stability, production efficiency and economy. Eatem Foods Co., Jim Gervato, 800-683-2836, ext. 120,,

    A line of ready-to-use bases can be utilized in popular entrées or can be modified further by the user for more unique, ethnic meals. The CHEF SELECT line of flavors for culinary use includes Rotisserie Chicken, Savory Beef and Wine, Caribbean Grilled Chicken, Caribbean Rub, and Beef Gravy Enhancer, among many others. These bases are made from yeast extract, which is a natural product. All of the bases are non-GMO, and most are vegetarian. To use, just add water or sprinkle on meat to add flavor. Savoury Systems, Jackie Gephart or David Adams, 908-534-6621,,,

    From fancy food shows to daily foodservice menus, the blockbuster blueberry is today's hot new ingredient! The berry's rich color, flavor, sweetness plus healthy profile make it popular as a fresh fruit as well as an ingredient in many dishes and food products. Compared with other fruits and vegetables, blueberries rank at the top in disease-fighting antioxidants and have beneficial effects on eyesight, memory and other aspects of aging. For sauces, beverages and stuffings, from appetizers to desserts, blueberries are a boon to foodservice applications, because they are available in so many desirable formats: whole, diced, dehydrated, freeze-dried, IQF, purees, concentrates or juice. U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Thomas J. Payne,,

    It's easy to add pizzazz to items such as entrées, pizzas, sandwiches, soups, side dishes, dips, salsas and vegetarian dishes with Chef Sensations[r] recipe-ready, grilled premium IQF vegetables and fruits. They are made using proprietary, direct-heat processes with no water blanching for exceptionally high solid content and very low moisture. This processing method preserves important nutritional values as well as the natural color and flavor of these premium IQF grilled products. In addition to grilled, Chef Sensations are available in sautéed, fire-roasted and smokehouse-roasted varieties. Jon-Lin Inc., 877-Jon-Lin1,

    Sautéed mushroom, onion and garlic shelf-stable concentrates provide a tremendous economical convenience to food processors and the foodservice industry. Nikken Foods Company offers a selection of highly concentrated vegetable products in paste form. No need to clean, dice and sauté fresh mushrooms, onions or garlic when using these Nikken products in gravies, dressings and sauce applications. The vegetable pastes and concentrates deliver a powerful flavor punch in small quantities. Nikken Foods, Herb Bench, 502-292-3285,,

    With our increasingly adventurous palates, Americans crave ethnic cuisines and flavors. Restaurants almost always lead these trends, creatively fusing ethnic and regional cuisines. Food manufacturers often take their cues from them as springboards for new product ideation. Versatile egg products are the convenient, highest-quality protein source used to create new ethnic-inspired food products. Eggs can help spotlight the flavors your customers crave and contribute great profit margins along the way. Get formulas and/or technical assistance at American Egg Board, EGGSolutions[tm] hotline, 877-488-6143

    This line of controlled-moisture vegetables is ideal for use in pizzas, sandwiches, appetizers, hand-held applications, sauces and prepared entrées. ConAgra Food Ingredients offers Gilroy Foods Controlled Moisture Fire-Roasted Grilled Vegetables, combining on-trend, fresh-roasted vegetables with the ease of vegetables that are individually quick frozen (IQF). A patent-pending process reduces the amount of water in vegetables by 30% to 50%, delivering intense flavor, color and concentrated nutrition. ConAgra Food Ingredients, 800-851-9618,

    Finally, heavy cream has some very heavy competition. Darifair Foods' Identical is a healthy, cost-effective alternative to heavy cream. Identical gives soup and sauce manufacturers the ability to create a great product that cuts fat by 40% while mimicking the flavor and function of heavy cream. In addition to its health benefits, Identical is a real dairy product that is shear- and scorch-resistant as well as freeze/thaw stable. Call to place an order. Darifair Foods, Jeffery Block, 904-268-8999,

    Indulgent products in all fat, sugar and nutritional content categories that have high standards of stability now can be provided to consumers. Main Street Ingredients has created a specialty line of Keystone[tm] stabilizers and base systems for non-dairy frozen desserts and novelties. The frozen dessert stabilizers and bases are processed easily using standard ice cream equipment and can be custom engineered to specific specifications. Main Street Ingredients, Michael Hengelsberg,, 800-359-2345,

    Easyfruit: Foodservice's friend. No washing, no peeling, no stemming. What could it be? No pits, no rind, no core…no waste! This no-fuss ingredient is easy as pie to incorporate in cereals, snacks, entrées and baked goods. It offers sweetness, extended shelflife and flavor enhancement. It is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. Cholesterol-free, it stars in a wide variety of ethnic dishes including Hispanic, Indian and Asian cuisines. So, what is this miracle fruit? California raisins, of course! Sun-dried natural or golden, as raisin paste or raisin juice concentrate, California raisins provide versatility in texture, shelflife and mouthfeel. California Raisin Marketing Board, Thomas J. Payne,,

    In most applications, traditional dairy powders such as non-fat milk, buttermilk and whole milk are naturally over-engineered for the applications in which they are being used. All American Foods' Pro Mix[r] incorporates only the nutrients essential to an application, so that processors save money, without sacrificing quality. Pro Mix specialty products are used in a wide range of applications, including but not limited to bakery, processed meats, frozen desserts, salad dressings, beverages, soups and sauces, and confectionery. All American Foods Inc., 800-833-2661,

    It takes high-quality ingredients to make a quality food product. Why settle for anything less than the industry-leading quality and dependability of Tree Top's fruit juice concentrates? The same attention to detail and superior standards that go into Tree Top's own brand go into the ingredients the company offers its customers. Plus, clients receive the added value of technical support from an experienced research and development team. Tree Top will help developers test the concentrates in their products to ensure superior results. TreeTop, 509-697-7251,