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Danny Wegman Announces CEO Appointment

Danny Wegman announced that his daughter, Colleen Wegman, has been named President and CEO of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., and he will assume the title of Chairman. “I will continue in my role, but now as chairman of the company,” said Danny Wegman. “The time has come to create a structure for the future that will allow us to remain strong, vibrant and family-owned. I have no doubt that our company will be in good hands.”

Colleen Wegman joined Wegmans in 1991 and was named President in 2005 by the late Robert B. Wegman, her grandfather.

Saving Wisconsin Family Dairy Farms, One Premium Cheese at a Time

By Lorrie Baumann

Terry and Paula Homan, husband and wife and Co-Founders of Red Barn Family Farms, think they’ve found a cheesy solution for foundering Wisconsin family dairy farms. Their solution goes like this: find farms where the cows are treated like members of the family, put both cows and kids to work, and then ask members of the public to pay a fair price for premium quality dairy products. It’s a scheme that has worked around the world for generation upon generation, but it’s been faltering recently in the U.S. and in Wisconsin in particular.

Terry Homan grew up on a Wisconsin family farm and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1996. From the vantage point of his veterinary practice at farms across the state, he began noticing that Wisconsin’s small family farms were disappearing.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, there were 9,000 fewer Wisconsin farms with less than a thousand acres in 2012 than there had been just five years earlier in 2007. Many of these farmers simply retired as they aged, but many others left the business because their sweat wasn’t diluting enough of the red ink. The total acreage of Wisconsin farm land dropped by about half a million acres between 2007 and 2012. More recently, the number of Wisconsin farms dropped by 100 and 100,000 acres of farm land were lost during 2015, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.

The volatility of dairy prices has a lot to do with that. In 2007, Wisconsin dairy farmers were getting an average of $19.30 per hundredweight of milk, but in the five years previous to that, the average milk price had topped out at $16.90 in 2004, and in the next five years, they’d drop to $13.10 in 2009 before crawling their way up to $20.30 in 2011 and then sliding back down to $19.40 in 2012, according to USDA statistics for Wisconsin. A hundredweight of milk is about 11.6 gallons, so at $20 per hundredweight, the farmers were getting $1.72 a gallon for their milk, but at $13.10, they were only getting $1.13.

Getting family dairy farmers off the milk price roller coaster that was costing them their farms was going to mean figuring out a way to put more money in their pockets, and that depended on finding retailers and consumers willing to pay a premium price for milk from family farms. The Homans founded Red Barn Family Farms, which is, at its heart, a brand that stands for the notion that consumers looking for food that aligned with their own values might be willing to take the rubber bands off their wallets to get milk with exceptionally good taste, produced by cows living long, healthy bovine lives on real Wisconsin family farms.

To get that milk, they went looking for some family farmers who shared the values underpinning the oath that Terry had taken when he became a veterinarian, when he swore to use his knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources and the promotion of public health. They didn’t have far to go in Wisconsin, where nearly 12 percent of the state’s workforce makes a living in agriculture. “These farms are small. The owning family does the majority of the work handling the milking of the cows,” said Terry. “Personal knowledge of each animal as an individual, and therefore the care of each animal as an individual, is important…. When the same person is caring for that animal, they know the individual traits of each animal, as opposed to every animal being treated as the same widget.”

He offered to pay the farmers a premium for their milk if they followed a few strict rules promoting good animal husbandry, had their farms certified by the American Humane Association and passed laboratory tests for milk quality. “Our goal is never to be negative – to be very positive. Our Red Barn Rules incentivize excellent animal husbandry rather than incentivizing more production,” Terry said. “On one of our farms, during the winter, the cows go outside for exercise during the day, provided it’s not a blizzard. [The farmer] will go out several times a day and open the barn door for the cows that are ready to come in. That’s a day-to-day example of individual care. You know the animal individually, with its individual traits; you will pick up more quickly and easily when something is wrong.”

