Founder Tracy Hayward
The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley was founded in 1988 by Tracy Hayward, an entrepreneur whose love of cooking and determination to run a business on her own terms.
Her personal story evolves from a journey that began more than 35 years ago, when she created the business from the back bedroom of her parents’ home. “In 1988, I returned to Southern California from living on the East Coast,” she says. “Everything was up in the air. I had moved back home with my parents and all that I owned was in storage. Fearing the unknown, I was being tested to honor my inner voice. I wrote in journals for insight and inspiration. Then it came to me. I was meant to create purees.”
With a degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Southern California and training in culinary arts at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, France, Hayward was uniquely positioned to research a complex business and create an artisanal food preparation unlike any U.S. product line at the time. She made a leap of faith, using capital from the sale of her home for seed money and turning her parents’ spare bedroom into headquarters. Her grandmother’s wooden card table was both desk and conference table. She launched The Perfect Purée in 1988.
Though she follows in the footsteps of her entrepreneurial father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Hayward’s business acumen is self-taught. For 18 months she immersed herself in industry essentials: distributor networks, suppliers, product development, processing, distribution, equipment, and packaging facilities. Soon, she was test marketing eight flavors. Hayward admits, “I was so busy developing the purees and finding production facilities and suppliers, that when I realized I would have to sell the product myself I became petrified.”
As luck would have it, a produce company rejected her product as a stocked item, but it impressed a sales manager who invited her to go along on a sales visit. “I learned how to locate restaurant kitchens by driving around the back and finding the door next to the dumpster. More times than not it was the back entrance to the kitchen. I learned when not to visit chefs and addressed them with the proper title of ‘Chef.’ After that, I had to learn how to sell my product. I was not the best at sales—too tightly wired at the time to be really good at it.”
Hayward sold her frozen purees out of the back of her “delivery truck,” a Volvo station wagon. She held meetings with powerful stakeholders at her card table. By year seven, The Perfect Purée was profitable. Hayward was making a salary and had employees. During a deep recession that took down many of her compatriots, she forged ahead, undaunted. In 1997, she relocated the company to California’s Edenic wine country, re-establishing it as The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley, LLC.
With a flavor line-up that now boasts more than 40 flavors of premium purees, specialties and blends, The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley enhances the enjoyment of food and beverages for foodservice and culinary professionals around the globe. Chefs, pastry chefs, bakers, bartenders and other culinary masters develop signature gastronomic works of art using its unique flavors such as Prickly Pear, White Peach, Pink Guava, Sweet Hibiscus, Tamarind and Yuzu Luxe Sour. “Our customers are native geniuses. If you were a visual artist, you would want to have your pastels handy. Our reliable purees help them to create, play and make people happy,” Hayward says.
Known worldwide for their superb quality, the products are thoughtfully sourced and sustainably packaged. Their customer base boasts longstanding partnerships with acclaimed fine dining restaurants, elevated fast casual concepts, resorts and hotels, bars, cruise lines and specialty gourmet manufacturers. Today, The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley is the U.S. market share leader in frozen purees and continues to develop new products and loyal customers.