Northwestern Fruit Company, St. Paul

We’ve all gone to the grocery store to pick up food for dinner on the way home from work, but how often while dining in a restaurant do we think about how they got the food?  Being in the service industry and in the kitchen, we fill out a req. sheet, turn it in to purchasing, and Voila, the food we need arrives.  But how?  We had the unique opportunity to tour Northwestern Fruit Company in St. Paul, Minnesota which is a small (but growing) produce distributor in the Twin Cities area.  Dan Zelle is an ’04 NECI graduate who oversees the operation.  They take in an order from, say, the local convention center, fill, and deliver the product.  Sounds simple enough when put this way, but there’s so much more to the process.  The warehouse runs 24 hours a day, for starters.  Let’s take the tomatoes;  they order in the tomatoes (which is a task in itself) unsorted.  This means, in order to sell these tomatoes, they have to then be sorted by both size and ripeness, boxed, labeled, stored, then shipped.  There is also a full production deparment within the building.  If a customer orders coleslaw, they hand make coleslaw, package it, label it, store it, ship it.  You get the idea.  Northwestern Fruit Co. also makes french fries, specialty mixed stirfry packages, coin carrots, you name it, they’ll do it.  The team of delivery drivers then bring the produce ordered straight to the restaurant, the chef checks it in, again, Voila, your req. sheet’s been filled.  Time to prep!  Thank you, Dan, for sharing the other side of the food industry with us, we enjoyed our visit!

Published in: on August 3, 2007 at 2:54 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Chef Marcus,
    I found out about your blog adventures from P. It looks like your eating a lot better then me, I have been on the trail since March 28. I am hiking the Appalachian Trail from GA to ME. All I eat is instant food. I am just into CT now hitting up farm stands when we can. The tomatoes kick some serious @#! as well as the corn. Be sure to check the pics at

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