It Starts With an Idea – Manufacturing Wegmans Brand Soups, Sauces, and Marinades

Paul, Steve, Kurt, and Andy standing together smiling in test kitchen wearing Wegmans polos
Paul Fiorica, Steve Goodman, Chef Kurt Kulzer, and Andy Goin in the CIC test kitchen

Chances are you have one of these Wegmans Brand products in your pantry or refrigerator – maybe it’s a marinated meat waiting to be grilled, cook-in-bag chicken cacciatore, or everyone’s favorite, queso – but you may not know where it came from or how it even came to be. Simply put, it started with an idea, an idea shared with the leadership team at the Wegmans Culinary Innovation Center (CIC). 

With more than 100 employees, the CIC in Rochester, New York, is responsible for creating a wide range of products, including whipped mashed potatoes, queso, cook-in-bag meals, marinated proteins, soups, sauces, and more. 

The CIC’s leadership team – Plant Manager Steve Goodman, Operations Manager Paul Fiorica, Manufacturing Business Development Merchant Andy Goin, and Research and Development Executive Chef Kurt Kulzer – collaborate to bring these ideas to reality. They recently sat down to talk about what they do at the CIC and why it matters to our people and our customers.  

“We welcome input from various sources, such as family, friends, colleagues, customers, Wegmans merchants, and even CIC employees,” says Chef Kulzer who plays a pivotal role in product development. “By taking these ideas and testing them on a smaller scale, I ensure they can be successfully mass-produced without compromising quality and flavor.” 

An example of this innovative approach is the cook-in-bag options, like chicken cacciatore, where the CIC takes Chef’s recipe, scales it up, prepares the chicken, adds the sauce and vegetables, and seals it all in a unique oven-safe bag for a delicious meal without the mess. 

Steve Goodman says everything they do, they do with the customer in mind. “We want them to enjoy not just the food, but the preparation of it as well,” says Goodman. “Our people are committed to helping our customers put a delicious, easy, and affordable meal on the table with products they can’t get anywhere else.”  

Once a recipe is perfected and ready to scale up, CIC employees begin measuring, pouring, cooking, and packaging the items to be sent to the distribution centers and then on to store shelves.  

“Our people are committed to providing the very best to our customers,” says Fiorica, who oversees plant operations. “From measuring seasonings, to cutting vegetables, to perfectly coating every piece of chicken in marinade, to packaging every item, I make sure our people have what they need to be successful, and everything runs smoothly.”  

According to Andy Goin, who works closely with our merchants to gather ideas and feedback, having a dedicated innovation center like this allows Wegmans to continuously develop and improve our Wegmans Brand products, meeting the preferences and demands of our customers.  

“The collaboration we have with our merchants is a testament to Wegmans’ commitment to providing high-quality and innovative products,” says Goin. “Our merchants are responsible for knowing what our customers want and showing them what’s possible. Then we get to work together to make that idea a reality.”  

With a focus on continuous improvement and customer satisfaction, the CIC continues to develop Wegmans Brand products that make cooking easy, fun, and delicious.

Beyond the Aisle

Going “beyond the aisle” allows us to dig deeper into stories that highlight our people, our products, and our community in a whole new way.  

Listen to the conversation Senior Public Relations Coordinator Mandee Puleo had with the leadership team about what it takes to create some of your favorite Wegmans Brand products.

Chef Kurt grills chicken in test kitchen.
Wegmans employees dressed in white coats, gloves, goggles, and hairnets, holding bins of food to be added to soups.
Central kitchen preparing and measuring items for soup.