As the market for vegetarian and plant-based options in foodservice operations has grown, so have the ingredient labels for vegetarian products. While many of these products try to imitate meat with expansive labels full of protein supplements and ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, Ruth’s Gourmet has created vegetarian options with homemade recipes. Using Doris Ruth’s family recipes, Ruth’s Gourmet produces clean, simple vegetarian alternatives.
“My mother Doris Ruth, began to make vegetarian food after her and my father became connected with the only blue zone in the United States,” said Ruth’s Gourmet Founder, Bruce Bacon. “A blue zone is an area of the world where people live substantially longer and healthier lives both physically and mentally when compared to the rest of the population. People think that vegetarianism and veganism is a relatively new idea, but it’s not. This group has been advocating that eating style for 150 years, and they are really the root for a lot of these recipes. Through the network of people that my mom met, she was able to learn some of these recipes and with her knowledge of flavor profiles and texture, was able to tweak old recipes and create new ones.”
As for what inspired him to turn his mother’s recipes into a business, Bacon said it was because of taste and the ingredients. “I always had the idea of making my mom’s recipes into a business and the idea really came into fruition as I grew older,” said Bacon. “When I would go to the store and buy vegetarian foods from the available brands, the thought that my mom’s food is better than this always crept into my mind. Not only was my mom’s food better, but the ingredient label was much cleaner. The fact of the matter is anyone can go to the market and buy the ingredients in our product.”
The restaurateur has the convenience of being able to create healthy flavorful menu additions without them having to figure out how to reinvent the wheel. “One of our cornerstone ideals is that we are not trying to imitate meat. What that means is that we can create a product that is simple, has great taste, great texture and is something that people can enjoy,” he said.
As for what Ruth’s Gourmet products include and how they can be used in foodservice operations, Bacon has the answer. “We offer a hamburger patty replacement, as well as a breakfast patty replacement which can be used for a multitude of breakfast options. It is great for breakfast sandwiches, it can be sliced and served as a breakfast wrap or breakfast burrito, and it can also be cubed and put into a gravy mix to be poured over biscuits,” said Bacon. “We also offer a crumble which is used in place of burger and can be added to lasagna or as a topping for pizzas.
Ruth’s popularity with chefs and foodservice professionals across the country is centered around its flagship ball product. “We currently make it in two variations the first being our homestyle original ball,” Bacon continued. “This is designed for chefs to put their own twist on it. Our product is designed to be friendly to flavor infusion, and it can be cooked in many different sauces or flavorings that allow a chef to plate our product along sides that are already apart of their menu. The other item we make in a ball shape is our own sweet and tangy ball, which is made ready to serve using our own in-house barbecue sauce.”
Ruth’s vegetarian line’s flexibility through each daypart has driven its growth with restaurant and hospitality professionals. “For foodservice operations it really depends on the time of day that an operator is trying to serve, to decide what product to use. For breakfast, our breakfast patty is an easy option that has had great success. I personally prefer using our homestyle ball for lunch or dinner, because it is designed to be served with a variety of sides, based on the sauce it is paired with,” Bacon concluded.
For restaurant owners and foodservice operators who are looking to make the switch to clean, homemade, vegetarian products more information on Ruth’s Gourmet can be found at their website.