The French ambassador to the United States made an appearance Wednesday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Cuisine Solutions’ new facility in San Antonio, said to be the largest sous vide food manufacturing facility in the world.

The ambassador, Philippe Etienne, said the state-of-the-art plant’s opening marked a “milestone in the relationship between my country and Texas.”

Etienne said the jobs created at the facility would add to the more than 64,000 jobs he said have already been created by French companies in Texas. Cuisine Solutions, though headquartered in Virginia, was founded in France.

Before his remarks, given to a crowd of a few dozen business people associated with the venture, the ambassador was taken on a tour of the facility by a fellow Frenchman, Cuisine Solutions Chairman Stanislas Vilgrain.

Samples of food is prepared for guests at the grand opening of Cuisine Samples of Sous Vide meat is prepared for guests at the grand opening of Cuisine Solutions. Solutions.
Cuisine Solutions provided samples at its ribbon-cutting. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

The event was attended by local officials, including Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3), and Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4), who all spoke before the audience.

“Thank you for choosing San Antonio,” Wolff said of Cuisine Solutions’ decision to locate its plant at Brooks, the mixed-use community on the Southeast Side created in 2001 by state and local officials to redevelop the former Brooks Air Force Base. “We’re delighted to do anything that we can to help you be successful in this area.”

Viagran thanked Cuisine Solutions for hosting her at its plant in Virginia on more than one occasion and said it was there that she “saw clearly that Cuisine Solutions needed to be in San Antonio.”

David Elder, host of KSAT’s “Texas Eats,” announced the speakers, who also included Cuisine Solutions CEO Felipe Hasselmann, Brooks board Chairman Jim Campbell, and Vilgrain.

The 315,000 square foot facility cost an estimated $200 million, according to a release from the company. Construction began in March 2019. The facility was awarded Food Engineering Magazine’s 2021 Sustainable Plant of the Year for incorporating sustainable elements in its design, such as what the company calls the largest community solar panel installation in San Antonio.

Gov. Greg Abbott held a meeting with business leaders at the site in January.

The facility already employs nearly 200 employees, and company leaders say they plan to grow that workforce to more than 500 over the next few years.

The plant will manufacture vacuum-sealed sous vide meals for airlines, grocery stores, and chain restaurants like Starbucks and Panera Bread. Sous vide is process by which food is cooked at a low temperature for hours in a plastic bag or glass jar submerged in water. The company’s website describes its chief scientist as a pioneer of the technique.

Cuisine Solutions operates three facilities in the Washington, D.C., area. It also has plants in France and Thailand.

Waylon Cunningham covered business and technology for the San Antonio Report.