Set the table for your furry friends. Restaurant quality ingredients are making their way into more pets’ meals.
In Toronto, trained chefs are making the switch from preparing human food to creating pet meals. At first glance, this idea takes a lot of people by surprise. The concept may seem gimmicky, but the reasoning behind it is sound.
The past few decades have seen a revolution in how society approaches healthy eating. In the 1990s the Nutrition Baseline & Education Act introduced required nutritional labeling for packaged goods. Over time this expanded to include information like serving sizes, nutritional value, and trans fats. Most recently, restaurants have even had to start listing calories on menu items.
We know that eating healthy leads to longer, happier lives. So regulations for food are becoming increasingly strict and transparent. In the pet food industry, however, this is not the case. Eating healthy is just as important for our pets, but there is no regulating authority for pet food.
The existing pet food industry makes claims with made-up concepts like, “human grade,” food. With misleading information and a lack of transparency, companies are getting away with serving inferior pet foods. Even dog foods claiming to be healthy are often made with filler products and waste ingredients.
The move to chef-made dog food is a reaction to this problem. It’s time that someone took a stand to ensure the quality of food our pets receive. The idea is that by offering a higher quality of pet meals, with full transparency, the public will start to demand a better standard of pet food.
Why Chefs Are Making The Change
It may seem odd that experienced chefs are actively looking to move from human meals to creating gourmet pet food. But it’s giving them an opportunity do something new that they believe in. These chefs are attracted by the challenge, the ability to make a difference, and their love for pets.
The concept of pet meals is to branch away from traditional pet food. Introducing a new category into the pet food market is a big challenge. And it’s one these chefs are excited about!
Creating pet meals isn’t just improving the quality of ingredients, it requires a whole new approach for chefs. They work with pet nutritionists, food scientists and veterinarians to create dishes that offer balanced nutrition and irresistible flavor. Not only are pet chefs trying to make pet food healthier, they want to make sure it’s enjoyed by even the pickiest pet.
Making a Difference
For pet chefs, the creation of pet meals was their opportunity to make a difference. The chefs are holding themselves to the high standard they would like to see the pet food industry take on as a whole.
Short-term they are providing a better alternative for pet food. Long-term they are hoping to spark a revolution, both in educating the public about pet health and in increasing a demand for a higher-quality of pet food.
These Chefs Love Pets
A love for pets is the biggest driving force behind this trend. These chefs love pets. This career change lets them work with dogs and cats, and to work for them. Just like humans, providing better nutrition helps pets lead healthier, happier, and longer lives.
How Chefs Are Changing The Pet Food Industry
In the USA alone, the pet food industry is expected to reach $69.36 billion in 2017. In such a massive market, trying to make any change is an uphill battle. To try and revolutionize pet food, the largest section of the industry, is an even bigger challenge.
Pet meal chefs are taking this challenge on by creating an open and radical change that showcases what the pet food industry could be. If they can’t change how the industry operates from within, perhaps they can change public demand. Here are some of the steps they are taking:
Transparency is one of the most important elements in transforming the pet food industry. Since there is no regulating authority for pet food (only voluntary associations), an open kitchen is the only way to prove the quality and care that chefs put into preparing pet meals.
Chefs are leveraging transparency to raise the demand for accountability. At the same time, they are proving that creating a higher standard of pet food is possible.
Working With Experts
Putting together meals that balance nutrition and flavor is a challenge even for human food. But for an entirely different species, they require outside expertise.
Pet meal chefs work with pet nutritionists and veterinarians to put together meals that create a balanced diet for dogs and cats. This is especially necessary in their work with specialty meals, such as sensitive stomach dishes.
Meeting Public Health Guidelines for Human Food Preparation & Handling
Pet meal chefs are setting an example for the rest of the pet food industry. In addition to better ingredients and better flavors, they’re improving on preparation and handling. With culinary school backgrounds, they are familiar with human food handling and prep guidelines, and they are adhering strictly to them.
Achieving this goal means that pet meals cannot be sold in pet stores. This is because the storage and handling in pet stores do not meet health guidelines. Instead, chefs flash freeze their fresh cooked meals to preserve taste and nutritional value as well as better enable safe shipping across the country.
Rethinking Your Pet’s Nutrition
For years, the only way to be sure about what you were getting from your pet food was to make it yourself. With an influx of talented chefs moving into the pet food industry, this is no longer the case.
So why are chefs switching to creating pet food? To spark a revolution in the quality, preparation, and handling of pet food. Chefs have proven that the pet food industry can do better. By rethinking pet nutrition we can band together and demand a higher standard for our fur family.
About the author: Kristin Matthews is a co-founder of Tom&Sawyer, a company built to offer better pet nutrition. Chef Trish, is an experienced chef charged with leading the pet food revolution. You can follow Tom&Sawyer on social media @tomandsawyer