Soup To Nutz

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In the already overstored, yet centralized area of Marlton, NJ, another player has entered the arena. Rastelli Market Fresh opened its second location on July 22 in a 35,000 square foot section of the former Genuardi site on Rt. 73 North, with much hullabaloo and fanfare. Built by Lynmar, designed by Ignarri Lummis Architects and owned by brothers Tony and Ray Rastelli Jr., the store is truly magnificent. It is upscale-plus, featuring every kind of specialty department imaginable. Upon entering, one can rev up at the java juice counter, or grab a bite at the sushi raw bar. There is a taqueria, not to be mistaken for a Taco Bell, a brick oven for pizza and flatbreads and a hot wok for freshly prepared Asian cuisine. Executive chef Howard Ellis (former chef at Zagara’s) told us that everything is prepared in-house. The prepared foods looked enticing and the fresh meat counter was overflowing with ready-to-cook delicacies. Rastelli has a full scale catering department, features local produce, a bakery, a cheese department, a smattering of grocery (too much) and, surprisingly, a full liquor store and craft beer section. Co-owner Ray Rastelli Jr. told us, “The store employs 186 people and every employee is a foodie with a passion for food.” He noted that customer service is of utmost importance in their stores. Rastelli also hinted at an expansion plan, perhaps four to five more stores in five years. Rastelli Market Fresh has served the South Jersey community for more than 30 years via their store in Deptford, which was recently renovated, and internationally in the foodservice distribution business. Reception at the new location has been good but only time will tell if this latecomer to the chi-chi mile long shopping strip in South Jersey will survive the competition.

The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) has named Michael J. Eardley its new president and chief executive officer. He succeeds my friend Carol Christison, who passed away this past March after leading the association for 31 years.

Eardley will join the IDDBA on August 25 from HEB Grocery Company in San Antonio, TX where he has worked for the past 13 years in various roles with increasing responsibility, becoming the director of deli, cheese and prepared foods in 2009.

Ed Meyer, VP of meat and seafood at Schnuck Markets in St. Louis, MO, and search committee member said, “I’ve known Michael Eardley for a number of years and he has the background and qualifications to take the IDDBA to even greater heights. He’s highly respected in the industry, passionate about the Association, and has the ability and experience to lead the strategic planning process.” A “lifer” in the food industry, Eardley’s career began while he was still in grade school working in the family supermarket. He then spent 29 years working for D&W Food Centers in Grand Rapids, MI. In 2001, HEB Supermarkets hired Eardley to join their team as business development manager for deli, meat and cheese followed by a similar role in foodservice. In his current role, Eardley is responsible for deli procurement and operations and works with multiple teams to deliver a great deli customer experience.

Eardley commented, “I’m looking forward to working with the talented and hard-working IDDBA staff and Board and welcome the opportunity to develop and meet new short- and long-term goals that keep the Association relevant and a vital resource for the industry.” He added, “I’ve been active in the association for a number of years; it’s a great Association in a great industry and I anticipate getting up to speed quickly.”

No stranger to IDDBA, Eardley is a past chairman of the board, and was recognized as a Chairman’s Award winner for his outstanding contributions to the industry and to the Association. He has big shoes to fill but with his pedigree he is more than capable of keeping one of the best trade association’s in the business going strong. So what will the 2015 word of the year be from Mr. Eardley? Find out in Atlanta next June.

Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation hosted a class of 24 university students from the central African nation of Cameroon on July 18 for a tour of their facilities and the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM). The 24 students who attended the tour are currently enrolled in an educational exchange between Saint Joseph’s University and ENAM – Cameroon’s National School of Administration and Magistracy. Agriculture is the backbone of Cameroon’s economy, employing more than 70 percent of the country’s workforce and accounting for 42 percent of GDP. Increasing post-harvest crop utilization is an issue of great importance in Cameroon and according to George Binck, executive VP of Procacci Brothers, the company was thrilled to spend the morning sharing best practices. “Every day here at Procacci Brothers we look for ways to more efficiently deliver great tasting food products to our customers. It was a wonderful opportunity to share some of those learnings with our guests from Cameroon. There’s really no better place than the PWPM to observe the forefront of innovation and quality control in the U.S. produce industry. Every farming operation, let alone every country, faces different challenges, but we know that they’re going to take some of the information that we shared with them and do great things for their country.” During their tour of the fully-refrigerated wholesale produce terminal, the students witnessed the state-of-the-art food storage facilities and the fast-paced supply chain movement that the market embodies. The tour of the facility was led by Dan Kane, market manager of PWPM. “We always enjoy having visitors, but today was a special occasion,” said Kane. “The students were very engaged during the tour. They asked a lot of great questions.” According to Dr. Stephen Porth, associate dean of the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University, the students have diverse educational backgrounds that include areas such as agriculture, law, accounting, economics, hospital administration and civil administration. All 24 students are currently continuing their education in Cameroon and are pursuing graduate level degrees. Their tour of the PWPM with Procacci Brothers is just one of many visits that the students will be making to regionally-located businesses during their 12-day stay in the Philadelphia. “Upon successful completion of the study tour and course, the Cameroonian students will have earned four credits toward an advanced graduate certificate,” said Dr. Porth, “and they will have the option to further their education at Saint Joseph’s University by earning a master’s of business administration.”

With the weather more cooperative than in recent years, the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) held its annual golf outing July 21 at the luscious Suburban Golf Club in Union, NJ. The event was attended by nearly 200 food industry executives representing retailers, manufacturers, brokers and wholesalers from across New Jersey. “The golf outing is our most popular event of the summer and always offers great networking opportunities for food trade and retail executives, and government partners who attend,” said NJFC president Linda Doherty. Attendees enjoyed 18 holes of challenging golf on a course that is almost 100 years old. First place went to Jerry Petersack and Carl Petersack of Pennington Quality Market and Brian Huff of JP Morgan Chase with the scramble low score of 62. Second place went to Marty Heaney, Don Passerelle, Rich Martino and Jason Nunes of Mondelez International with a score of 64. The closest to the pin winners were Mike Casey of Casey Communications and Ann Durante of Key Food Stores. The closest to the line champs were Mary Elizabeth Warner of Quick Chek and Will Magistrelli of Wakefern Food. Lastly, the winners of the longest drive competition were Brian Lundy of Bimbo Bakeries and Joyce Shim of Key Food Stores.

A tip of the hat to To-Jo Mushrooms’ Kevin Delaney who, along with his teammates Anthony D’Amico, Anthony Valdez and Rick Jordan, took first place at the Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament, hosted by the Produce Manufacturers Association in Monterey, CA at the PMA’s 33rd Annual Foodservice Conference. Congrats, Kevin!

Birthday shout-outs for the “get the last rays of sunshine on the beach” month of August go to: Michael Bozzuto, Bozzuto’s; Marty Delinski, Acme Markets; Ed Rogers, L&L Brokerage; Hans Ketels, Kings Food Markets; Alvin Schwartz, LAS Assoc.; Frank Frazier, retired from Cargill; Jim Randazzo, Seafood America; and Jason Heilman, Seltzer’s Smoked Meats. Buon compleanno a tutti!

Quote of the month: “Just jump. The net will follow.” Jeff Coffin, Dave Matthews Band

Maria can be reached at mmaggio@best-met.com