Once the Homans had a couple of small family farmers signed up and delivering their milk in early 2008, Terry and Paula started going out to supermarkets to offer Dixie-cup samples. It turned out that they were right – consumers were indeed willing to pay more for delicious milk.

This is where cheese starts to wedge its way into the story, because while some consumers were willing to pay a premium for better milk, that was still a niche market, and by midsummer of 2008, the cows in the program were flooding it with an extremely perishable product. For the past several thousand years, cheese has been a known solution to that dilemma.
Wisconsin leads the nation in cheese production, accounting for 26 percent of all U.S. production, so it was no minor coincidence that the Hintz family was making some good cheeses at their Springside Cheese creamery just up the road in Oconto Falls. Springside uses small batch production to make custom orders for Cheddars, Colby, Colby Jack and Monterey Jack cheeses and has several American Cheese Society and U.S. Championship Cheese Contest awards to its credit, including three awards for bandaged Cheddars, the most recent a second-place award in the class from the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

The Hintz family agreed to make Cheddar cheeses from the Red Barn milk for the Homans to sell under their new company’s brand name, and Red Barn Family Farms was in the cheese business. “We started with Cheddars. The bandaged Heritage Weis was the starting point,” Terry said. “We chose that because we think it’s the perfect complement to our family farms, the heritage of the bandaged wheel and the handmade care with which they’re made.”

Since then, the Red Barn Family Farms’ line of Heritage Weis Cheddars, which are bandaged wrapped 13-pound midget wheels, and its Heritage White Cheddars, which are made from the same recipe in 40-pound blocks, have won 16 awards in the past six years at the U.S. Cheese Championship and the World Cheese Championships. “In 2012 at the World Cheese Championship, our bandaged Cheddars actually swept the category for bandaged Cheddars,” Terry said.

EdunCheeseBlockWith that success, the Homans asked John Jaeggi at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Dairy Research to suggest another cheese for the Red Barn milk. “He suggested New Zealand Cheddar as a model for the Red Barn,” Terry said. “That style lets the natural grass flavors come through the Cheddar. We agreed that was a perfect fit.” New Zealand’s prized Cheddar cheeses are typically made from unpasteurized milk from grass-fed cows, with flavors produced by a particular cocktail of local lactobacilli cultures, and coagulated with animal rennet. Once the Center for Dairy Research had developed a recipe for the cheese that was to be called Edun White Cheddar, the Homans asked Jon Metzig to make it for them at Willow Creek Creamery.

Metzig is a fourth-generation cheesemaker who grew up working at his family’s cheese plant and eventually became the youngest Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker in the state’s history. Jointly sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, the University of Wisconsin’s Extension Service and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program requires its applicants to have held a Wisconsin cheesemaker license for a minimum of 10 years before they can qualify to embark on a three-year training program and apprenticeship that ends in a rigorous written examination, and finally, certification as a Master Cheesemaker for a particular variety of cheese. Applicants may certify in only two types of cheese each time they go through the program. Jon Metzig is certified as a Master Cheesemaker for Cheddar and Colby cheeses. He makes Edun in 40-pound blocks for Red Barns on demand as the orders for the cheese come in. “We schedule that as needed on a per month basis. Sometimes in the busy season, there might be several days,” Terry said. “It depends on our orders and his schedule. We accommodate each other’s needs.”

CupolaApetite_FLAT for webThen the Homans went back to the Center for Dairy Research with a request for a recipe for a unique American cheese. The result was Cupola, which has the sweet caramel flavor of a Gouda at the front, followed by the long tangy finish of a Parmesan. It’s often thought to resemble a Piave, a classic Italian cow milk cheese with a Protected Designation of Origin near the Piave River in the Dolomites region. “Cupola is just a really versatile cheese. It’s great with a glass of wine, but you can grate it,” said Paula. “It melts beautifully.”

