Nothing says “Season’s Greetings” like meat!! Think about it; whether you celebrate your holiday with roast goose or brisket, glazed ham or standing rib roast, usually there’s a large format animal protein at the centerpiece of your holiday table. And, yes, Tofurkeys count too!
In our holiday edition of “Get to Know Your Native Mainer” I interview one half of Native Maine’s Team Meat, Chef Jeff Landry!
Hi, Jeff! Welcome welcome.
Thanks, Jeff. First question: Have you ever been to Round Pond? Why, yes, I’ve been several times! I’ve been to the Anchor Inn Restaurant out there….had lunch there it was delicious. Round Pond is one of my favorite places in Maine.
Fabulous! What’s your job title?
How long have you worked at Native Maine?
4 years, 4 glorious years
How would you describe your job...to a child?
Oh wait, we need to pause so Jeff can answer a protein buyer question for our Operations Director, Ed Dibiase. Ed says an important part of Jeff’s job description is running down into the warehouse to holler...!
Well, explaining my job to a child is like explaining it to the guys in the warehouse sometimes! Okay, seriously, how would I describe my job to the layperson…well, there are several components: Purchasing of product that is already in the marketplace...like conventional items, already processed and customer ready. Then, there’s finding local farmers that want to work with us. I work with them to bring them through the process of working with a distributor, bringing the animal from field to our warehouse. We talk food safety, packaging, cuts, etc. Then, there’s showing all of these great products out to our customers.
What about yelling at the warehouse? Where does that fit in? Ha, funny.
What did you do before you were the protein buyer at Native Maine?
I think the world knows me! I think they know me as THE chef from my many television appearances and radio spots! Yes, yes, Didn’t you have a restaurant: I did. Worked at a few places in Portland? I did. I owned the Farmers Table for 5 years. I ran food operations for Portland Harbor hotel, Cinque Terra, worked at the Harraseekett Inn for a number of years. Had a restaurant earlier in my life in Lewiston called the Seasons Cafe. That’s it! That’s the big ones!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Coffee: that’s the big thing...shaking off the hangover is key!
Seriously, my day starts with looking at email to see what special orders have come in over the course of the evening, then I check inventory levels, finalize orders with vendors. And then...a couple of games of solitare….
All right! And then you’re done...out of here! Well, then I gotta make lunch for most of the crew….Well, true, there’s that. You do that very well.
If you could switch jobs with someone at Native Maine, would you? Who would it be?
I would switch jobs with Dave because there’s no accountability in his area. That’s what Kenny said too! Poor Dave!
No, really, I would not switch my job with anyone. I like my job. That’s the truth.
If you could change one thing about working here what would it be?
Well, we're on the way to creating more warehouse space for the meat category. Once that is done I’ll have a pretty darn good job though it might be nice to have more pictures of meat around my desk. Well, that should be easy enough to take care of…..
What do you like most about your job? The pictures of meat that you’ll be putting up?
Samples! No, seriously, the ability to get on the road to go and visit accounts. Get face to face with customers, get product in front of them, see what they think….
What’s your favorite meme that you’ve created at work?
There’s been so many.... maybe too many....
I’m actually afraid to ask you this one...What’s one thing that nobody here at Native Maine knows about you (that we can put into the blog!)
Well, I’ve sung onstage with several bands. I can believe that! What bands? Well, Ruckus. They bring the microphone to me know when I’m in the audience. What songs? Top 3: Fat Bottom Girls, Queen; Creep, Radio Head and Simple Man, Lynrd Skynrd. How come you didn’t sing at our holiday party? No one asked! But team meat is about to initiate a new program; Serenade and Marinade--where we demo proteins to customers while singing to them.
Is there one thing you want to ask to me….
I wasn’t prepared for that question….Good, I feel like I just dodged a bullet!
Thanks for letting me interview you, Jeff! Go Team Meat!
A Party, a Potluck, and Warm Tidings
Native Maine employees celebrated the holidays in style at the Doubletree Hotel in South Portland. We had great music and food, an awesome magician to entertain us, and, of course, a cornhole tournament! The highlight of the evening was the video montage created by our IT expert Mike Posey celebrating life at Native Maine. Kudos to Troy Andrews, Sasha Philbrick, Kerri Grayson, Denise Bean, and Mike for creating such a wonderful event! This Thursday, we'll celebrate again with our second annual Holiday Potluck! Native Mainers will bring in a dish that they eat during their own holiday celebrations. Last year's potluck was both yummy and eye opening!
Everyone at Native Maine wishes you and your family the best of the holiday season!
Stay warm, stay safe, and enjoy!
