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People to Know and Places to Go

Despite the typical late winter storms, US FOODS brought its Food Fanatics Live spring event across the region with stops in Deadwood, Minot, Brainerd and Duluth.

Chefs John Byrne and Christopher Schmidt prepared on-trend programming from their Scoop line highlighting sustainable products, value-added services and more. Spring and summer menu ideas were abundantly displayed with more than two dozen new products from the Serve Good program, bringing the total count beyond 300 items that tout responsible sourcing and offer the sustainability characteristics increasingly expected. “As we continue to deliver on our 'Great Food. Made Easy' strategy, our Serve Good portfolio empowers foodservice operators to source a wide variety of food and non-food items that have been carefully developed to help them succeed,” said Stacie Sopinka, vice president of product development and innovation for US Foods.

Don Pfleiderer, owner of Enviromatic, recently described for me the basics of kitchen exhaust cleaning at his Minneapolis headquarters. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Literally and otherwise. Food safety and fire safety for starters. It feels like one of those "necessary evil" expenses, mainly because customers generally don’t see it. Thank goodness! But there is a lot riding on the proper maintenance.

It is hard work under any circumstances, but Don caught the passion from his dad, Larry, shortly after acquiring the 2-year-old company in 1973. Since then he has developed products and solutions that have earned a number of patents. The photography protocol they’ve developed has amassed an archive of more than 5 million images in a finely tuned database for useful reference. It has also helped shape many inspection departments’ requirements. In addition to  restaurant association membership in several states the company operates in, Enviromatic works with at least five national trade associations helping maintain standards and educate inspectors, fire departments, and other service providers on best practices.

With all top management at or near 30 years in the industry, and roughly a third of the entire Enviromatic staff serving between 10 years and 30 years or more, Don beams while explaining that their staff does all their own work. No subcontractors. 

This business formula has currently brought them to 30 states served by 13 offices. In asking about the financial benefits of proper cleaning, he explained to me, “Well, restaurants generally don’t fully rebound following a fire and ultimately close.” 

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