For this cheese, the Homans asked Katie Fuhrmann, the Head Cheesemaker at her family’s LaClare Farms, to lend her skills. A goat dairy, La Clare Farms is currently best known for its Standard Market Cave Aged Chandoka, a mixed milk cheese in the style of a New Zealand Cheddar, made by Fuhrmann at LaClare Farms and aged in the caves at the Standard Market in Illinois. Standard Market Cave Aged Chandoka won the first place award for American Originals at the 2015 American Cheese Society Judging and Competition and then went on to tie for second place in the Best of Show category.

Le Rouge2_103406 for webMost recently, Red Barn brought out a Monterey Jack in 2016 that’s made by the Hintz family at Springside, and then went back to Metzig to make Le Rouge, which was introduced in limited release in 2016. It’s a washed-rind alpine-style cheese with a reddish-orange edible rind made from an original recipe and aged eight to nine months before sale. “When you taste it, it’s reminiscent of a French Comte,” Terry said. “It hearkens back to the traditions of our Red Barn Family Farms.”

Five Reasons to Put Anuga on Your Calendars

Anuga, the world’s leading food fair for the retail trade and the foodservice and catering markets, will take place October 7-11, 2017, at Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany. Here are five reasons to attend.

  1. The 2015 expo attracted nearly 160,000 trade visitors from 192 countries. Event organizers anticipate breaking this record in 2017, as Cologne continues to attract buyers and sellers from all countries around the world. That’s because Anuga has become the benchmark for all food trade fairs worldwide in terms of both quality and quantity.
  2. This biennial event is a central business and communications platform for all players involved in the development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sale of food and beverage.
  3. Anuga is where new products make their debut to complement today’s and tomorrow’s trends.
  4. Anuga prides itself on being 10 trade shows under one roof. This design is a well-arranged layout divided up into themed areas, which makes it easy to focus and get work done. The halls are: 1) Bread & Bakery, 2) Chilled & Fresh Food, 3) Culinary Concepts, 4) Dairy, 5) Drinks, 6) Fine Food, 7) Frozen Food, 8) Meat, 9) Hot Beverages and 10) Organic.
  5. Anuga creates trend platforms before the exhibition to make it easy to find exhibitors, participate in educational programs and attend special events that are important to your business. For the 2015 expo, these platforms included: Fair Trade, Gourmet, Halal, Health/Functional Foods, Ingredients, Kosher, Organic, Private Label, Vegan and Vegetarian.

Mark your calendar for the 34th Anuga taking place October 7-11, 2017. For more information, visit www.anuga.com.

Sargento Foods Introduces Sweet Balanced Breaks Snacks

Sargento Foods is giving cheese lovers a balanced way to satisfy their sweet tooth with the release of Sweet Balanced Breaks® Snacks. This new product combines the savory flavors of creamy, natural cheese with sweet ingredients like dried fruits and dark chocolate.

SARGENTO cropSweet Balanced Breaks Snacks add to the wide range of Sargento® cheese snacks. The four Sweet Balanced Breaks Snack varieties feature 5-7 grams of protein and fewer than 200 calories per serving.

“We have been thrilled with the response to Balanced Breaks Snacks, and we wanted to give our loyal fans even more variety and convenience in their snacks,” said Ryan Hemsing, Director of Marketing for the Sargento Foods Consumer Products Division. “The Sweet Balanced Breaks line lets people embrace their sweet side with the perfect balance of indulgence and real goodness.”

The tempting new combinations are:

  • Natural Cheddar Cheese, Raisins, Sea-Salted Roasted Almonds and Greek Yogurt-Flavored Drops
  • Monterey Jack Natural Cheese, Dried Cranberries, Banana Chips and Dark Chocolate Chunks
  • Natural Cheddar Cheese, Raspberry Flavored Dried Cranberries, Graham Crackers and Milk Chocolate Chunks
  • Monterey Jack Natural Cheese, Dried Cranberries and Dark Chocolate-Coated Peanuts

Sargento Sweet Balanced Breaks Snacks are available in packages of three 1.5-ounce snacks for a suggested retail price of $3.69. They can be found at retailers nationwide in the dairy aisle. For more information and product availability, visit www.sargento.com.