Customers' in the News:
On November 8, Native Maine was proud to sponsor SMCC’s A Light on the Point celebration. Featuring renowned chefs from Central Provisions, David’s, Evo, Lolita, Piccolo, Sur Lie and UNION partnering with SMCC students and faculty, the lucky guests enjoyed an unparalleled evening of food and drink. This annual event celebrates the many partners who help Southern Maine Community College students earn college degrees, join the workforce, and become community leaders. This year the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Casco Bay Association was honored for its long-time support of the SMCC culinary students. A Light on the Point raised more than $50,000 in support of SMCC students and Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management programs.
On November 9, Dimillo’s on the Waterfront hosted a benefit dinner designed to help end child hunger in Maine. Chef Melissa Bouchard presented an inspired, six course bourbon & beer-themed dinner to support Full Plates, Full Potential, a non-profit dedicated to ending childhood hunger. Native Maine was privileged to purchase a table to support this great cause.
Holiday Spectaculars Coming up:
Native Maine is excited to sponsor the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s annual winter spectacular, Gardens Aglow! Located in Boothbay Harbor, the Botanical Garden hosts the largest light show in Maine from November 17-December 31. Hundreds of thousands of lights are strung through their upper gardens in a stunning display. In addition to dramatic lighting, visitors can enjoy special food and beverage options in the Kitchen Garden Café and holiday shopping in the Gardens Gift Shop. Grab a friend, enjoy appetizers or a cocktail, and then experience an enchanting evening of festive lights and displays. http://www.mainegardens.org/calendar-events/gardens-aglow/
Native Maine is also proud to sponsor Nonantum Resort’s 8th Annual Fire & Ice event coming up on December 8 & 9. With blazing bonfires, ice bars and sculptures, local food, and live music, Fire & Ice is the perfect ending to Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude! Event proceeds benefit the Education Foundation of the Kennebunks as well as the Arundel and Kennebunkport Emergency Medical Services. Check it out at://www.eventbrite.com/e/fire-ice-2017-tickets-
As you know, Thanksgiving is this week; I figured we should celebrate a vegetable native to the Americas and currently in season: SQUASH! Wait, don’t stop reading! Winter squash has an interesting place in our history. Most of the world’s winter squashes are native to the Americas; there is evidence of its cultivation going back to at least 8,000 B.C in Central Mexico, Peru, and the Eastern United States! Squash, along with dried beans and corn, is a member of the “Three Sisters”; the term Native American farmers gave to the classic form of mixed cropping where plants grow together in a supportive, symbiotic relationship.
The word squash comes from the Narragansett indian word“askutasquash”, which translates to “eaten raw or uncooked.” If you don’t like squash, you are not alone. Narragansett Indians served the hungry pilgrims a chowder of seafood and squash; the finicky Pilgrims didn’t eat it. Instead, after the Indians left, the Pilgrims fed the chowder to their pigs! The pilgrims changed their minds about squash once the long, cold winter set in and they faced starvation; squash soon became a staple of their diet.
More squash facts:
Caramelized Acorn Squash
Put Place oven rack on lowest setting; preheat to 400 degrees.
Place sheet pan in oven to heat.
Wash squash; no need to peel! Cut squash into half and remove seeds. Cut halves into 1” wedges and place in large bowl.
Toss squash with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and hot. Make sure each slice is well coated.
Remove hot sheet pan from oven. Carefully place squash slices on pan in a single layer. Don’t crowd the slices.
Roast 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn each squash slice over; at the same time move the exterior slices in the interior of the pan and vice versa to ensure even browning and caramelization.
Cook for 10 minutes more or until squash slices are cooked through. Eat the squash, peel and all. Yum!
Everyone at Native Maine wishes you and yours
a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Enjoy the squash!
Welcome back, friends!
Portland’s annual food and drink festival, Harvest on the Harbor, celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary last week! The 5 day festival was broken into 6 unique and delicious events highlighting diverse and vibrant parts of the Maine food scene. Foodies travelling from hither and yon took part in sold out events like Sustainable Suppers, Harvest Happy Hour, and Market on the Harbor. In addition to the fine food and drink, each ticket sold benefited Full Plates, Full Potential, a non-profit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in Maine; check out their website at www.fullplates.org. Many of Native Maine’s customers’ donated their time, energy, and culinary skill to support this great cause; kudos to all of you!! As an event sponsor of the festival, Native Maine provided lots of delicious ingredients for many of Maine’s best known chefs. Our fabulous in-house produce decorating team designed and built festive fall harvest displays overflowing with locally harvested vegetables, pumpkins, squashes, and gourds at the entrances to the venues. Hats off to our artistic team: Jeff Kennedy, Lucas Butler, Jeremy Doxsee, Sasha Philbrick, and Troy Andrews!
In other Maine food news last week the “Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association” recognized one of our longtime vendors, Ricker Hill Orchards, as “Producer of the Year” at their annual “Food Means Business” summit in Freeport. Founded in Turner in 1803, Ricker Hill is truly a family business with 3 generations of the family running the farm. Ricker Hill supplies us with apples, cranberries, blueberries and their outstanding cider. 3 years ago they launched a line of hard ciders and opened a tasting room at their farm--well worth a trip to Turner!
