Soup To Nutz

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Five specialty food retailers from across the U.S. have been named Outstanding Retailers of 2013 by the Specialty Food Association. The awards honor outstanding customer service, product sourcing, merchandising, and a commitment to serving the local community. The winner from our reading area is Shady Maple Farm Market, Lancaster, PA. With roots as a roadside stand in Lancaster, this exceptional supermarket has become a destination for both locals and tourists. The store features an in-house smokehouse which turns out 100 meats, cheeses and fish items each week, a soup and salad department, and on-site bakery. Its Smorgasbord restaurant is a major draw as well. Honorable mentions went to 10 retailers including the Metropolitan Bakery in Philadelphia. The awards will be given out at the Fancy Food Show on July 1. For more information about attending the show, which is back in New York City at the new and improved Javitz Center this year June 30 to July 2, go to www.specialtyfood.com.

John Vena, Inc. is celebrating some significant milestones in the work lives of several members of its staff. Three team members, Kathleen Conway (controller), Sterling Williams (senior selector), and Tom Allen (senior trader) are celebrating 30 years of service to the company in 2013! Ms. Conway began her career as a billing clerk and over the years, her skills and willingness to take on responsibility have elevated her to the highly trusted position of Controller. Mr. Williams’ first position in the Philadelphia Market was unloading trailers and picking up for customers six days a week. He joined Vena’s staff as a selector and has become a key man in the logistics department. Mr. Allen started his produce career in the fruit orchards of South Jersey. He joined the firm in search of steady work and now finds himself among the top fresh produce traders in the region. In addition, two team members are celebrating 20 year anniversaries in 2013. Both Dan Capone and Sal Dolce began their careers in entry level jobs and have become an integral part of the Vena trading team, on call for customers and suppliers around the clock. Continued success at one of the best specialty produce distributors in the business!

From the “betcha didn’t know where they came from” file…are Melitta coffee filters. Created by German housewife Melitta Bentz in 1908, she came up with the revolutionary idea of using paper to filter out unwanted residues when making coffee. She punctured the bottom of a brass pot and lined it with blotting paper taken from the notebook of her oldest son. Perfectly filtered coffee – without bitterness and grounds – dripped out of the bottom. Melitta quickly realized the value of her invention and registered it with the Patent Office in Berlin. On July 8, 1908, Melitta Bentz received a patent registration for her “filter top device lined with filter paper.” The 35-year-old housewife was immediately transformed into a businesswoman and, during the same year of her invention, the company bearing her name was established. Her filter system was the first to successfully remove coffee residue in the brewing process, revolutionizing the way coffee was brewed. Why is this on my radar? Melitta USA, Inc., part of the still privately held Melitta Group in Minden, Germany, has once again revolutionized the coffee business with their entry into the booming single-serve market. UpShot Solution equipment, Italian made of course, is now operating at its state-of-the-art coffee roasting facility in Cherry Hill, NJ. Developed by LBP Manufacturing, Inc., the UpShot Solution features an eco-friendly (composed of 100 percent recyclable polypropylene), single-serve filter that Melitta will fill with coffee. The filter is compatible with Keurig, Inc. and other single-serve brewers and delivers a heightened sensory appeal to the brewing process. Consumers can see and smell their coffee from the moment they open the outer seal because there is a removable capsule complete with another seal and mini filter that goes into the brewing machine. Chris Hillman, vice president of marketing said, “Fifteen percent of consumers own single cup coffee makers. In a few years that number is projected to grow to 40 percent.” He went on to say, “Ours is the only capsule that can make the claim to be 100 percent recyclable.” But in the end, it’s still all about the filter, created by a woman in 1908.

The Eastern Frosted and Refrigerated Foods Association (EFRA) has announced its college scholarship program for 2013. Toward the objective of attracting new talent to the food industry, hundreds of deserving college students receive financial assistance, which further encourages colleges to support training curricula related to the food industry. Scholarships are also available to promising talent within the industry to help advance their careers as well as to the children of member companies. Funds are generously contributed by the EFRA, by corporations and individuals interested in the future of the food industry. EFRA has awarded over $800,000 since the program’s inception. For eligibility requirements and information, contact the EFRA office at (973) 835-1710 or go the EFRA website www.efraweb.org Application deadline is June 30, 2013.

I have a correction to last month’s column: For information about the Neil J. Brassell Family Foundation, please go to www.brassellfoundation.org.

The circle of life continues as we mourn the passing of Alfred Ciccotelli Sr. on May 6 at the age of 86. “Mr. C,” as he was affectionately known, was the founder of Cento Foods. His beginnings were humble; he served his country proudly in WW II, and in 1963 founded Alanric Food Distributors, using a combination of his sons’ names, Alfred Jr. and Rick. Mr. C was a pioneer in the importing and distribution of Italian food products in the Philadelphia region. Alanric evolved into Cento Fine Foods, which today distributes the Cento brand and many other well known brands across the U.S. Mr. C could be found in his office daily and was involved in the day-to-day operations of his company until the time of his death. Indeed, every time I went to the office, he was there, unlit cigar in hand, telling stories and always having something to contribute. Predeceased by his wife Anna and son Alfred Jr., he is survived by his son Rick and his wife Linda; daughter-in-law Barbara; grandchildren Gina and her husband Maurice Christino, Erica, and Alicia; and great grandchildren Maurizio and Valentina Christino. In fact, he attended Valentina’s christening just the day before he passed away and was in great spirits. Mr. C lived a good life, worked hard, enjoyed the casinos but most of all loved and was loved by his family and his friends. I knew him most of my life. He was one of the “old breed” of guys; a man’s man. They don’t make men like him anymore, unfortunately. We’ll miss you, Mr. C. Rest in peace.

Mike Mackin of Schmidt Baking recently had unplanned heart surgery. He is doing very well; still taking it easy and doing physical therapy, but told me recently he can’t wait for things to “get back to normal.” Get well soon, Mike!

Birthday shout-outs for the beautiful month of May go out to: George Endrigian, George’s Shop ‘n Bag; Anthony L. Maglio, Maglio Sausage; Doug Buchanan, Brandywine Marketing; Phil Marfuggi, the Ambriola Company; Jan Gabriel, Paul G. Nester and Co.; Beth Pripstein, Food World and Food Trade News office manager; Lou Rosenthal, retired Food World salesman; and Dick Bestany, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Best-Met Publishing. Buon compleanno a tutti!

Celebrating marital bliss are: Donna and Mark Tarzwell, Ahold USA; and Bill and Diana Schlosky, Utz Snacks. Congratulations!

I would like to send out personal congratulatory wishes to my talented daughter, Rosalie Marfuggi who is graduating from the University of the Arts with a bachelor of music degree. With a bit of luck thrown her way, along with her hard work and dedication, you may be seeing her perform at local and New York jazz venues in the coming months. The Best Is Yet to Come!

Quote of the month:
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” George Carlin