The splatter of oil droplets, the distinctive aroma of potato latkes, Chanukah’s signature dish. Crisp, golden and cooked to delicious perfection. The elusive perfect French fries and hash browns, once only available in restaurants, are now available at home, thanks to Alexia Foods. Founded in 2002 by Chef Alex Dzieduszycki, a Manhattan chef who wanted to provide consumers with the same quality and ingredient sourcing standards as high end restaurants, Alexia quickly grew a loyal following.
When Chef Alex decided to start Alexia Foods, he got together with a few people who had experience in the potato industry and together they created the products from scratch. In the beginning, Chef Alex stood in the potato plant and personally taste-tested products as they traveled down the production line until he perfected his creations and arrived at a final product that fulfilled the criteria for branding as “All Natural”.
Alexia products do not contain any artificial colors, flavors, additives or preservatives, and feature restaurant quality ingredients. “Our vision has always been to create delicious foods that complement consumers’ everyday lives while providing a unique taste experience with every bite,” states Rob Johnson, Alexia’s Senior Brand Manager. “Our recipes are crafted using only the best, premium ingredients and artisan production methods. From finding the best Yukon Gold potatoes to seasoning with sea salt, every detail of Alexia Foods is thoughtfully sourced and blended to ensure a gourmet experience.”
Alexia’s first major retail foray was through the Whole Foods grocery chain, where the products have continued to be a staple in the freezer and in customers’ shopping carts. Whole Foods has a very critical component of their customer base that values kosher certification, along with a solid stronghold on the East Coast, especially the New York Area. This influenced Alexia to seek out kosher certification and place kosher in high esteem. The Alexia potato products, which are part of a larger line of restaurant products, utilize many different ingredients. It is difficult to be efficient in production when ingredients and suppliers are limited, but Alexia’s corporate office knows that kosher is very important to their consumers, so they take the limitations in stride. Kosher certification was the pet project of Alexia’s Operations Manager, who did some investigating in the plants and worked with the OK to find out that a large subset of Alexia products could be kosher certified.
According to Rob Johnson, Alexia was acquired by ConAgra Foods in 2007 and merged with the frozen potato division Lamb Weston. He related, “This acquisition allowed us to expand our capabilities significantly. We still operate as a small company, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, but we can marshal the resources of a food production giant to develop, produce and distribute the highest quality kosher certified products. Alexia staff had many conversations with ConAgra Foods about the move to kosher pareve certification and ConAgra Foods gave its wholehearted support and many technical resources to aid in moving forward.”
Trace McCune, Quality Assurance Manager at ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston and the OK’s primary contact, relates, “Alexia Foods and OK Kosher have had a strong relationship that has grown from the beginning of the brand to present day. The OK has been an important partner in Alexia Foods’ commitment to providing customers with a level of kosher certification that is widely recognized and respected by consumers.”
Rabbi Sholom Ber Hendel, the OK Rabbinic Coordinator for Alexia Foods, is similarly enthusiastic about the OK – Alexia relationship. “It is amazing to see ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston’s respect and commitment to the kosher consumer. For example, when they built the brand new sweet potato processing plant in Delhi, LA, they made sure to have all the kosher requirements addressed from the early stages of design and construction.
In addition, consumers demanded pareve Alexia potato products and Lamb Weston listened. It was a big challenge and took over a year for the Research and Development team to reformulate the recipes to exclude dairy ingredients without affecting taste. Kosher consumers have real buying power and influence and it shows!”
Alexia currently produces in fourteen facilities across America and has products available in 80% of grocery stores nationwide, including Whole Foods, Walmart, Publix, Stop N Shop and most major grocery chains.