Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mr. Jesus Cardenas Sr. In Memoriam

One of the great leaders in our industry, Mr. Jesus Cardenas Sr. passed away this week. His story is another one of those inspirational entrepreneurial lives that we admire.
Mr. Cardenas migrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the 50's and worked hard as a field laborer. In the 70's him and his wife Luz, began raising pigs in a small piece of land they bought, and in 1981 they opened their first store. They have been growing ever since, and with the help of his children, he built one of the most successful privately-owned companies in the Inland Empire. Cardenas Markets has 29 stores with over 3,000 employees and over $800 million in sales.
But more than the economic success he achieved in his 73 years of life, he left behind, for all of us, a wonderful example of hard work, of care for the customer, and an adherence to the principles of authenticity and good food that makes our business so fun and wonderful. He also built a wonderful family of very smart, hard working and fun loving children, who are very much involved in the business and inherited his work-ethic and his commercial smarts. He also leaves a great legacy in the communities his company served. Cardenas Markets are a pillar of the neighborhoods they serve and their customers love them.
One thing that you can always count on at any Cardenas Markets is finding truly delicious and authentic Hispanic foods, and excellent service in all their departments.
We wish Chuy Cardenas Jr., his son and our friend, Jose, Lupe, George, Dona Luz, and the rest of the family our sincere condolences.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cecineros en Accion

I am always in awe of our Cecineros in action. With their long custom-made daggers, they slice the sheets of beef so thin and with such dexterity, that it is incredible they can produce so much of it every week. Every piece of our Cecina is thinly sliced by hand, using excellent quality meats, and salted and semi-cured by hand in the traditional style of Morelos, Mexico.
We make it the same authentic way they make it in Mexico, except that we use higher quality meats, in a temperature controlled environment and we pack it in vacuum bags to ensure its freshness.
Our Ingredients are: Beef, Salt and Vegetable Oil. That's it!
We make our Cecina fresh every day, to order. Enjoy this virtual visit of our plant.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cupcaking with Top Chef Finalist Danielle Keene

Sometimes I step away from my comfort zone, away from the grill, and try new things. Recently, celebrity Top Chef Finalist and pastry master Danielle Keene and I participated together in a Red Cross Fundraiser in Pasadena, and she agreed to teach me how to make perfect cupcakes. I am bound by an honors confidentiality agreement, not to reveal the secrets here, but let's just say that, like all things related to the kitchen, it is easier to understand how to make a recipe than to actually make it.
I love her style and her approach to the kitchen. Some of her "tricks" are actually based in a very scientific way of thinking, and since pastry making is equal parts chemistry, magic and love, I really enjoyed watching her whip out her cupcakes. I tried my hand at some, and decided that I'll be buying my cupcakes at her new store, Bittersweet Treats, in Pasadena

Danielle Keene is a master, super fun and really sweet (pun intended).
Next time we see each other I will be teaching her all the secrets of pickled products, and she will be tasting our Machaca and our Authentic Mexican Salsas.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Inspiring Juvenal Chavez

Juvenal Chavez, CEO of Mi Pueblo Food Center chats with Andres Jaramillo, CEO of Don Pedro's Meat.

The story of Juvenal Chavez is one of those inspiring stories of immigrants working hard and following a dream to make it big in the U.S.
He immigrated to the U.S. with his wife in the 80's, from Mexico and by 1991 he had opened his own small business. 21 years later, his business, Mi Pueblo Food Center is a growing chain with 21 stores, and over 3,000 happy and enthusiastic employees.
Even though he didn't tell us the exact number, he does hundreds of millions of dollars in business, selling the most authentic hispanic products to a very grateful and loyal clientele.
His competitive advantage is the feeling of home and the experience of joy and community he gives his customers when they buy food at his stores. He conveys that through his employees. We got a chance to meet hundreds of them last week, and I was struck by how happy, smiling and beautiful most of them are. They are proud to belong to such a company, and are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their products and their vendors.
Juvenal really knows his products, and he told us how much he loves our cecina seca, which he started buying from us and selling to his customers over 10 years ago. For him it is a staple at his meat counters, that shows his commitment to very authentic products of high quality.
At Mi Pueblo stores you can also buy Salvadorean Chorizo Don Pedro's, and at their "cremerias" they sell Rellena Don Pedro's.
He is a big supporter of education, an inspiring business leader and a great community leader in San Jose, CA.
We love doing business with Juvenal and his team of winners.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Azusa Pacific University does a case study on Don Pedro's

Professor B. Strother's International Business Class at APU did a case study about our company, on how to take our products and brand to six international markets. At the beginning of the semester they invited me to talk to their class about our company, our business philosophy, our products, entrepreneurship and the market for hispanic foods in the U.S. Last week they invited me again to listen to their presentations and their ideas about how to take our company and our products to other countries. I walked out of that class with six marketing plans choke-full of great ideas and an irrespressible optimism for the new generation of talent coming up. I really can't wait to see this generation become the new consumer and the new working force. They are technologically savvy, they are smart consumers, they are informed, creative, and deep down a really happy generation. They are very adventurous when it comes to trying new things, new ideas, and most importantly, new flavors!
In this picture Jillian Joyce, Elisa Morales and Danielle Trubac's team were proposing expanding with a fleet of food trucks in Australia.

As a culinary entrepreneur, one thing that keeps me up at night is not only how am I going to keep up with this generation's expansion of tastes but at the same time how am I going to stay technologically connected with them. Culinary innovation is a really fun part of my job, and it is hard work. Now add to that the need to innovate also how we do business with our young customers, and you have a really interesting entrepreneur's challenge. Talking to these students is like drinking from a hydrant. Maybe the simple solution is to just hire a bunch of them, and let them do their thing.....

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sopes and Huaraches

We are very proud this week about the launch of our new line of Sopes and Huaraches. They are delicious and Connie and Diana are already working on awesome recipes that several magazines have asked us to submit. If you have any ideas, please, please, please, send them to us.
Several Chefs in America, like Rick Bayless, and in Mexico use huaraches to put chorizo on top and make a delicious dish. If you prefer to make your own huaraches, here is a good recipe: But of course if you want something as good as home-made, without going through all that trouble, just ask your local gourmet store to supply you with our huaraches and sopes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in Latin America

One of my favorite Chefs in Latin America is Gustavo, my father. His style is very original and he assures me that 90% of his success is the quality of the fresh ingredients he uses. We both share this essential philosophy about food. This holiday I packed the family and we traveled to South America to celebrate thanksgiving with him. The spirit of the celebration was American: we gave thanks for the many blessings in our lives, but the menu was very Latin and eclectic. Gustavo made an outstanding baked red snapper and  wondefully juicy, tender pork ribs while my wife and I made a simple and delicious pork loin with herbs. We toasted with South American wines (a Chilean Errazuris Pinot Noir and an Argentinean Addagio Reserva Malbec).
 We spent the rest of the week researching the wonderful flavors of the different Colombian chorizos and researching some very interesting spices for sausages. I'm bringing back some great ideas to the plant from this trip.