William Flynn Named CFO of World Finer Foods

World Finer Foods (WFF) has chosen William Flynn, a senior executive with more than 20 years of experience leading global finance teams, as its Chief Financial Officer, according to company President and CEO Susan Guerin.

This latest addition to World Finer Foods reinforces the company’s commitment to bringing together an award-winning team of exceptionally talented professionals and industry experts, offering unparalleled expertise in brand management, sales, marketing, finance, distribution and logistics.

Flynn joins World Finer Foods after 12 years at Sharp Americas, first as vice president and controller, and for the last seven years as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Prior to Sharp, Flynn was international controller at AT&T managing day-to-day accounting operations and a worldwide staff.

“William brings to World Finer Foods tremendous leadership and management qualities, a track record of smart financial oversight for two global companies and an eagerness to tackle the unique financial operations of WFF,” said Guerin. “His expertise will certainly be of value in managing a global business such as ours and we are delighted to have him join our leadership team.”

“World Finer Foods is well positioned in its market and has a product portfolio that aligns nicely with evolving food purchasing and consumption habits,” said Flynn. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to drive operational efficiencies throughout WFF and have a positive impact on the financial performance of the business.”

Flynn is a certified public accountant with a master’s degree in controllership from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from Rutgers University.

Farmer-Owned Co-op Land O’Lakes, Inc. Acquires Vermont Creamery

Vermont Creamery Co-Founders Bob Reese and Allison Hooper and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski announced today that their businesses have joined forces. Vermont Creamery will become an independently operated subsidiary of Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes. It will continue to produce its award-winning fresh and aged goat cheeses, cultured butter and fresh dairy at the creamery in Websterville, Vermont.

“We have always taken seriously our commitment to our farmers, employees and Vermont’s working landscape—these values are at the core of our decision to sell the business,” said co-Founder Allison Hooper. “As we experience unprecedented growth, we need a partner who can bring the resources and expertise necessary to help us realize our vision and the potential of our business.”

“We purchased Vermont Creamery and welcome them to the Land O’Lakes family because we love their brand and would like to help bring it to even more people,” said Chris Policinski, Land O’Lakes President and CEO. “We share a value-added, branded approach to marketing our products, a meaningful respect for our customers and deeply rooted rural values.”

Hooper and Reese, who founded the business in 1984, say Land O’Lakes is the ideal new owner. A farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative, Land O’Lakes has been in operation for more than 95 years. Widely known for its iconic butter brand, it is a diverse business that also includes Purina Animal Nutrition and WinField United. At its core, Land O’Lakes is driven by agricultural products that return value to farmers and fulfill its purpose of feeding human progress.

“Vermont Creamery’s heritage mirrors our own here at Land O’Lakes—a company founded by people who care about bringing the highest quality products from farm to fork,” said Beth Ford, Land O’Lakes group Executive Vice President and COO. “We are excited about the culture of product innovation they have built in addition to the category itself and the opportunities for even more expansion.”

“After years of thoughtful planning and a rigorous selection process, we are confident that we have found the best steward of our business, values and people in Land O’Lakes. We are both respected dairy brands with deep connections to farmers and an unyielding commitment to quality and innovation. We look forward to this opportunity to tell our story more broadly and increase access to our high-quality dairy products,” co-Founder Bob Reese added.

Reese and Hooper will serve as trusted advisors and brand ambassadors for the business. President Adeline Druart and the leadership team will remain in place as will all employees of the business. Ayers Brook Goat Dairy is not included in the transaction. The Hooper family will retain ownership of the farm, which will continue to serve as a key supplier to the creamery and catalyst for the growth of the goat dairy industry in Vermont. The terms of the acquisition will not be disclosed.

