On Friday May 16th, we welcomed the winner of our contest, The Battle of the Culinary Students – the Gyoza Wars, to our plant. Christa Yeung was the teenage gourmand who captured the attention of the Fine Choice Foods and Choices Markets teams with her Spicy Pork and Cilantro Gyoza flavor. We started the day together with a plant tour and then sent her off working with our R&D technologists.
Christa arrived, brimming with enthusiasm, and with a basic recipe which was used as a starting point for our new gyoza flavour. First up was chopping up all the ingredients that made up the filling. In her video, Christa highlighted the use of water chestnuts and Sriracha. The use of vegetables was minimal in the original recipe however we suggested the use of more vegetables to give a more desirable texture to the gyoza. As a result,we added a variety of fresh vegetables like green onions, ginger, garlic and a variety of spices to liven up the flavor profile.
Once mixed, Christa got started with folding the gyozas. Every gyoza wrapper and filling needed to be weighed meticulously to ensure it was of consistent size and weight. Before long Christa was a pro, quickly filling and folding up each gyoza.
The first batch of gyozas were finally ready and cooked up and taste tested. A panel of discerning taste testers were gathered and each tried out the flavor. We want to appeal to a variety of palates so it is important to have a large and varied sample group to try the product.
The flavor of the first batch was a hit. Everyone loved the spicy kick of the Sriracha, the slight crunch of the water chestnut and the fresh herb flavour from the cilantro. One thing that was noted was how densely packed the gyoza filling was and how it shrunk in size when cooked.
With this in mind, adjustments to the recipe were made so that a better texture was achieved. With each change, the product was tried again with additional feedback given. This trial and error process is one that we go through with every product – products can go through hundreds of modifications before we find one that we feel meets our standards. Things like texture, color and smell are all part of the parameters that guide us in our product development. We want to ensure that we make the best product possible using the freshest ingredients.
After a couple of hours of adjusting and playing around with the ingredients, Christa and the R&D specialists arrived with a flavor that was delicious and appealed to everyone that tried it.
Even though the flavor and recipe for the spicy pork and cilantro gyozas are completed, there are still many hours of work ahead before the product is ready to be produced on the production line. Thought needs to be put into how the filling will work on the line, photos taken for the package and promotional purposes, and the design of the package to name a few.
Before Christa left, we sat down with her to get to know her a bit better.
FCF: Why did you decide to enter the contest?
C: In my home economics class I’m a part of a group that enters culinary contests. My group and I won 3rd in a gingerbread house contest. Not many teens are interested in these contests and there are plenty of opportunities. The opportunity to see my gyoza idea in store really motivated me to make a video and enter.
FCF: What made you decide on your flavor of spicy pork and cilantro?
C: It came down to feasibility. I had a big list of flavors that I liked and eventually settled with spicy pork and cilantro because it tasted good and simple to put together.
FCF: You’re in your last year at Palmer Secondary School now, what are you going to do after you graduate?
C: I’ll be going to UBC to study geography. I’m interested in city planning and city infrastructure and how it affects the environment in which we live.
FCF: Who taught you how to cook? How did you get started?
C: I was encouraged to help parents by chopping vegetables. Once I was in high school I started watching YouTube food channels which inspired me to try and cook them myself.
FCF: What is your favorite YouTube channel?
C: I really like Food Wishes.
FCF: What is your favorite food to make?
C: I really like baking. One time, I baked a cheesecake a week. My favorite dessert to make are cream puffs because they’re fun to make. They aresurprisingly easy and they look fancy. It has a wow factor when people see it.
FCF: Lastly, if you could be a food, what would you be?
C: Pizza because it is a party food, easily sharable and because you can have different toppings, everyone can enjoy it.
Thanks Christa! We hope you had a great day!
Look for Christa’s winning flavor, Spicy Pork and Cilantro, for sale this summer at a Choices Market near you.