Q&A with Christian Juanengo, Ajinomoto Windsor Inc.
A corporate chef’s perspective on Asian food taste trends
Prepared Foods talks with Christian Juanengo, corporate chef for Ajinomoto Windsor Inc., Ontario, Calif. Juanengo has more than 25 years’ industry experience and went from dishwasher to executive chef (trained in classical French and Japanese cuisines) in the restaurant world. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and has 18 years of research and development experience.
Ajinomoto Windsor supplies all food channels and its product line incudes egg rolls, potstickers and gyoza, won tons and rangoons, spring rolls, noodles and rice. Company brands include Ajinomoto Frozen Foods, Ajinomoto (seasonings and sacues), Amoy, Golden Tiger, Hondashi (Japanese seasoning), Ling Ling and Tai Pei.
Prepared Foods: In your opinion, what are the three most compelling Asian food trends?
Christian Juanengo: The proliferation of Poke, Asian handheld items (potstickers, eggrolls and rangoons), and meals such as Ramen noodles and fried rice dishes.
PF: What factors are driving those trends and food preferences?
Chef Christian: The freshness and high quality of ingredients is a key attraction to Poke. There is just no substitute. Secondly, I’d say the convenience and portability of potstickers and other finger foods works perfectly for those who want small meals quick or those who are on the go.
Finally, dishes such as Ramen and fried rice allow diners to “travel from home.” The food exploration starts from fusion items to more authentic servings, as the consumers become more and more familiar with the flavors and crave a deeper eating experience.
PF: What’s an Asian product you’ve recently developed? Your biggest challenge along the way?
Chef Christian: I recently worked on flavoring of a Ramen broth. Being in Ajinomoto Windsor allowed me to deliver on the authentic dining experience to the customer by using high quality ingredients and leveraging the company’s core strengths in manufacturing technology and intellectual property. Our company focus is to deliver the “wow” with our products.
PF: Any early predictions for next year’s Asian food and taste trends?
Chef Christian: I believe that the desire for even more exploratory dining will lead to even more authentic and more exotic Asian flavors. Ajinomoto Windsor plans to stay in the forefront of this food trend.
Originally appeared in the September, 2017 issue of Prepared Foods as First Person.