I was thrilled to have a chance to interview Kristen Enright, the Manager of Product Development at Incredible Foods™. One of the behind the scenes scientists who works in the Research & Development lab, she has the inside scoop on all things perfectlyfree®!
Tell us a little about you, your professional background and your professional passions?
I have a background in biochemistry and a love for all things food. I help to create new food products that are fun, delicious and safe for a variety of diets. I’ve been at Incredible Foods™ for five years and enjoy being part of a company that encourages innovation and creativity. I’m interested in finding new functions for traditional food ingredients and in using food waste to develop new products. I’m also the mom of a sweet and silly toddler, Johnny, who shares my love for food.
How does an educational background in biochemistry and biophysical sciences relate to what you do day-to-day?
Foods are made from carbohydrates, fats and proteins, the same building blocks that provide energy and sustain life. By understanding the chemistry of how these molecular building blocks interact with one another on a small scale, we can better understand how they act in the body and in nature. This also allows us to use common ingredients for new purposes and to create new products. For example, instead of using milk and cream from cow dairy products, we use coconut “cream” from the coconut fruit. Coconut cream provides the same fat content and creamy mouthfeel that is found in traditional dairy cream, but is free from lactose and other dairy allergens.
What is a typical day for you at perfectlyfree®?
Every day is so different: some days I’m creating new recipes, some days I’m doing taste tests with kids, other days I’m evaluating the nutrition of our products. Every day, I am learning from my peers, reading about food trends and on the lookout for new products.
The stated mission of perfectlyfree® is: “[We’re] dedicated to the mission of developing allergy-friendly foods that allow individuals and families with dietary restrictions to enjoy safe, delicious experiences.” What a great mission! What drew you to join an allergen-friendly food manufacturing business?
Any opportunity to eat is an opportunity for people to get together, share food and connect. From cooking meals at home to eating snacks on the go, food is best when enjoyed together. And I want everyone to be able to share these experiences, including people with food restrictions. Most allergen-free foods don’t taste very good, so we want to make them better. It’s a fun challenge to deconstruct foods and make them enjoyable and allergen-friendly for the whole family.
What’s been your number one challenge in serving this community thus far?
Making foods that are allergen-free but still have the same full flavors and textures of allergen-full products. For example, eggs add a great richness to foods and help stabilize mixtures. We are always looking for new ingredients that have the same properties as foods with allergens.
What are three things you believe perfectlyfree® consumers should know about the company’s passion and commitment to the food allergy community?
1- We are committed to making big eight allergen-free products so that people can feel safe and confident about their food choices.
2- We want to help provide lots of options for people with food allergies, and fill in any gaps where allergen-free alternatives are missing.
3- We want to make food that is delicious for everyone, so that caregivers can buy an allergen-free food that the whole family will love.
What inspires you when you go to work every day?
Working with a passionate, smart and energetic team. And of course, getting to eat food all day!
What can the perfectlyfree® consumer look forward to in the future?
Our current products are all frozen ice cream alternatives, but in the future, we look forward to making other snackable foods with coconut cream and allergen-free alternatives.
What is one thing you want everyone to know about perfectlyfree®?
We love to hear from our customers. Feedback on flavors, textures and packaging is always appreciated and acted upon. [email protected]
Thank you, Kristen!
About the author
Sloane Miller is a national expert on food allergy management, author of “Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies” (Wiley 2011), and founder & president of Allergic Girl Resources, Inc. Sloane is a regular contributor to the perfectlyfree® blog, aiming to drive awareness and provide resources that empower individuals with food allergies & their families to live joyously.