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Gourmet Guru

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

When, in your weekly visits to the neighborhood supermarket, did you last peruse such product as lemon cucumbers, chocolate mint leaves, or dragon fruit? Possibly never, but if you were to travel to New Bedford, Mass., to visit Sid Wainer & Son Specialty Produce and Specialty Foods, you would see a plethora of unusual fruits, vegetables, herbs, and gourmet products. Or you can shop the “Gourmet Guru’s” goods on their 24-hour customer service line, or at

“The world has become a small place to dine,” says Dr. Henry Wainer (pictured here), owner of the 92-year-old company, which his grandfather started at a time when “specialty produce” was unheard of. Today, the company is recognized by the United States Farm Bureau as the leading produce company in America.

In addition to having 65 acres of farmland, including one-of-a-kind inner-city greenhouses, the company also contracts with farmers throughout the United States and abroad. The secret lies in Wainer’s access - he’s able to consistently purchase substantial part of a farmer’s harvest, always getting first pick, and he influences what is cultivated.

Jansal Valley farms, the company-owned farmland, was purchased for the sole purpose of exploring and discovering new ways to harvest produce never previously grown in the U.S. This ingenious maneuver has so far been a success, lessening Wainer’s dependence on foreign crops and educate local farmers in techniques learned through test farming.

Remarkably, the company distributes more than 1,500 products to 30 different countries, depleting its entire 300,000-square-foot warehouse six times a week and “turning” its berry supply twice a day, so it makes sense that Wainer employs over 500 associates, and that two-thirds of the sales staff are trained chefs.

Wainer & Son is the only produce company in America to obtain HACCP (Hazardous Analysis Critical Points Control) certification and subject itself to periodic surprise inspections. It also teaches food safety to others in the industry.

Continental Airlines is proud to partner with Sid Wainer & Son on select inflight menus to offer our BusinessFirst customers such specialty food items as smoked duck breast, perfectly aged imported cheeses, grilled artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes.

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