A look at Lean Cuisine's culinary roundtable
Frozen foods haven't always had the best rap. However, the king of healthy frozen entrees, Lean Cuisine, is doing their part to liven up the frozen food aisle and give you something you'll look forward to eating come lunchtime.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend one of Lean Cuisine's Culinary Roundtables in New York City. On the agenda was the chance to cook with James Beard award-winning chefs and learn what makes Lean Cuisine "culinary chic." In addition to eating, cooking, listening and eating (did we mention that yet?), we got the chance to try our hands at making our own salad to promote the release of their new Salad Additions.
What is culinary chic?
Lean Cuisine is reinventing the way we view frozen foods by tying in things we love, like fashion, to things we need, like healthy food. To appeal to what we as women crave, they are teaming up with chefs to create bright, vibrant dishes with new, exciting ingredients, like soba noodles, Asian cucumbers, kale, bright peppers and pine nuts. According to their brand manager, being culinary chic is being knowledgeable, smart, passionate and excited about what you eat. That's why their group of top-rated chefs are spending hours prepping meals that aren't just good, but are pretty chic and sexy too.
What's next for frozen foods?
Even with a sexy new slogan, many people (including myself) are still critical of frozen entrees. For one, many are made with ingredients no one can pronounce in a petri dish in some plant in Iowa. However, as I learned at the roundtable, this couldn't be further from the truth. Lean Cuisine's newest and most innovative product, Salad Additions, are made from only healthy and natural ingredients, like lean grilled chicken, pineapple, snap peas, cranberries and homemade dressings. Not only that, the BYOL (bring your own lettuce) aspect gives you the chance to customize your salad with your favorite greens, like spinach or baby arugula. The frozen to fresh plug of this product makes it easier than ever for busy women to get more greens in their diet.
The next exciting thing to come out of the Lean Cuisine kitchens is Honestly Good, 100 percent natural and wholesome meals that are sold in the "healthy food" section of the grocery store. With this product, what you see is what you get. The photo on the front of the package is exactly what you see when you unwrap it. Plus, there's a choice for everyone, with flavors like pomegranate chicken, pineapple and black pepper beef and lemongrass salmon, to name a few!
The role of the roundtable
Unlike many brands, who keep their meal planning and new product launches top secret, Lean Cuisine is breaking away from the mold and giving consumers a peek into their test kitchens and brainstorming sessions. The roundtable, which is held a few times a year, brings together the best culinary minds in the country for a weekend of taste testing, cooking, product talk and recipe creation. The chefs, Michelle Bernstein, Lucien Vendome, Brad Farmerie, Paul Kahan, Anita Lo and Lior Lev Sercarz, work together with Nestle chefs to come up with innovative, natural, healthy, fresh and exciting meals for their many frozen food lines and next generation of meals.
We had the chance to cook with Michelle Bernstein to create a fresh salad we'd love to see in the new Lean Cuisine Salad Additions. Unlike cooking for restaurants, the meals they make have to be extremely well thought out, taste tested and played with since each ingredient has to freeze without losing flavor or antioxidants. The chefs also play a huge part in promoting the brand and getting consumers excited about this new outlook on frozen food.
For more information on the roundtable, the chefs of Lean Cuisine's new products, check out their website!