Sara Lee Frozen Bakery opens new test kitchen, innovation center

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Sara Lee Frozen Bakery has opened a 10,000-square-foot research and development innovation center and test kitchen in its Oakbrook Terrace headquarters, the company announced Monday.

The Kitchens of Sara Lee facility will focus on the innovation and expansion of new flavors and product lines. The innovation center features a fully equipped test kitchen, lab, storage and presentation space and is custom designed for customer showcase and co-collaboration.

The marketing and product development teams will work together with twice the amount of resources dedicated to Sara Lee Frozen Bakery’s brands.

“This new collaborative space brings our culinary experts together with our sales and marketing team to accelerate our product innovation, anticipate new trends and create many more irresistible foods for our customers for years to come,” said Craig Bahner, Sara Lee Frozen Bakery CEO.

Newly appointed Research & Development Director Judy Lindsey will lead the team of product innovators and culinary experts, which has doubled in size since Sara Lee Frozen Bakery became an independent company in July.

The opening of The Kitchens of Sara Lee marks the end of a five-month construction project, led by Morgan Harbour Construction, within the building adjacent to Sara Lee Frozen Bakery’s Oakbrook Terrace HQ. Oakbrook based EWP Architects redesigned and optimized the space to create a fully equipped kitchen, lab, storage, freezer and collaborative space to replicate, refine and innovate product offerings in the new facility.

Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, which makes frozen bakery and dessert products under the Sara Lee, Van’s, Chef Pierre and Bistro Collection brands, brought the iconic brand’s headquarters back to DuPage County after it was sold by Tyson Foods in 2018. Tyson picked up the brand in a 2014 acquisition of Hillshire Brands, which was created after the Downers Grove-based Sara Lee Corp. split into two companies in 2012.