Eagle-eyed inspection delivers optimal safety assurance for a thriving perogies processor
When people think about perogies, most Canadians will often think about comfort food as it should be—shapely pieces of soft, yummy cooked dough filled to capacity with cheese or potato stuffing.
But they would only be partially correct, according to the folks at Pelmen Foods Ltd., an entrepreneurial, Toronto-based food processor who wants to spread the word that the comfort aspect aside, the growing varieties of different types of perogies available in grocery stores nowadays offer Canadians a whole new breed of authentic, European-style cuisine made from all-natural products.
Known as an old-school Eastern European specialty, perogies are half-circular dumplings of unleavened dough traditionally stuffed with meat, potato, cheese, sauerkraut, spinach or mushrooms, but this highly versatile food can also leave your tastebuds dazzled when made with raspberry, blueberry, peach, plum or any other fruit filling, as Pelman Foods has in fact done for many years— albeit for a fairly limited audience.
“Pan-fried or boiled, served as an entrée, appetizer, snack or a dessert perogies are a tasty and convenient food to eat,” Pelman Foods vice-president Tony Rabinovitch told Canadian Packaging during
a recent visit to his company’s new, 15,000-square-foot facility near the city’s lakeshore.
Along with perogies, Pelmen also specializes in a dish called pelmeni—hence the company name—which is a traditional Russian staple food of dough wrapped dumplings filled with various meats and spices, which can in fact be eaten hot in its broth or as a cold dish after it has been cooked in water, usually with sour-cream.
According to Rabinovitch, who hands-on operates the family-owned food processor, Pelmen Foods employs 15 full-time people to create a total 23 different SKUs (stock-keeping units) of perogies, pelmeni, dumplings, pot stickers, samosas, egg rolls, gyozas, curry puffs and empanadas under its own flagship brand name, as well as for private-label sale across North America.
“For private-label concerns, we have a reputation for being flexible and clientoriented,” reveals Rabinovitch. “We will work closely with our customers and all their stringent requirements with respect to choosing the proper ingredients, formats and packaging—all the while ensuring they get the perfect taste.”
Despite the company’s success making and selling perogies to date, Rabinovitch relates that his family’s involvement in the industry was perhaps due more to luck than to some ingenious business plan or design.
“My father, Jeff, had worked as an electrical engineer for the only bakery in our city of 300,000 people back in Russia, and as such, he learned how to fix all sorts of bakery equipment,” he recalls.
“When we emigrated to Canada back in 1993 and he found himself ‘between employment,’ a family friend who was already making perogies and supplying them to a local deli asked if my father would take over the business for a couple of months, while she took care of some personal interests in Israel,” Rabinovitch recounts.