Prepared Foods talks with Kevin Fortun, founder of Fortun Foods Inc., a Kirkland, Wash., processor of sauces and soups. Fortun founded Stockpot Soups in 1981 and later sold the business (1998) to Campbell Soup. In 2000, he opened Desert Sage, a La Quinta, Calif., restaurant (still operating). In 2009, he founded Fortun Foods, which debuted with Fortun’s Finishing Touch Sauces for foodservice and retail sales.
Prepared Foods: Fortun Foods debuted in 2009 with finishing sauces. How did you research the sauce category?
Kevin Fortun: Actually, I saw a real need for these sauces—at both foodservice and retail—back in 1998, after we sold Stockpot to Campbell’s. After that sale, I spent years developing flavors that I knew would please everyone. These offerings include the classics, as well as international and ethnic choices.
PF: How do you formulate sauces to help restaurant chefs?
Fortun: We exceed back-of-the-house restaurant needs by delivering unique flavors, with consistency and convenience (making them ease to prepare). Nearly all of our sauces contain more than 20 ingredients. We sauté and simmer, just as a chef would. We use clean, real and gluten-free ingredients in very complex sauces. Every day, we give restaurants more intense flavors with cost control, convenience and consistency.
PF: How are consumers more sophisticated about sauces?
Fortun: Consumers want value, easy-to-prepare convenience with great taste. That trend is here to stay. They also are sophisticated and informed about what goes into their products. Five or 10 years ago, most sauces were made with sugar, vinegar, salt and flavoring. Meanwhile, we brought real ingredients, real wine, vegetables and premium stock to deliver the restaurant quality they expect. Our sauces are low-fat, low-sodium with no preservatives. Even so, they still add a powerful “wow factor” to at-home meals. I think we were ahead of our time, and there’s still nothing like our sauces on the market.
PF: What sauce trends have caught your attention?
Fortun: We have a Spanish Romesco with Saffron that is packed with fresh bell peppers, fresh onions, garlic, mushrooms, nora chiles, tomatoes, olives, white wine, etc. I have noticed many restaurants offering Spanish romesco-flavored dishes.
We also have seen several foodservice customers using our sauces as condiments for their gourmet burgers. Burgers are still a big thing in 2014. Why not kick it up with a sauce like our Four Pepper, our Marsala & Mushroom or our Spicy Mustard with Brandy?
|Want more sauce science? Click here to read how food scientists and chefs blend common and commercial ingredients to create delicious, authentic sauces.|
PF: Any personal favorites among your sauces?
Fortun: I have two favorites. First is a Santa Fe Verde, which contains 23 ingredients and is the most versatile. It goes with chicken, pork chops, nachos, seafood—and it even makes a dynamite scrambled egg combo.
My second favorite is a BBQ with Black Beans. This is not an ordinary BBQ, but one that a five-star chef would make. It happens to be our only vegetarian offering. We make our own chipotle sauce that goes into this. It delivers unbelievable taste with fresh onion, fresh carrots, corn, garlic and peppers. We call it “picnic in a pan.”
Wait! Make that three favorites. I could do a steak tonight with our Four Peppercorn sauce. It features real Burgundy wine, mushrooms, fresh onions and veal stock. It’s simply the best and delivers true restaurant quality.
PF: Any advice for research chefs who formulate sauces for prepared food applications?
Fortun: Don’t be a “me-too” sauce. Be creative.