Big kitchen pays off
Former chef Chris Cullen is making his way back into the food industry with the help of the FoodBowl.
The owner of Culley's Sauces and Salts has transferred most of his production to the $17 million facility, which has a variety of industrial-sized specialist cooking equipment.
The Mangere-based centre was set up by the Ministry of Economic Development and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development to foster growth in the food industry.
The St Johns resident says using 80-litre and 120-litre kettles has revolutionised the way he produces his products.
"You can dial up quite a significant amount on one production day. It's reduced my production time by about 75 per cent."
But it's also given Mr Cullen, who currently works in the corporate world as well as running his business, an idea of how to develop the company in the future.
"Culley's has gone from a hobby business to a real business. They are helping me go through that adolescent phase."
The process has been so successful, a major supermarket chain has shown a strong interest in stocking Culley's products.
Other benefits of using the centre include helping him make a decision on how much he needs to invest in an industrial kitchen of his own.
There's a cost involved in hiring out the FoodBowl's facilities but he says it's worth it.
Developing knowledge about food safety and science, along with research and development is another bonus.
Support from FoodBowl staff when running a production day is also important, he says.
"It's a bloody long day but they stick with it. There were four of us from Culley's and four from the FoodBowl. We were in there from 7am right through to 6pm."
FoodBowl chief executive Sarita Males says interest in the facility has steadily increased since it opened in October 2011.
"We've had quite a lot of success getting smaller clients like Chris who are stepping up production and looking at diversifying their production channel."
Using the FoodBowl helps them to make decisions about kitchen investment before going to the bank for a loan "especially when it's more than $1 million", she says.
Larger businesses and multi-nationals also use the facility.
East And Bays Courier