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For the last 15 months, Jenny Rosoff has started most of her mornings with one mission: helping home cooks and entrepreneurs pursue their culinary dreams. In an industrial kitchen built for giants, dwarfed by gallon pots and skillets larger than manhole covers, Rosoff and her staff of 30 at Village Green Foods in Irvine transform recipes into shelf-stable, mass-produced products.

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Village Green Foods has been a behind-the-scenes force in Southern California for 30 years, manufacturing mass quantities of dressings, marinades, spre and soups for large restaurant chains looking to make products ahead of time. In the last year the company received more than new client requests.

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Do they just sweat? Do they change color? Do they turn translucent? Do they brown at all? Do they get caramelized? Then she makes the calculations to scale up ā€” switching out cups for quarts and quarts for gallons, tasting at every stage to ensure the large quantities are like the original. Rosoff, 60, with close-cropped hair and a sunny personality, loves moments where she gives her clients a taste of the finished product. At the end of the process, there will be jars and cartons filled with products that are ready to sell at farmers markets, festivals and, possibly, grocery stores.

On a recent Tuesday, a habanero pepper hot sauce from a home cook was slated for production in the cavernous industrial kitchen. The room quickly filled with an aroma that promised a jolt of heat. The sauce was then pureed and simmered for about 90 minutes, after which samples were taken by staff members, who tested for salt levels, pH balance and viscosity. Meanwhile, food packers set up tables with 5-ounce bottles. After the mixture cooled, staff members, wearing masks with respirators pepper fumes can be extremely strongfilled each bottle.

Later in the day, the bottles were prepped for shipping to the client. Village Green Foods is a contract packer. There are dozens of similar companies throughout California, but not all of them are willing to work with small-batch orders from cooks with big dreams. Inquiries started to come in at the start of the pandemic as restaurants and catering companies and other businesses shut down, unemployment skyrocketed, and people were forced to look for new ways to support themselves. Some showed up at Village Green Foods with their favorite recipes.

Then comes the taste test. Before the pandemic, clients were invited into the facility for a tasting, which could take hours. They liked to hang out, chat and suggest adjustments, Jenny Rosoff said. Now these sessions are done via Zoom or, if the client is able, in the Village Green parking lot, where samples are delivered as they sit in their vehicles. But if the initial development is judged a success, production can begin. The rest is up to the client. Nonetheless, many cooks are eager to try.

And once in a while a grocery store chain will take a chance on a new product. Jenny Rosoff tries to be realistic with her clients.

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But some of her pandemic clients have managed to see some success in a relatively short period of time. His menswear line, Monadic, had just launched when the pandemic hit, and retailers were forced to close for a time before entering a cycle of limited reopening and closing. Instead of hunkering down and waiting for things to reopen, Strong, based in San Clemente, took it as a to finally launch his side business, Strongarm Barbeque, a barbecue sauce company.

They went through the research and development process and, after Strong approved the recipe, he put in an order for bottles. He has been able to get his hot sauce in clothing stores and barbershops, in addition to traditional supermarkets. Strong now has a monthly standing order for 40 to 80 gallons of his sauce ā€” to bottles ā€” from Village Green Foods.

And even though retail stores are open and his clothing business has picked back up, what was originally his side business gets equal attention. Village Green Foods, in the meantime, has struggled at times during the last several months. Willie Rosoff estimates that the restaurant side of their business has declined by about half since the pandemic began, and home cooking to order has not made up the difference. Agnes brings witty cooking and a serious cheese counter to Old Pasadena.

Michael Mina to open a plant-forward, health-focused restaurant in Hollywood. Seasons of Preserves: Apple Butter. Pitted: Handling Quinces. All Sections.

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About Us. B2B Publishing. Business Visionaries. Hot Property. Times Events. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. Village Green Foods in Irvine transforms recipes for products like dressings, marinades, spre and soups into shelf-stable, mass-produced products.

By Natalia Gurevich.

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Home cooks, some of whom have created hot sauces, come to Village Green Foods to see their recipes become bottled products. A worker fulfills a customer order at Village Green Foods. More From the Los Angeles Times. Food Agnes brings witty cooking and a serious cheese counter to Old Pasadena. Food Michael Mina to open a plant-forward, health-focused restaurant in Hollywood. Food Seasons of Preserves: Apple Butter. Food Pitted: Handling Quinces.

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