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.

Issue link: https://specialtyfoodmagazine.epubxp.com/i/1017167

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Page 50 of 91

Hall of Fame 2018 "I never forget where I started," says Nassem Ziyad, COO of Ziyad Brothers Importing, head- quartered in Cicero, Ill. That would be a little retail store in Chicago founded in 1966 by his late father, Ahmad, and his uncle Ibrahim, specializ- ing in handmade pita bread and select Middle Eastern products. In the 1970s, Nassem and his three brothers—Nemer, Nazmy, and Nezar Ziyad—worked at the store after school and during summer breaks. "When all the other young people were out there playing baseball, I was trying to learn social skills, help- ing customers find the feta cheese and put beans in a bag," he says. At any given Fancy Food Show, those skills are manifest as he walks the floor, talking to entrepreneurs, encouraging and advising them on new ideas and the pitfalls of running a specialty food business. He should know. He and his brothers have built ZBI into one of the largest Mediterranean sales and marketing companies in the U.S. (the family's original store closed decades ago). "The core principle to our business model is focusing on quality products from our family to yours, not selling something we wouldn't take home to our own families," he says. ZBI imports hundreds of products from 28 countries, selling both premium brands and Ziyad-owned brands of hummus, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, stuffed grape leaves, Turkish coffee, rose water, toasted sesame seeds, and mango nectar, to name just a few. From his interactions with mainstream consumers who love the taste and healthy aspect, he sees only more growth for Middle Eastern foods. "To this day, I handle all the consumer calls," he says. "I take them very seriously and it gives me a pulse on the market." Nassem Ziyad Ziyad Brothers Importing (ZBI) Annie Chun and Stephen Broad Annie Chun's/gimMe Snacks S eaweed is a dark, leafy, ocean vegetable dense in calcium, protein, vitamins A and B12, and iodine. Dietitians say it contains the broadest range of minerals of any food on earth. It's also a great source of fiber. So why have so many of us traditionally only had it at Asian restaurants? Annie Chun and Stephen Broad are changing that mindset, showing that seaweed can be an everyday snack with far more versatile uses than flavoring miso soup or wrapped around sushi. The couple co-founded gimMe Snacks in 2012 and today it's recognized as the leading seaweed snack brand, the catalyst behind the growth of the whole category. Chun was born and raised in Korea, where seaweed—"gim"—is a staple. Broad is from Northern California and shares his wife's passion for roasted seaweed and creating healthy Asian convenience foods that both kids and adults love. Their San Rafael-based, family-owned com- pany produces Seaweed Chips in flavors like Sesame Teriyaki and Wasabi Tamari, and Seaweed Thins, light, crispy sheets layered with Toasted Coconut or Sriracha Almond, for instance. GimMe was the first organic seaweed snack to enter the marketplace and is also non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan. "One of the most amazing things for us is the fact that kids love seaweed," Broad says. "A lot of times parents don't recognize that, thinking it might be too fishy, but it's just phenomenal how we get all kinds of photos and videos of kids stuffing it in their mouths." In the early 1990s, their first specialty food company, Annie Chun's, reinvented gourmet, easy-to-prepare pan-Asian soups and boldly flavored noodles. They sold it in 2008 to CJ Foods, Korea's largest food company, and it continues to be a leading Asian food brand in the U.S. As for the growing gimMe brand, it's sold in all 50 states at large grocers and natural foods stores. Watch out, kale. If Chun and Broad have their way, the superfood will keep turning up in all kinds of unexpected places. "The core principle to our business model is focusing on quality products from our family to yours, not selling something we wouldn't take home to our own families." 48 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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