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Watercooler Fodder: More News

Independent and family-owned foodservice distributor Upper Lakes Foods opened a 100,000-square-foot distribution center in Wisconsin, adding more than 70 jobs to the Janesville area, and bringing its total workforce up to 380.

The grand opening event will take place on March 27 from 10 a.m.  to 3 p.m. at the new facility, 4298 Capital Circle Drive, Janesville. Tours will be offered starting at 1 p.m., according to Craig Ryan, general manager of ULF Janesville.

Established in 1967, Upper Lakes Foods is a wholesale food distributor that services independent restaurants, healthcare, schools and chain restaurants in the Upper Midwest. It is a member of UniPro Foodservice, a foodservice distribution cooperative. In addition to Janesville, the company has two locations in Minnesota: Cloquet and Northfield.


Sysco’s 2018 Culinary Expo will be at the RiverCentre in St. Paul on March 13. This year's show floor opens at 10 a.m. and will feature Cutting Edge Solutions’ creative trends presented by Sysco Minnesota's Culinary Team, Buckhead Seafood & Meats display, mobile ordering and 200-plus food and equipment suppliers. 


US Foods Food Lovers’ Spring Showcase & Workshop will be held Thursday, March 8, at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. Workshops include utilizing your website to maximize sales and meeting customers’ demand for sustainable foods. To reserve a spot, email Katie.pawelk@usfoods.com. 


We’re a little late with this news, but if you’re wondering why Duane Pfleger isn’t taking your phone calls over at Bix Produce, it’s because he retired as Bix’s president at the end of 2017. His replacement, Mike Bradley, has been with the company almost five years, the first four of which were as vice president of operations. Pfleger had a long and rewarding career. “After four years in the restaurant business, 19 years in the dairy business and now another 19 years in the produce business, it is time to spend some quality time with my wife of 40 years, my three daughters, three wonderful sons-in-law and eight grandchildren,” he said. Pfleger admits the food business is both demanding and rewarding, and while it is enjoyable (most of the time), it was time to pass the baton to Bradley, who he had been training as his replacement for the past six months. 


The Board of Directors of Minnesota Farmers Union elected new officers at is February 17 meeting. Browns Valley farmer, Anne Schwagerl, was re-elected state secretary; Clara City farmer Josh VanDerPol was elected to the MFU executive committee, replacing the retiring Dave Johnson of Fergus Falls. Re-elected to MFU’s Executive Committee were Alan Perish of Browerville; Ted Winter of Fulda; Eunice Biel of Harmony; and Larry Jacobson of Hitterdal.

Actions taken by the board included, passing several resolutions on the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, calling on Congress to address the farm price crisis right now by: raising the Farm Service Agency loan rate; implementing supply management programs; increasing support for the Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program; and improving the dairy safety net.

The Board also passed a resolution supporting increased funding for the Rural Finance Authority and the Minnesota Farm Advocate program, as well as increasing funding for the University of Minnesota Forever Green Program, which works to protect the state's natural resources while increasing efficiency, profitability and productivity of Minnesota farmers.


The Minnesota chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier is throwing a spotlight on Minnesota's women chefs at its third annual Dame It! fundraiser Sunday, April 8, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Solar Arts by Show Girls, 711 15th Avenue NE in Minneapolis. The taste-around format allows guests to mingle and chat with the chefs while sampling small plates, wine tastings, craft cocktails/mocktails and sweets. This year there's an old-fashioned Cake Walk, with home-bakes cakes from some of the Twin Cities best food professionals, plus a silent auction and a wall of wine, where plucking the right cork wins you a bottle of wine. 

Tickets can be purchased at:
dameit-2018.eventbrite.com. Early bird tickets, those purchased before March 30, are $75; after that date they are $85.

Outside, baby, it was cold, but inside Legacy Courses at Cragun’s in Brainerd, restaurant owners came in to learn more of the operations and management services available from Reinhart along with tasting suppliers’ latest recipes. Helping himself to the generous samples was Chef Terry Dox (below) of Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge  Reinhart’s spring show is April 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Saint Paul RiverCentre. Information available at twincitiesfoodshow.com

Stephanie Yang (Senior) Rogers High School

ProStart Gets a Taste of the NFL

More than 83 high school students from Minnesota's ProStart program donned their chef coats to help chefs from around the country prepare food for the star-studded Taste of the NFL event, the night before the Super Bowl. You can read more about the event in Dan McElroy’s column on page 24. We did have a chance to get a reaction from one of the participants. 

1. What was the coolest part of the Taste of the NFL? 
The coolest part of serving at the Taste of NFL was meeting the chefs and learning how they wanted their dishes styled. Plate presentation is something that I feel passionate about.

 2. Who were you more excited to see: the football stars or the chefs?
I was more excited to see the chefs since I don't really watch football and know many football players. 

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