In today’s competitive market place we all strive for product and or service differentiation. As we all know business as usual is dead! Both the marketing and operations approaches required in today’s marketplace are very different from what worked just a few short years ago. Food products today, especially in large companies are developed by cross-functional, multi-disciplinary teams. The teams now must train food scientists to have greater culinary expertise and equally it is important to train chefs to have food science competencies.

Redefining the Burger: Brie-Stuffed Burgers

This recipe makeover has challenged the product developer to prepare an all-natural burger with a twist. This was to be marketed as a delicious, more nutritious, interesting alternative to typical all-beef burgers the public has become so used to. Starting with a standard approach to creating this burger, we decided to stuff it by creating a pocket filled with soft, oozing brie cheese to create a unique sensory excitement and flavor profile that adds a gourmet twist to the finished product. This product could be sold as a refrigerated fresh or frozen retail item, packaged two or four to a tray.

There were challenges in making this work without the cheese going all over the place and getting the burger to keep its shape. In the gold standard (GS) formula, we used gelatin to hold the patties together to create the pocket. While the flavor was good, there were obvious challenges for manufacturing since in the GS formula, we peeled the rind off the brie and blended it with cream cheese to lower the cost and carry the brie flavor through the center of the burger; definitely not a task for a manufacturer.

Our assignment was to keep it natural and work with multifunctional ingredients that would deliver a great flavor, nutrients, texture, and a stable brie filling that wouldn’t melt out when cooked. So to convert this product we had some functional needs. First, we needed to focus on improving shelf life, nutritional prospects, and binding our patty better as it wasn’t as stable as we needed it to be using gelatin. The brie filling needed to be addressed as it was too runny after cooking. The last recipe issue targeted for ingredient conversion is that we found the burger to be a little dry and lacking the moisture mouth feel we had targeted. So, at this juncture, we had to begin looking at more functional food items that were natural and nutritious.