ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — Food and beverage ingredient supplier Wixon announced Thursday, Feb. 26, the grand opening of its $2 million, 4,200-square-foot Innovation Center for Culinary & Meat Processing in this city just south of Milwaukee.

Andy Hanacek, executive editor of The National Provisioner, attended the festivities, getting an exclusive, in-depth look (among meat industry publications) and the sparkling new center, which will offer Wixon customers the latest in testing, new product development, demonstrations and prototype food products.

Steve Ingham, a representative for Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle, also attended, citing the opening as great news, and that he was happy “to be at a business expansion during economic times like these.”

Peter Gottsacker, Wixon president, announced that the center ushers in a new era for Wixon, also assisting the company to meet the needs of its foodservice customers even better than before.

The culinary portion of the center, headed by Wixon corporate chef Jud McLester, is equipped with a commercial kitchen that replicates foodservice prep areas, as well as a presentation and conference area for product demonstrations and training.

The facility features a pilot meat plant, including a chilled processing room, smokehouse and batch oven, grinders, stuffers, patty-formers, a linear cook line, and a variety of packaging machines. Wixon director of protein development, Ron Ratz, will lead the charge in this portion of the center, which was designed around USDA compliance.

Local officials and media, Wixon employees and community representatives of this city south of Milwaukee were treated to tours and tasty samples of bratwurst and sausage dishes featuring myriad ingredients produced by Wixon.