Adeline Druart, President of Vermont Creamery remarked, “Bob and Allison have been such incredible entrepreneurs building Vermont Creamery’s success and mentoring the team on their vision and values for the business. Partnering with Land O’Lakes adds the next key ingredients for our growth: additional resources and dairy expertise. This transaction positions Vermont Creamery for continued success in the future.”

Founded at a time when Americans rarely ate goat cheese, Vermont Creamery has grown over nearly 35 years to be a premiere producer of fresh and aged goat cheese, crème fraîche and cultured butter. With hundreds of awards and burgeoning national distribution, Vermont Creamery is respected as a pioneer of the artisan cheesemaking movement in America. In 2014, Vermont Creamery was the second cheesemaker in the world to earn B Corp certification and will maintain this certification and commitment to tits community, employees and environment under new ownership.

Jasper Hill Farm’s Soft Cheese Line Sweeps U.S. Cheese Championship

Jasper Hill cheeses have won multiple ribbons at the 2017 US Championship Cheese Contest, a biennial event that took place at Lambeau Field (home of the Green Bay Packers) in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This event is the largest cheese competition in the US, drawing entries from across the industry.

The competition was steep this year, with a record 2,303 entries of cheese, butter and yogurt, submitted by cheesemakers from 33 states, for a combined weight of 37,000 pounds. Wisconsin had the most entries by state, but Vermont was in the top five (alongside New York, California and Idaho). Forty eight judges oversaw the 101 categories.

In the Smear Ripened Soft Cheese category, the top four winners were Jasper Hill originals or Jasper Hill collaborations. Jasper Hill also took home a best of class award in the Brie & Camembert category as well as a best of class in Open Class: Soft Ripened Cheese.

For Smear Ripened Soft Cheese, the results were:

BEST OF CLASS: Willoughby, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.70
2nd AWARD: Greensward, Murray’s Cheese & Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.65
3rd AWARD: Oma, von Trapp Farmstead Cheese & Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.60
4th PLACE: Winnimere, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.40.

For Brie & Camembert, the results were:

BEST OF CLASS: Moses Sleeper, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.40. The Moses Sleeper also made the list for Top 20 Finalists.

For Open Class: Soft Ripened Cheese, the results were:

BEST OF CLASS: Harbison, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.75

More about the winning cheeses

Moses Sleeper is an approachable and nuanced brie-style cheese. Beneath its thin, bloomy rind lies a gooey, milky core showing a complex array of flavors at peak ripeness: cauliflower, crème fraîche, and toasted nuts. The cheese’s historic namesake, Moses Sleeper, and his compatriot, Constant Bliss, were Revolutionary War scouts killed while defending a blockhouse along the Northeast Kingdom’s legendary Bayley Hazen Military Road.

Winnimere is a take on Jura Mountain classics like Vacherin Mont d’Or or Fösterkäse. In keeping with this tradition, this decadent cheese is made only during winter months when Jasper Hill’s herd of Ayrshire cows are enjoying a rich ration of dry hay. Young cheeses are wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s flexible inner bark layer, harvested from Jasper Hill Farm’s woodlands. During aging, the cheese is washed in a cultured salt brine to help even rind development. At peak ripeness, this cheese is spoonably soft and tastes of bacon, sweet cream, and spruce.

Oma is an American original, made by Sebastian von Trapp on his family’s dairy farm in Waitsfield, Vermont. An approachable washed-rind, tomme-style cheese, Oma is made from the unpasteurized, organic milk of the von Trapp’s primarily Jersey breed cows. Oma balances pungent and sweet flavors with aromas of roasted nuts, cured meat and cultured butter. The paste is soft, almost pudding-like, but never runny. The thin, orange rind, often overlaid with white flora, is an earthy foil to the richness of the paste.

