Nestlé Professional, the foodservice division of Nestlé, celebrated the grand opening of its 67,000-square foot, cutting-edge Nestlé Professional Customer Innovation Campus (NPCIC) on Tuesday afternoon, November 18. More than 150 local dignitaries, customers, employees and media representatives attended the grand opening, which included an interactive tour of the state-of-the-art culinary and beverage facility. Marc Caira, Global Business Executive from Nestlé’s headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, welcomed the guests and spoke about Nestlé’s global commitment to the foodservice industry.

“Our culture of collaboration is focused on our customers’ growth and success—whether it’s local, regional or global,” says Jorge Sadurni, president, Nestlé Professional, Americas told the gathering. “The NPCIC is all about partnering with our customers to build their businesses with real-world menu and operational solutions using the power of Nestlé brands. And, most importantly, it’s a place where operators can tap into and prepare for what’s next in terms of menu, nutrition and consumer trends.”

Guests at the grand opening were treated to a sensory awareness experience, designed to show the surprising ways in which aroma, sound, texture, color, and flavors affect perceptions of foods. Throughout the event, tastings and cooking demonstrations, featuring innovative Nestlé Professional products, prepared on a wide variety of equipment, from salamanders and grills to impingement ovens and woks. At the end of the event, each guest received a copy of Nestlé Professional’s new cookbook, Inspiring Creations, which features recipes for many of the dishes served at the grand opening.

Designed exclusively for Nestlé Professional’s customers—including chain and independent restaurants; non-commercial foodservice operations—the campus is also a resource for foodservice associations and a training facility for employees. According to Karla Bendel, director of corporate marketing and communications, “This isn’t just a culinary center, it’s Nestlé Professional’s collaborative think-tank for driving the future of foodservice.”

In 2009 alone, Nestlé Professional plans to host more than 200 customer, employee, and educational events at the campus. “Hundreds of people from the foodservice industry across the Americas, including the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, will visit the Campus every year,” said Kathy Lenkov, communications manager.

One major feature that sets the Culinary Innovation Campus apart from other such facilities is that it is fully reconfigurable to replicate customers’ kitchen environments. The facility also boasts ideation and product development labs, and sophisticated training facilities for remote and web-based education.

Customers who visit the campus will be taken through a proprietary creative and menu development process that is based on their individual needs and includes menu analysis and branded product concepts and recipes.

“Our vision is to have customers come in the front door and share their challenges with us. Together, we’ll come up with ideas to address their challenges, and then we’ll move into our kitchens and bring those ideas to the plate. This could be food and beverage branded product applications and new recipes for their menu, or it could entail creating a gold standard prototype in the kitchen, adding some food science to it, and creating a custom product,” says Neil Dorfman, vice president of manufacturing and technical services.

Several years in development, the new campus combines an innovative facility with a team of highly creative business and culinary experts, and is a complement to Nestlé’s many research and development centers around the world. With this new U.S. facility, Nestlé is deepening its commitment to the out-of-home food market on a global scale and building on a proud 140-year heritage of creating quality culinary and beverage products.

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