If you are going to be in New York and don’t have a lavish expense account, you could do a lot worse than consult the guide featured in New York magazine to “New York’s Best Cheap Eats”. Cheap is, of course, relative and, in New York they set it at an entrée price of around $20. Beyond the personal interest, the list is intriguing because it is made up of all local independent restaurants.
The local independent restaurant is pretty much neglected when it comes to national producers looking to sell product. It is just much easier for big national producers to approach national restaurant chains to try to sell product. It is even easier to approach major foodservice distributors such as Sysco. A few high-end restaurants get approached to carry a new item in hope of garnering publicity, but in any city such as New York, where many restaurants buy from local purveyors who buy off the city’s local produce, meat or fish markets or other local vendors, most national vendors are just out of their element. It is a shame because these independents have more menu flexibility than a national chain.
A little bit of hope: the Produce Marketing Association just held its 25th Annual Foodservice Conference and Exposition in Monterey, California. A highlight of the conference was the inauguration of The Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation under which ten students and two faculty members from the Culinary Institute of America each year receive the opportunity to participate in PMA’s foodservice conference.
This type of outreach is crucial because it gets to people who will probably never be on the board of an organization such as PMA. The Perishable Pundit’s sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, was proud to be one of the sponsors of the Nucci Scholarship Golf Tournament, which funds the program.
The scholarship is named in honor of Joe Nucci, a substantial innovator himself. He was among many other things the father of Broccoli Cole Slaw, the Secretary-Treasurer of PMA and the President of Mann Packing. He died a year ago at age 40. He was a good friend.