Harbison is named for Anne Harbison, affectionately known as the grandmother of Greensboro. Harbison is a soft-ripened cheese with a rustic, bloomy rind. Young cheeses are wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s inner bark layer, harvested from the woodlands of Jasper Hill. The spoonable texture begins to develop in the Jasper Hill vaults, though the paste continues to soften on the way to market. Harbison is woodsy and sweet, balanced with lemon, mustard, and vegetal flavors.

Greensward is made by Jasper Hill Creamery, using a Harbison-based recipe. Fresh cheeses are then shipped to the caves of Murray’s Cheese where they are ripened and packaged for sale.

Steve Millard, Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Operations for Murray’s Cheese, has been driving this collaborative effort since the cheese’s inception. “I have been truly blessed by the opportunity to visit Jasper Hill every couple months and reconnect with my friends to the north,” he said. “Our collaboration with Jasper Hill on Greensward started as a special project for 11 Madison [restaurant] and has grown into an award-winning cheese that is sold in our stores nationwide. In Greensward we have the perfect match of superb cheesemaking coupled with impassioned affinage, both born of a continuous desire to achieve and repeat perfection.”

All of Jasper Hill’s award winning cheeses can be purchased where fine cheeses are sold, at Jasper Hill’s retail counter within the newly constructed Boston Public Market, or from Jasper Hill Farm’s online store. Greensward is only available at select Murray’s Cheese locations.

Sunset Foods Announces Lake Forest Remodel

Sunset Foods is remodeling its Lake Forest, Illinois, location. The remodel demonstrates Sunset’s dedication to providing the Lake Forest community with an extraordinary shopping experience.

“We’re always seeking to innovate and improve,” says John Cortesi, Sunset Foods’ President and CEO. “Coupled with Sunset’s tradition of exemplary customer service, this remodel will allow Sunset to create a shopping environment that truly stands out… we’re thrilled to continue to invest in this location and the larger Lake Forest community.”

‘Clean, fun-to-shop stores’ are a key part of Sunset’s mission statement. Each element of the remodel was carefully conceived to enhance the entire shopping experience. Not only will the remodel broaden Sunset’s selection of fresh, local products, it will also expand in-store dining options and emphasize one-of-a-kind offerings. These include:

  • New hot and cold food bars for quick, quality snacking and meals
  • A “just juiced” and fresh smoothie station
  • A cheese island featuring fresh-cut, premium cheeses
  • A smokehouse program that prepares smoked-to-order meats on-site
  • A gourmet sandwich station
  • A wine and craft beer bar
  • A fresh sushi bar
  • An in-store floral shop for custom designs and arrangements

As a convenience to customers, the store will remain open during the remodel, which is slated to begin in early April of 2017. Sunset recognizes that remodels can be challenging. The Sunset team promises to do everything possible to make this a seamless transition.

About Sunset Foods

Sunset Foods is a privately owned neighborhood supermarket dedicated to making grocery shopping a pleasurable experience by providing the finest customer service possible and by offering an outstanding selection (of food, liquor, floral arrangements, and more) at competitive prices. From its modest beginnings in 1937, Sunset has expanded considerably and now employs approximately 900 employees at its stores in Highland Park, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Long Grove and Northbrook. Sunset is committed to giving back to the communities it serves. In addition to exceptional service and a wide variety of foods—including gourmet, ethnic, specialty, and organic items—Sunset also offers its customers a selection of cooking classes and demonstrations, free nutrition store tours, and many other great events.

New Flagship Whole Foods Market for Chicagoland

Novak Construction Company representatives stood proudly next to its Whole Foods partners on March 22 for the unveiling of a new Whole Foods Market at the historic intersection of Ashland-Belmont-Lincoln (3201 N. Ashland Avenue), signaling the return to a bustling corner punctuated by commerce, commuters and community.

