Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 48 of 91

The Specialty Food Association also inducted the members of its 2018 Hall of Fame class, at the Summer Fancy Food Show. The Hall of Fame's mission is to honor individuals whose accomplishments, impact, contributions, innovations, and successes within the specialty food industry deserve praise and recognition. Following are profiles of the newly inducted members. A month in Paris in 1969 changed Fran Bigelow's way of life and attitude toward food. She was newly married and learning to cook, having been inspired by Julia Child. "When we got to France, I started to understand what she was talking about, paying attention to the quality of ingre- dients," she says. "The strawberries, the melons were different, and then to walk into this wonderful chocolate shop on the Left Bank—it was just magical." Back in the U.S., the Seattle native went on a quest to find out more about chocolate. She was an accountant rearing two children and "women were not terribly welcome in the food industry then," she says. In San Francisco in the 1970s, she took classes at the California Culinary Academy and found it fit her personality. She had always wanted to open her own business and once she and her family moved back to Seattle, she felt ready. Her original shop, Fran's Patisserie & Chocolate Specialties, debuted in Seattle in 1982. No bank would give her a loan so it was cash-based. She sourced her chocolate from Canada since a superior European product was imported there for French chefs. Customers who were ex-pats or had traveled to Europe recog- nized the less-sugary, high-quality difference and helped spread the word. Bigelow's passion helped spark the artisan chocolate movement across the country. Today Bigelow has four Seattle-area boutiques plus mail order and wholesale lines of truffles, caramels, bars, and chocolate-covered nuts and fruit. President Obama is among Fran's Chocolates fans. He would gift Gray and Smoked Salt Caramels to White House visitors. The proliferation of fine domestic chocolate hasn't hurt her busi- ness. "We fill a special niche, like the European model, and people have stayed loyal," she says. "It's a wonderful time for chocolate." Fr an Bigelow Fr an's Chocolates Hall of Fame 2018 W hen Russell McCall was 16 he went to work for a cheese shop in Greenwich, Conn., not far from his family's home in Westport. He ended up staying for eight years, learning the business well enough to open his own 1,000-square-foot cheese shop in Atlanta, Ga., with some money borrowed from his grandmother. It was 1967 and he was in graduate school at Emory University but not overly consumed by his studies. After receiving his MBA, he would return to quiz his professors from time to time when business ebbed or he needed to make strategic decisions. "They were wonderful to me," he recalls. Their valuable advice helped him to expand to five stores in Atlanta. A few years later he sold all the stores and in 1975 went into the wholesale business. At first the company was called Atlanta Foods International, specializing in fine European cheese and anything that went with it—crackers, olives, olive oil, pasta. From supplying little shops, he advanced to stocking the cheese department for grocery store chains. To reflect the company's reach beyond Atlanta, he changed the name to Gourmet Foods International. Saying he's "sort of retired," he still owns the business but trusts his team to manage it. A few decades ago, McCall got a wine license and also started a wholesale wine company. He no longer owns it, but he's still in the wine business, with a winery on the North Fork of Long Island. Called McCall Wines, it produces about 5,000 cases a year, including unoaked chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet franc. "You can tell I like starting things," he says. Russell McCall Gourmet Foods International 46 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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