[OIL CRACKLING] [CALM MUSIC]
MIKE ANNUNZIATA: We believe we have the potential to be what we call the 21st-century food company. And that 21st-century food company is somebody who brings the ideas behind creating a more sustainable food system to the front of their business while still being able to create value for customers, restaurateurs, distributors, and other players in the food chain. And the only way to have delicious foods that overcome infrastructure constraints is having technology sit in the middle.
VIPUL SARAN: We are using a combination of high-pressure carbon dioxide with moderate high temperatures so that the product processed in this environment doesn't brown at all. Similarly, we are able to pasteurize the product while it is in the packaging, which allows us to achieve commercial stability in the case of shelf-stable French fries.
MIKE ANNUNZIATA: What we are fortunate for is the other entrepreneurs that have that Cornell tie that we share this experience with, that continue to build that reputation of Cornell as an entrepreneurial powerhouse.
MAX RICHMAN: We get in the raw potatoes. We wash. We cut them up. We do a blanching step, and we do a little bit of a drying step to remove some surface moisture. And what you get out on the back side is just a poly bag that looks like raw, cut potato ready to go.
KEVIN SULLIVAN: A lot of their initial commercial experimentation of their product was done in the Luna kitchens. And they'd pop down with two or three different samples. And we'd cook them all up and then taste them and see what went right and what went wrong. And I've just kind of been letting them use my fryer [LAUGHS] back before they had their own.
Typically, fresh-cut style fries require a lot of labor. You have to soak them. You have to pre-fry them. And the final quality product is highly variable depending on the moisture in the potatoes and all those things. With the Farther Farms shelf-stable fries, a lot of those variables are removed. You get the fresh-cut fry bagged, shelf-stable, ready to cook. It's done in two to three minutes with an excellent performance on crispiness as well as longevity post cook.
MIKE ANNUNZIATA: Our technology is built on 30 or 40 years of foundational research in dense phase carbon dioxide, but we are now taking what we think is a quantum leap in the application of that to the shelf-life extension of any solid and liquid foods. It's great to tell the story of where we were. I think it's really exciting to tell people about where we can go. It's real. Like, we will likely be at 75 employees in two years from a kernel of an idea in a Cornell Lab.
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As graduate students at eLab, Cornell’s startup accelerator, Mike Annunziata and Vipul Saran launched Farther Farms, a Rochester-based firm specializing in shelf-stable food products.