In the first of our "Get to Know Your Native Mainer" series, I interview longtime Native Maine employee, Ken Fox
What is your job title? Well, I still don’t know that ...But Bob says Margin Manager or Margin Analyst and/or Bid Analyst. Food Analyst...and more if you want.
Wow, that’s a lot of title! And you make fun of my title! Bob, in case anyone is curious, is our Chief Operations Officer.
How long have you worked at Native Maine? Too long ….17 years total
You’ve had a good run at Native Maine! How would you describe your job to a child? Don’t do it ..run away…okay, actually, I take mathematical problems and solve them to help the company succeed , so that we can stay in business ... this is only a small role within the company... so when you go to a restaurant, they have the best food for you and your family....so it is very important to do your very best in math....because someday you can do the same. I kind of used this with my boys when they were real young!
Wow, I never realized you were so fixated on math! What did you do before this job?
Fedex for 20 years ...anything before that I would have to terminate you !!
Okay, we’ll stay away from that stuff, Kenny. What three words would you use to describe your role?
Accomplishment …...Analyst…...Evaluates…Manages….and Investigates !!
Now, that’s 5 words! Do you realize that? If you could switch jobs with someone at Native Maine, who would it be?
Dave...he is never here...Or Leslie ..so I could be an Ambassador….actually no one ..I actually like what I do
You are fixated on my job title as Local Food Ambassador....If you could change one thing about working here, what would it be?
The people here are actually great ..so it would not be that ...
You are such a company man. What do you like most about your job?
The availability to use my mind everyday ...taking numbers and evaluating them to make the company a success...and the personal satisfaction when it actually works
What’s one thing that nobody here knows about you?
Probably a lot of things, I tend to keep most of my life private….one thing would be that I am a Three Stooges fan...and a fan club member Nyuk , Nyuk , Nyuk.
Like so many other Native Mainers! Which explains a lot about our work atmosphere. What’s one thing you want to ask me? Why do I have to be here? ..no no, wait ..What are you cooking for lunch ...
Oh, I’ll bring something in for you in the next week or so. Thanks, Kenny!
Have a safe and happy halloween everybody! See you next time!
Hi Friends of Native Maine Produce!
Welcome to Local Lore, Native Maine’s new blog dedicated to all things local and more; I'm Leslie Runser (that's me over there on the left), one of the Native Maine chefs! I’ve worked for Native Maine for over 6 years in sales and customer service but mostly as the local and specialty foods buyer. In the weeks to come, I’ll highlight the great variety of Maine and New England Foods available and coming into season, complete with delicious recipes. We’ll celebrate our customer’s milestones and the hot, new dishes appearing on area menus. You’ll read profiles of some of our colorful employees and learn more about the inner workings of Native Maine. I’ll feature the special events that Native Maine supports in your community. Curious about what else we stock besides produce? I'll introduce you to the wide and interesting variety of foods that week stock. In addition, you’ll get updates on new additions to our product list.
Curious? Interested? Ready to learn more about Native Maine and our great products? Let’s get started!
As you no doubt know, we’re in the midst of apple season here in Maine. Native Maine proudly sells Mcintosh, Cortland, and Honeycrisp local apples from Apple Acres Farm in Hiram and Ricker Hill Orchard in Turner. Not familiar with Honeycrisps? This apple variety was released commercially in the 1990s; crunchy, sweet, juicy—their individual cells are 2x as big as other apples and hold 2x the amount of sweet juice! A limited supply of trees has meant less Honeycrisp apples available; those that are out there command a higher price than Macs and Cortlands. However, as more trees are planted, more apples are grown and the price is coming down.
Some Apple Fun Facts
Cook this...Crispy Apple Chips
Apple chips are a crunchy, delicious addition to seasonal salads or a cheese plate, add texture to desserts like apple crisp, and are yummy eaten plain as a snack! They can be seasoned sweet or savory depending on how you’ll use them. Cinnamon and sugar is my go to!
6 Local Native Maine Apples: Mac, Cortland, Honeycrisp
If desired, seasoning of choice: sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, curry powder, or any other powder spice that strikes your fancy!
At Native Maine Produce & Specialty Foods we're working hard to connect our customers with the freshest, quality produce & specialty products available. We believe in supporting New England's vibrant and diverse food system by providing locally grown & processed food items alongside some of the world’s best specialty foods sourced from around the globe.
As one of New England’s leading produce wholesale distributors with 3000+ quality items in stock, our 2000+ New England customers have access to local, regional & hard to find specialty foods delivered frequently at very competitive prices. We are your neighbors; we are the Local You Know.