Cooking Using Organic Parchment with PaperChef’s Scott Miller

May 5, 2014

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to another edition of Green is Good. We’re so honored to have with us today Scott Miller. He’s the CEO of PaperChef. Welcome to Green is Good, Scott Miller. SCOTT MILLER: Thank you, John. I appreciate being here. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Hey Scott, before we get into talking about your great brand, can you please share your story, your journey leading up to PaperChef, you know, how you even got here? SCOTT MILLER: Absolutely. Paper has been in my family since about 1914 so I would be sort of fourth generation and after university, I agreed with my father to do a brief stint in the family company and that sort of, through a few twists and turns, ended up at a company called Specialty Paper Group, which we did an acquisition of in 2008 from the owner. Specialty Paper Group had one product at the time called Chef Select, which was a roll of parchment paper and today, that brand is now called PaperChef and that’s been sort of the last four or five years of my life. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. And for our listeners out there that want to follow along on their iPad or other mobile device or their desktop while the listen to the show, please go to www.paperchef.com. I’m on your beautiful website right now. Talk a little bit about what PaperChef really means and what does it do and how does it compare to other parchment paper companies on the market? SCOTT MILLER: Fantastic. PaperChef was created to advance the art of cooking with parchment but it’s really about a very old tradition in cooking with paper that goes back to French culinary habits over 200 years old and it was really created to advance the knowledge and tradition of that in North American context. As you might know, people have been cooking with aluminum foil here in the United States for years and years and years and we feel that paper is a healthier, more sustainable option and we really created this brand to really kind of advance that and create a diversity of products people could use in terms of cooking with paper. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Let’s talk a little bit about that. What is the recyclability of your products? SCOTT MILLER: One of the things you’ll notice on our parchment rolls is there’s no metal cutting edge on our products. One of the reasons we’ve done that is to a: increase the safety of the actual roll so there’s no chance that children can cut their finger on it but removing that cutting edge has made our product 100 percent recyclable because the entire product; the actual paper, the cord side, and the box is actually a 100 percent organic paper, fiber based material so there’s no separation of materials needed. It’s just one of the additional features of not having that metal cutting edge. JOHN SHEGERIAN: In terms of recyclability, I’m on your website, like I said, and for our listeners it’s www.paperchef.com. Your paper can be recycled seven times or so, compared to, of course, plastic, which is basically very very poorly recyclable. Is that not correct? SCOTT MILLER: Yeah, well the product is recyclable but we recommend that you actually dispose of the product with your food waste. One of the great features of it is that it’s completely biodegradable and compostable so for instance, if you’re running a compost, you can actually dispose the PaperChef products right in your food compost stream so you can put it in communities that separate organic waste. It’s a great additive to that pile of sort of disposal. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So it’s biodegradable, compostable, and all those kind of things. And what, again, is it made of? Just because I never cook with that kind of paper. Can you explain to our listeners what again is it really made out of? SCOTT MILLER: Yes. Absolutely. It’s made out of cellulose fiber so it’s made from pulp, which is tree. All of our papers are FSC certified so they come from, it’s an organization called the Forestry Stewardship Council and that originated out of a partnership with Greenpeace so it’s kind of back to the 1970s about how we managed the forest sustainably in terms of how we plant trees but also in terms of how we manage wildlife and diversity and also the actual biological culture of the forest in terms of what’s planted where and how. All of our paper comes from FSC certified forestry and pulp resources and then it goes through a process of papermaking, which is basically where they lay the pulp out on a long drying process. The paper will start about 90 percent water content and through a long process of drying, basically the water is removed from the pulp and the paper’s what’s left. That’s a simplification but that’s generally the process and then we then take that paper and turn it into rolls, bags, sheets, baking cups, and a variety of products. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You’re FSC certified but you’re also a Rainforest Alliance certified product. SCOTT MILLER: That’s correct, yes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Yeah so talk a little bit about your mission, Scott, to help customers live healthier and more sustainably. SCOTT MILLER: Absolutely. I think the twentieth century produced a lot of unhealthy lifestyle habits across North American society and people today, we feel, are looking for healthier and more connected ways to experience food. They’re also looking for more ways to feel connected to their environment and practice more sustainable lifestyles. We really see parchment paper and PaperChef as sort of a vehicle to energize consumers more in discovering food and we find that when people discover food, they discover more in their community and they discover more of their environment around them and it’s part of a culinary journey so the real mission of PaperChef is to through sort of line of products that make it very easy for the customer to have great culinary results, we aim to sort of equip the consumer to have these results and this experience through our products and that’s really kind of the jest of what PaperChef was created to do. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners out there, from a business perspective, how many competitors do you have in this space? SCOTT MILLER: Absolutely. Reynolds would probably be our biggest competitor. All of our competitors basically typically make aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and a variety of other products. We’re the only one that’s sort of fully focused on parchment paper so we have parchment paper rolls in a variety of sizes, parchment paper sheets, parchment paper cooking bags, and parchment paper baking cups. We have the first line of parchment paper so we’ve actually tried to take parchment paper and customize it for the application. If someone’s doing muffins or cupcakes or trying to cook empa fiat, we’ve actually gotten emails from consumers saying, ‘We’re trying to fold your paper to make a pouch,’ and we said, ‘Well hey, what if we make a parchment paper bag so people can just throw their salmon and their vegetables in their and their seasoning and the work’s done for them?’ JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. We like solutions here on Green is Good. For our listeners out there, where can they buy your great product? Where can they buy across America and across the world your great product, PaperChef? SCOTT MILLER: Absolutely. PaperChef is sold at a variety of quality supermarkets so there’s a good chance that you’ll find our products in your local supermarket. Also, at specialty stores such as Whole Foods, you will find them in a wide variety. They’ll be in two sections of the store – this is important- it will either be in the food wrap area where you buy your aluminum foil and your wax paper and stuff. Our rolls will be there and then in the baking category, where you find ingredients for muffins and cupcakes and stuff, you’ll find our baking cups as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Got it, and for our listeners out there who are just joining us right now, we’re so honored to have with us today, Scott Miller. He’s the CEO of PaperChef and you can look at his great products on his wonderful website, which I’m on right now. It’s www.paperchef.com. Scott, I am on your website and I’m right now, on your recipes sections and I’m actually getting really hungry because I see these amazing recipes for bran and fig muffins and apple cinnamon with red currant and blue birds maple crumb cake. Now wait a second. Who at your company is doing these recipes and how is that working with your brand, interrelating the recipes, which sound amazing, with your brand and getting consumers socialized and excited about your wonderful products. SCOTT MILLER: Actually, that’s a great question. From the very beginning, we’ve been learning about our products from the culinary community. Chefs have been using parchment paper for years and years and years and they’ve come up with the first range of applications and recipes. We’ve actually been able to engage the local community, both the local community in Toronto and across the United States and also to a limited extent, in Europe as well, where we’ve created one on one relationships with chefs. We supply product and we actually schedule a time to sit down with them, cook, eat, talk, discuss recipes, discuss applications, and then what we’ve been able to do is select recipes that each sort of chef has brought forward and then actually give it a full treatment of shooting the food, developing the recipe so where our content typically comes from is from our network of chefs, which is great. We’re learning stuff all the time about our products, about what certain chefs are doing. The other day, somebody showed me scallops wrapped in parchment paper and they were using a hair elastic to close the top. They then put it in a saucepan with white wine and simmer it and it was just incredible but we’re learning stuff every day about it and it’s such a vibrant community of chefs across the world that the possibilities are really endless. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So if the chef’s listening to you right now somewhere in the world and they want to email you one of their favorite recipes using your paper, this could end up on your website? SCOTT MILLER: Absolutely. More than that, we have a team of people that, we love to talk and eat and think about these things as well so it might even end up in a visit. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I want to tell our listeners that I’m reading right now coconut snowball cupcakes. I love the description. This is not your ordinary cupcake. It is a cupcake made for the coconut addict, which would, by the way, be me. This is amazing. These recipes are just fun to read. They’re yummy for your eyes and I’m sure they’re yummy for your tummy as well. We’ve got about four minutes left. Talk a little bit about new products. CEOs not only have to focus on the day to day of running their business but they also have the vision to the vista of what’s out there. What are some of the newest products you’re dreaming up, coming up with in the future? SCOTT MILLER: Absolutely. Recently, we just launched our new portfolio of baking cups so we took our parchment paper and turned it into a baking cup because people were having this challenge of they’d put these muffins in, they’d get them out of the oven and they’d rip off the paper and half the muffin comes with the paper so we wanted to bring the non stick qualities of parchment paper over into a muffin and then the next step we realized, we started spending a lot of time with people cooking muffins and cupcakes. We realized something was happening. It was really becoming an event. People were spending a lot of time decorating. They were investing a lot of time in different flavors, in decoration. It became an event. It became something that was actually a social setting so we wanted to build a baking cup that actually would do justice or would at least give somebody an artisanal platform to sort of build on top of because they had these ugly little cups and these beautiful cupcakes and so we created our Tulip and Lotus product line, which is sort of artisanal cups to allow sort of a baking cup which they can sort of build their creations on top of that and it gives it that artisanal sort of gourmet feel. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow, that sounds great. Anything on the future? Besides the baking cups, what are you dreaming up in terms of the future and are they any out-of-the-box ways to use PaperChef that we haven’t discussed today or are not obvious to our listeners out there? SCOTT MILLER: Absolutely. One of the things I would say is the shocking thing is one of the things consumers come back with is parchment paper is waterproof so traditionally people would think of lining a baking sheet and then placing the food on top. One of the things you can do is actually take the paper, put it right over the top, and the you can actually line a casserole dish or a lasagna dish, anything that you’re doing that requires sort of a deeper dish thing, and line the paper in the container or the bakeware and you put it right in the oven so you build your lasagna on top and when you’re done, you just pull the paper out and then what happens is you have no mess or cleanup at all and you haven’t used any oil sprays or any kind of fat product to basically have that non release. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is amazing and again, for our listeners out there, Scott’s recipe is full of, not only the great recipes that I was enjoying earlier and sharing with our listeners, but also, you have a whole library of videos on how to use your paper and different uses of it and everything else. Your website is so well done. I just have to give you another tip of the hat. We’re down to the last minute or so, Scott. Final thoughts, shameless plugs, this is for you and anything you want to talk about in this last minute. SCOTT MILLER: Well, thanks John. I just wanted to really appreciate the support we get, both from the foodie communities and from our consumer base, and cooking with parchment is really sort of a transformational sense of confidence in the kitchen and I just wanted to reinforce that we are committed to continuing to develop parchment paper products so if people have ideas or things they’d like to see, we are all ears. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Well, that’s wonderful, and for our listeners out there, cook with parchment. It is more sustainable and for our listeners out there that want to learn more about PaperChef, go to www.paperchef.com. As Scott said earlier, Whole Foods and other great stores around the world. Thank you, Scott, for being an inspiring and visionary sustainability entrepreneur. You are truly living proof that green is good.