Aaron Dixon Moy Park1 Frozen Food Week


Ice Texture


Interview with a Chef – Moy Park part 1

At Fresh from the Freezer we aim to give you as much insight into the world of frozen food as possible, and so far we’ve taken you from field to fork with frozen peas, been given the low down on lesser known frozen products by blogger Slummy Single Mummy and been inundated with top tips for using frozen from you, the Fresh from the Freezer community.

Next up, we’ve interviewed Aaron Dixon, executive chef from top 10 food company and chicken product specialist Moy Park to give some insight into developing the products you know and love and how they get to your dining table.

Moy Park logoHere’s part one of our chat with him:

Can you give us a brief bio of who you are and what your job entails?

I am the executive chef at Moy Park which means I oversee the culinary team and all of the products we produce for our customers as well as the Moy Park brands.

I joined the business in 2005 from a restaurant background and was the only chef in the business. Since then Moy Park has been on a food journey.

We established the culinary team four years ago and we deal with every customer you could imagine, from the big retailers to discounters, quick service restaurants and eat in restaurants, as well as developing food for the Moy Park Kitchen Range Foods and Albert Van Zoonen Holland brand.

Having moved from the restaurant and hotel trade into my first development job, I truly believe that I’ve found my niche in life and have improved as a chef; it was the best move I’ve ever made.

Aaron Dixon - Moy Park

What does a typical day look like for you?

It’s an old cliché, but no two days are the same in food development. The breadth of the role is so vast that I can easily go from developing a new range for one customer, then jump into a category-led initiative with our team of ten.

There’s always a huge number of projects going on under the Moy Park roof, some shorter new product development projects, as well as longer projects that have been in the pipeline for two to three years, not to mention managing customers and making sure they have everything they need from us.

Where does your inspiration come from?

It’s important that as a development team we constantly keep abreast of current and emerging food trends, which leads me on to one of the most exciting aspects of the job; food tours. Moy Park are incredibly proactive in giving us chefs the opportunity to continue to learn and grow and this includes digging deeper into the food industry to find out what’s coming next.

We regularly look locally in Northern Ireland, but one of our team is in London or across the UK every week, which gives us the opportunity to try new restaurants and eateries to pick up inspiration and see what’s of interest to consumers right now.

There’s also amazing opportunities to travel far and wide across the globe with some of the best chefs in the world, getting behind the scenes and really up close and personal with new cuisines and emerging trends that we can bring back into the work we do here.

As chefs we are expected to know about all cuisines so sharing knowledge is incredibly important and these trips give us the chance to speak to experts in each cuisine. We take part in specialised masterclasses to gain a steer of the history of that cuisine and also where it might be headed in the future.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge rise in popularity of South American food which led me to embark on a three year project travelling to Lima, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, finished in Mexico City last year.  Spending time in these places allows us to bring back pure, first-hand knowledge of the cuisine and its influences and gives us knowledge and inspiration that just can’t be found in a book or on the internet. We’re very fortunate that Moy Park supports this kind of development and first-hand research, plus these trips have given me some of the best experiences of my life.

Can you give us an overview of the process of developing a new product, what are the stages?

There’s a number of ways the development process starts. We have an incredibly strong market insight team who will often spot a gap in the market for a customer to own and develop a new range. We are of course inspired by our food tours and there’s also sometimes an element of ‘me too’ when a customer sees another product launch doing well and they want a piece of it too!Chef interview

The process changes depending on the customer, some have very short turnaround times, some have much lengthier processes to go through. Ideally, we want a product to be approved first time but this rarely happens due to costings and tweaks. There’s a lot of things to consider including allergens, nutrition, particularly the 2017 salt guidelines of 0.63g per 100g of product. Packaging also comes into play as well as upscaling a product from five or ten dishes to 100,000 packs without losing its integrity.

A lot of work goes into the packaging and cooking of the product to make sure it keeps well and cooks to the highest quality for the shopper once they get home. This is where all parts of the business need to work hand in hand to make sure every element comes together to create a successful product that meets our customer’s brief.

Find out more about Aaron and his team, as well as helpful recipes at moyparkchicken.com.


Pink Flakes
Sign up for news, events and competitions