The highly anticipated opening featured 44th Ward Alderman, Tom Tunney and Department of Building & Planning Commissioner, David L. Reifman, and Whole Foods Market Regional President, Michael Bashaw. 47th Ward Alderman, Ameya Pawar, also attended alongside Novak leadership, John G. Novak and Michael W. Kanzler.

Noted Novak’s Founder/President, John Novak, “By activating this vacant site with such a long-term tenant commitment, Whole Foods Market enhances the community and accommodates the needs of its residents, in addition to ushering in an era of new activity and new jobs at this location. I am sure this store will inspire a new vitality in this neighborhood – from morning until night. We are very honored to be a part of that.”

Whole FoodsA large portion of the three primary building facades is covered with an innovative LiveWall greenspace that softens the building’s sleek architecture, while providing greenery along the busy pedestrian corridors. The Lobby includes a full-service roastery for Allegro coffee, which is sold at many Chicagoland Whole Foods stores. To enhance customers’ enjoyment, the second-story retail level includes a wine bar, pub, juice bar, arcade, a Wrigley Field nook and a “porch.” Finally, the construction incorporated “SMART Park” for its 300 indoor parking spaces to facilitate the flow and reduce traffic congestion.

The multiple phases of the actual construction presented the chief challenge for the team. With zero lot line with which to work, Project Director Steve Bykowski cited incredible coordination as his team worked on the basement, ground floor and second floor simultaneously. “However, everything transitioned seamlessly and we hit the target opening date.”

An extensive collaboration across a swath of city officials and community members went into this project as well. Key team members of Novak Construction worked with several key constituencies over a one-year period that included Ald. Tunney, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), St. Luke’s Pastor David Abrahamson, the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and the West Lakeview Neighbors Association.

Three Inducted into Frozen Food Hall of Fame

The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) announced that three industry leaders were honored as the recipients of the prestigious Frozen Food Hall of Fame Award during an induction ceremony held at the AFFI Frozen Food Convention (AFFI-CON) on Saturday, March 4, 2017, in San Diego. The 2017 inductees were the late E. Glen Grader, Founder of Albany Frozen Foods; William S. Smittcamp, President and CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods; and Ron Suchecki, retired Vice President of Sales for Ateeco, Inc./Mrs. T’s Pierogies.

“The frozen food industry is one built on innovation. We are proud to honor and celebrate these three gentlemen whose achievements have made the growth and continued success of the industry possible,” said AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor. Members of the Grader, Smittcamp and Suchecki families were in attendance to recognize the hard work and dedication these men have provided to the industry and the leadership roles they have played in AFFI and NFRA.

E. Glen Grader founded Albany Frozen Foods in 1961 growing the business until its sale in 1975 to Seabrook Foods, Inc. Following the sale, Grader held executive positions with Seabrook Foods, Inc., Oxnard Frozen Foods Corp. and Continental Companies. He served as chairman of the board for AFFI in 1986 and retired in 1987. Grader passed away on Aug. 27, 2014.

William S. Smittcamp is President and CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods in Clovis, California, a family-owned grower and processor of frozen fruit. Smittcamp joined the AFFI board of directors in 1988 and was appointed as AFFI Western Frozen Food Convention chair in 1995. In 1997, he served as AFFI chairman of the board and currently serves on the Frozen Food Foundation and AFFI board of directors.

Ron Suchecki served as Vice President of Sales for Ateeco, Inc./Mrs.T’s Pierogies for nearly 27 years retiring in 2015. Suchecki remains active with the Frozen and Refrigerated Association of the North East (FRANE) receiving FRANE’s “Person of the Year” award in 2015. He served as NFRA’s convention chairman from 2005-2009 and continues to serve on the board of directors.

The Frozen Food Hall of Fame was established in 1990 by the Distinguished Order of Zerocrats, an organization of industry members whose purpose is to maintain the tradition of promoting the image and advancement of the frozen food industry. The Hall of Fame Award honors the individuals whose imagination and innovation have ensured the continued growth and success of the frozen food industry.

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