Puratos announced the opening of its newest Innovation Center in the up-and-coming Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago with a grand opening hosted on October 22, 2019. The company invested $1.5 million into this new 6,700-square-foot facility, Puratos’ sixth innovation center in the United States. Puratos operates 88 such Innovation Centers globally to help reach customers in the more than 100 countries it serves and to spark creativity and innovation among commercial bakery, patisserie and chocolate makers.

This new facility will welcome professionals from any size operation, from individual artisans and entrepreneurs to industrial manufacturers or retail operations, who are interested in honing their skills. Specialized training enables participants to improve a current product range, develop new recipes or benchmark products compared to their competition.

The innovation labs are outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment such as MIWE ovens, Rondo sheeters, spiral mixers and Koma retarders. The patisserie section includes a Koma blast freezer and chocolate tempering machines. The entire facility is temperature- and humidity-controlled.

Each of the centers Puratos operates globally contains relatively similar equipment. This allows bakers from around the world access and availability to the most modern methods of baking production, while using regional flavors, preferences, spices and ingredients as a springboard for recipe and product development.

The newest facility in Chicago is located in a renovated, historic building that once serviced the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. Puratos’ objective was to preserve the original character of the building while maintaining the highest level of hygienic standards in the demonstration areas. The original architecture – soaring ceilings and light, airy feel lent by banks of windows – marks it with unique features among the Innovation Centers Puratos operates in the United States.

Through the center, bakers also gain access to the Sourdough Library, a unique collection of natural ferments representing sourdough flavors from around the world, collected by Puratos. The company aims to preserve the biodiversity of leavening agents and promote the use of sourdough among bakers. 

Another program Puratos has implemented is its Cacao-Trace program. An artistic canvas in the new Chicago center illustrates the cacao cycle and the benefits of sustainability. Cacao-Trace offers professionals the only sustainable cocoa sourcing program that uses fermentation instead of bulk blending to maximize chocolate taste development. Years of research yielded a process that marks the difference between an average or a superior quality bean. The Cacao Trace program implements an agroforestry model in a community-based approach to cacao farming that is designed to help reduce Puratos’ carbon footprint while at the same time benefiting the cacao farmer.    

“Local is in our corporate DNA,” says Andy Brimacombe, president Puratos USA. “Not only do we care about the local farmers like the cacao growers who produce our ingredients, we cater to the local concerns, concepts and creativity of our business partners. We’re looking forward to paying homage to Midwestern cuisine and taste preferences through this centrally-located, Chicago-based innovation center, and we’re excited to witness the concepts that spring forth.”