Culinology - December 2015 - (Page 36)

EXPERT voices Cinnabon's director of R&D finds room for innovation Jennifer Holwill reflects on brand identity and tradition Cinnabon was practicing culinology long before it was the industry standard. "We've got a brand that was developed 30 years ago on an incredibly well-researched product," said Jennifer Holwill, the bakery's director of research and development. Given Cinnabon's reputation for its irresistible rolls, how do you meet high expectations with new product development? Jennifer Holwill: We're always striving to create menu items that are the most craveable. That's our bar. When we're tasting items in the kitchen, I literally want to see someone's eyes roll back when they're eating it. That's how I know I have a winner. I tend to go more for response, honestly. Because we have items that are so craveable and they tend to be an impulse purchase, we want someone to have a reaction. It's got to be something that's "Oh so worth it" to someone. That's really our benchmark. How do you balance guest expectations with innovation? Ms. Holwill: We're leveraging differentiated attributes of our core - 36 | Culinology | DECEMBER 2015 Prior to launching in Seattle in 1985, the company set out to create a "perfect cinnamon roll recipe" that would become its signature product. "They really did take their time," Ms. Holwill said. She adds that the formula has, in fact, stood the test of time. The resulting Classic Roll recipe - sweet dough baked on site, filled with cinnamon and brown sugar, and topped with cream cheese frosting - would lure guests for years to come with its signature flavor and aroma, setting the stage for international brand growth. Today, Cinnabon operates over 1,500 franchised locations worldwide as an Atlanta-based Focused Brands company and partners as a multi-channel licensor, providing branded products for food service and retail, from toaster pastries to flavored vodka. "Once it worked, there was very little that needed to change, except for keeping things constant and fresh. And that's what our bakery has done over the years: deliver consistency," Ms. Holwill said. She says it is a challenge to introduce new items, but the company continues to evolve the brand. "We're always looking to keep moving forward beyond just that Classic Roll," she said. "I'm a chef and I love to work and create new things, that's what I thrive on." What started as a single product line has expanded into a core menu of baked goods and specialty beverages at bakeries, along with over 60 consumer products sold at retail. Ms. Holwill shared how she balances innovation and tradition in Cinnabon's test kitchen. Makara cinnamon, and our proprietary sweet dough and signature frosting - finding new ways to feature and highlight those items. Our Cinnabon Bites, Cinnabon Stix and cinnamon roll-flavored Iced Coffee and Chillatta are great examples that strike that balance. We definitely have our core menu that we'll never give up on improving, but then we do have new variety that we want to mix into the menu. We tend to think based on certain platforms or dayparts, or in the different growth sectors we have. Nowadays we're expanding beyond just the mallbased bakeries, like in travel and entertainment venues we'll develop products specifically aligned for them. They tend to be more savory, and portable, because we're in locations where people are on the go. There's so much you can do, surprisingly, with our cinnamon, dough and frosting...but we're also working in other varieties like our Wild Berry Medleytopped MiniBon and Wild Berry frozen blended Chillatta. What's your approach to in-house products versus one with a collaborative licensed partner? Ms. Holwill: We give our partners a lot of direction up front. This way, there's a lot less of a back and forth. Whereas in house, we can really sit down and come up with ideas on paper and then walk into the kitchen and whip a bunch of stuff up, and sometimes have winners right off the bat. From a food manufacturing standpoint, it becomes a lot more difficult. Number one is to hold the partners to a very high standard, and that starts in the initial development process. We want to make sure that we deliver the same high quality that we deliver to our

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Culinology - December 2015

Culinology - December 2015
Table of Contents
President's Letter - A day in the life
Emerging Trends - Hot cocoa flavor heats up
Gourmet porridge trend has ancient grain appeal
Ingredient Applications - Quality over calories
LYFE – Love Your Food Everyday
Flavor Trends - Sweet heat takes flight
Member Profile - A fresh perspective
Expert Voices - Cinnabon’s director of R&D finds room for innovation
Industry News - Mile High City hosts Future of Food Conference
Industry mourns loss of chef-entrepreneur Paul Prudhomme
Petits Fours - Tacos on the menu
Mintel identifies emerging trends for 2016
Ad Index

Culinology - December 2015