This was my first Yelp Elite event I've attended, and it was a lot of fun. I went by myself, and the experience was pretty smooth. There wasnt a guide present to speak to the crowd, but the tour is self guided and you get a brochure that explains the creation process.
Anyone can get a FREE tour of the factory, but only a certain time and season you can witness the chili grinding.
HISTORY: Taken from the tour guide book: History: HUY FONG FOODS, INC. Started its humble beginnings in 1980 in a 5,000 sq.ft. building in China Town, Los Angeles. In 1987, it moved into a 68,000 sq.ft. facility in Rosemead, CA. eventually purchasing the old Whamo Facility, 170,000 sq.ft., two-doors down the street for a combined square foota total of 238,000 sq.ft.
The newly build Irwindale facility is 650,000 sq.ft., making it twice as large as the Rosemead faciliies. Although Ground Brreaking for this facility began in 2010, it took a few years to gear up to full production. The CEO and founder of Huy Fong Foods, INC., Mr.David Tran, worked tirelessly and very closely with the contractor in designing the plant so his vision would come alive.
CHILI GRINDING: The Chili harvest occurs not only annually, but seasonally, typically in the fall. Only fresh, red jalapenos hybrid chili peppers are used for making their signature product. During the chili season, they receive truckloads of large vegetable totes full of red chili peppers 6 days a week. These totes are loaded into their custom fabricated stainless-steel dumpers which tilts the totes until there is a steady stream of chili peppers rolling into the hoppers.
Once in the hoppers, the conveyors transport the chili peppers, which had just been picked earlier in the day inside to be washed.
The chili peppers are sorted, washed and rinsed before eventually entering the grinders.
After being ground, the peppers are then piped into their mixers, where salt, vinegar, and two preservatives are added to the grounded peppers to create the basic chili base of their three sauces.
The three different sauces they produce from chili base are: Sriracha, Chili Garlic, and Sambal Oelek.
The fresh chili base then travels to their drum filling station, where it is then filled into their 55-gal. blue drums. Once filled, they are conveyed to their storage area, where they await to be used to make their chili sauces. These chili-filled drums will be depleted before the next chili season.
This station also works in recerse. Thn making of their sauces, the blue drums are transported from their storage area, where the chili from the drum is extracted and sent directly through the piples into the 2nd mixing room.
In this mixing room, additional ingredients are added to the chili base to create each of their 3 sauces. Contrary to belief, their sauces are not cooked nor roasted, and always made from fresh domestic chili peppers and garlic.After the sauces are produced, they are they conveyed directly to their bottling lines.
BOTTLE MAKING: All of our different size bottles start off as PET plastic preform. These preforms are inserted into the blow molding machines, which heat and expands the plastic to the appropriate sizes. There are 9 bottling lines designated for different sauces and sizes, eah with the ability to produce at maximum capacity 18,000 bottles per hour.
Once the bottles are formed, the labels are either silk screened on, such as for their Sriracha Chili Sauce, or pressed on with their labeler.
FILLINGS: After each bottle is labeled, it is sent to be filled with one of their 3 sauces and capped with their signature green caps. It then is sent throuh a heat induction sealer that seals the bptt;e/ The final step is laser coding each bottle with a production doe and a best-before-date.
PACKAGING: The filled bottles are then conveyed to their automatic case erectors, where the carton are formed, the bottles are inserted and the case's edges are glued.
The case then is staged to be packaged by their palletizing robot that precisely configures and stack each case on a pallet. Each size has a different pallet configuration. The pallet will then be taken to their storage warehouse where they await release by the State health department. The hold was imposed on the company after moving to irwindale and not being able to be "grandfathered" into the new regulation.
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