Food & Wine: Chefs Source Their Food From These Semi-Secret Purveyors—and Now You Can Too

5/13/2020

Written by Andrea Strong of Food & Wine

Restaurants across the country have shuttered, laying off countless workers and leaving suppliers without their wholesale clientele. To make up for lost revenue and to keep their businesses afloat, many restaurant suppliers — both wholesalers and farmers — are pivoting to the home delivery market. The shift has meant that suppliers can continue to thrive and to keep their workforce employed, and that a new population of shelter-in-place homebound cooks can access the same chef pantry as Michelin-starred kitchens. 

“Our focus was restaurants, hotels, and country clubs, but as soon as we saw what was happening in Italy, we knew it was coming to New York City,” said John Magazino,  Director of Category Development at The Chef’s Warehouse, which pivoted to consumer delivery in early March. The company does over $2 billion in sales in a normal year, and Magazino describes the process of pivoting to home delivery for consumers as “putting an elephant in ballet shoes.” “We had our IT team working around the clock, but we have done it,” he said.

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In addition to backend website development, The Chef’s Warehouse has also had to repackage their products, shifting to offer smaller quantities. “Consumers do not want a case of eggs, they want them by the dozen,” explained Magazino. “No one is going to need 165 lemons or potatoes. That would go to waste.” 

The Chef’s Warehouse is also offering family “boxes” of proteins. A steak box might include a variety of cuts— two steaks, two fillets, and two strips, for example. A seafood box will include an assortment of fresh fish—salmon, halibut, tilefish and the like. Interestingly, the only large quantity item selling well is flour. “So many people are baking —making cookies, cakes, and sourdough breads—that we actually do get home cooks ordering 50 pound of flour.” 

Overall, Magazino says the consumer demand is quite strong. “We can bring in 300 cases of an item and it goes out the door in seconds.” 

Given this pivot, it seems now may be the time to skip the line and stop fretting over the wait for delivery slots on Amazon Prime and Fresh Direct. A world of farm fresh produce, sustainable seafood, pasture-raised meats, heirloom masa, and so much more is waiting for you. 

The following is an evolving list (in alphabetical order) of restaurant suppliers offering home delivery across the country. 

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Green City Market Delivered: To help local Chicago-area farmers, the nonprofit Green City Market launched a new app in partnership with WhatsGood on March 27 called Green City Market Delivered. The app functions as a virtual marketplace for local, seasonal purveyors of eggs, produce, meat, fresh cheese and more. At launch, the app featured a small test group of 15 farms — including Finn’s, Nichols Farm & Orchard, Mick Klug Farm, Ellis Family Farms, Arize Kombucha and pHlour Bakery — and allows consumers to place collective orders with participating vendors for weekly at-home delivery for a flat rate of $9.99.

Read the full article at foodandwine.com.

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