Business & Entrepreneurship
Drexel’s Food Lab Gets Spicy with New Collaboration
St. Lucifer Foods Co. LLC. headed by two Philadelphia-based culinary entrepreneurs, created their company’s first spice blend with a broad goal to make anything it seasoned, taste better.
Creators Ted Ebert and Tom Hewell aimed to portray ‘The Glory of Hot’ – and their masterful blend of garlic, salt, vinegar and fiery habanero peppers, achieved just that. But, as a single spice blend, getting adequate space on the grocery shelves became a problem. To build out their spice family, they turned to students in The Drexel Food Lab and Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management to turn up the imagination, testing and creation process of their second spice blend.
“When the collaboration first started in 2015, St. Lucifer had a whole list of ideas about what they wanted for their next spice blend, they wanted something complementary, but that wouldn’t overshadow their original habanero spice blend,” said Food Lab manager, Ally Zeitz. “Through extensive ingredient research and testing, the student’s found their inspiration peaked ultimately with the lime juice powder and with that created a salsa verdé spice, that ultimately evolved into the Jalapeno Table Spice #13 that is now available alongside their original blend.”
The collaboration not only provides an instance of experiential learning – but gives students the opportunity to catch a real-life glimpse into practical food entrepreneurship. Students in the BS Culinary Arts and Food Science program were involved in the creation process as a part of their work with the food lab.
Students tested different powder combinations like ancho chili and Worcestershire while applying varying amounts of garlic and salt to determine the right combination, in which they learned that the creation of a consistent product requires repetition and precision down to a science.
Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D, professor of Culinary Arts, who founded the Drexel Food Lab with Zeitz says, “At Drexel, experiential learning means so much more than co-op. Working on a real product development project and then seeing it hit shelves is a thrill for our students—and for me! Believe it or not, some programs are teaching this subject primarily by textbook. Working with a real client like St. Lucifer Foods adds such a realistic dimension to what the students are learning through formal channels.“
St. Lucifer’s Spice can be found on the tables of a variety popular eateries across Philadelphia such as: Bottle Bar East in Fishtown, Jim’s Steaks on South Street, and Capofitto Pizza in Old City. And while it can be found in retailers around the country, you can find it locally at DiBruno Brothers Markets and all Wegmans Grocery Stores. St. Lucifer will donate 10% of the proceeds of their Jalapeno blend online sales to the Drexel Food Lab, which is available through their website, here. Enter coupon code drexelfood at checkout, and doing so will also give 10 percent off the entire online purchase.
The proceeds will help the Drexel Food Lab continue its mission to solve real-world problems in the areas of recipe development, product development and product ideation through interdisciplinary research. The St. Lucifer’s collaboration is one example of the many working relationships with corporate and non-profit clients surrounding food waste, sustainability and other major industry issues.
More is happening at Drexel’s Food Lab:
Recently, the World Wildlife Fund turned to the Drexel team to help development a series of frozen fish recipes to reduce waste, maintain food safety and encourage more sustainable seafood consumption while maintaining or improving margins for major retailers. Also, the United Health Group approached the Food Lab to unearth additional ways to encourage and build a healthy lifestyle.
To learn more about the Drexel Culinary and Food Science programs click here.