Harrisonburg, Virginia-based Farmer Focus has hired Sean McLendon to lead research and development. Farmer Focus is a 100- percent organic and humane-certified chicken company with a mission to protect and promote generational family farms.
McLendon brings more than 25 years of experience in product research and development, innovation, quality control and operations in protein, across fresh and fully cooked food manufacturers. He also has extensive knowledge of marinated proteins and flavor trends honed during his tenure at Lumina Foods, JBS USA and CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, McLendon began his culinary career as a chef and restaurateur, receiving a James Beard nomination as chef/owner of Sean’s American Bistro in 2009.
“As a chef, I have always had the deepest respect for farmers, so working for a company that is committed to the preservation and promotion of generational family farms is incredibly meaningful to me,” said McLendon. “One of the best ways I can honor our farmers and the birds they so carefully raise is to develop products and flavors that bring out the best in each part of the bird. This approach also enables us to reduce waste and further our corporate commitment to sustainability.”
Drawing on his deep understanding of culinary and global flavor trends, McLendon led the development of Farmer Focus’ inaugural organic pre-seasoned product line, which includes Peruvian Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, Chophouse Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, Red Curry Bone-in Skin-on Chicken Thighs, Toasted Lager Half Chicken and Lemon and Cracked Pepper Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast.
Two of the pre-seasoned items have already been recognized as NEXTY Award finalists. Toasted Lager Organic Half Chicken is a finalist for two categories: Mission-Based Product and Meat, Dairy or Animal-Based Product. Red Curry Organic Bone-in Skin-on Chicken Thighs is a finalist for best Organic Food. The NEXTY Awards recognize excellence in the natural products industry, with a focus on elevating impactful brands and products that inspire a healthy, sustainable future.
“In addition to his passion for the Farmer Focus mission, Sean brings an abundance of talent and experience to this critical role,” said Corwin Heatwole, CEO. “Our new line of pre-seasoned chicken is unbelievably delicious and makes it easier than ever for our customers to create memorable meals that support our growing family of farmers.”
Farmer Focus currently partners with more than 73 independent farmers who continuously improve the standards on raising chickens organically and humanely. With the use of Farm I.D., every package of Farmer Focus chicken is 100 percent traceable to the farm where it was raised.
Farmer Focus products are available in 2,500 stores throughout the East Coast and Midwest. The new pre-seasoned line will be available at major retailers like Fresh Direct, Kroger Mid-Atlantic Region, Fresh Thyme, Giant Eagle and online retailers starting this fall.