Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Connie Retiring after 14 years at the helm

Don Pedro’s Kitchen announced today that Consuelo Aceves, its long-time Head of Production, and the person most responsible for the company’s growth in the last few years, is retiring after her meteoric 14 year career at the company.
Ms. Aceves began working at the company in 2005 as receptionist, and very quickly took on duties until she became the highest executive in the company, in charge of operations, purchasing and production.
She was responsible for developing many of the company’s stellar products, its unique production methods and processes, its honest, authentic and happy culture, and for assembling an incredible team dedicated to making outstanding authentic and delicious food products for the Hispanic market.
During her tenure the company grew its revenue 10-fold.
She will remain a Director of the company, and an advisor to the owners on matters of strategy. She will retain her un-official title of “Mother Superior” of the mad house and continue mentoring many of her recruits.
She has said that she will spend her time traveling, reading, learning and she will invest her time and energy in her spiritual pursuits and healing the world, through her philanthropic work here and in Mexico.
Please help us in wishing her well, and expressing our gratitude to her for the many ways in which she has touched our lives through her work, her professionalism, her mentoring, her wisdom and specially her love expressed through great food.
She can continue to be reached at Consuelo@DonPedrosMeat.com

Saturday, April 20, 2019

We are wild about wild fermentation

One of Mexico's most interesting ancestral food products (and that is saying a lot, because Mexico is full of interesting foods) is Lechuguilla. Lechuguilla is a traditional, fermented, pro-biotic drink, made from the fermentation of the heart of the Agave. It is a non-alcoholic LAB (lactic-acid bacteria) fermentation, that  produces a very characteristic and refreshing flavor. It is best known in the Jalisco region of Mexico, specially around Guadalajara.

People in Mexico, and people who have been drinking Lechuguilla for generations swear about its health benefits, finding that it helps them to control diabetes, inflammation, depression, mood changes and even prevent cancer.

We have not been able to find solid scientific studies that bear these claims, but from recent modern thinking in nutrition about the role of the human microbiome in the state of our health, we became very curious about the pro-biotic properties of the naturally occurring  micro-organisms in the the heart of the Agave.
As you know, about 4 years ago we began making Lechuguilla in very small batches, in a very traditionally artisanal way, experimenting with different techniques and combining old-world recipes with new flavors.
This has been a project of love, a culinary curiosity of ours, which we have worked on on the side for a long time. Along the way we have developed a small but very loyal clientele, who have shared with us their anecdotal experiences of the benefits of drinking Lechuguilla.
In the same period, we have seen the incredible growth of a wonderful product that is very similar in benefits and tradition, called Kombucha. The geniuses that brought this  product to the mainstream market have done the consumer a great deed, by popularizing a truly great product and by bringing to the forefront the concept of fermented foods and the importance of cultivating and nurturing our microbiome with probiotic foods.
A lot of the work we have done behind the scenes, here at Don Pedro's Kitchen, is working with fermentation, trying recipes for our own enjoyment and creating not only healthy pro-biotic foods, but using traditional fermentation techniques to create incredible flavors. Most of this work is not commercial, and we do it as part of the fun side of our business.
Recently a loyal customer came by the office and told me how when he was out of town on a long trip he could not find our product  in any store, and his body was craving it so much,  that he settled for a Kombucha. He mentioned how much he enjoyed  it,  and how Kombucha could be a substitute for our Lechuguilla product.
We decided to look into it,  and under the microscope we found that the lactic acid  bacteria in a well known Kombucha brand is very similar to the naturally occurring Lactic-Acid  Bacteria found in our drink (although the active count  in ours seems much higher).
Our "Mexican Kombucha", however is made by fermenting the hearts of the Lechuguilla Agave, which  we harvest organically, instead of green teas, as the other brands do. Another important difference, and one that I am actually very proud of, is that our fermentation is 100% wild. This means we use the naturally occurring micro-organisms in the Agave plant, instead of "back-slopping" as the traditional Kombucha technique is called.

This makes our product, culinarily more interesting, and more complex in its flavors. Of course, this is  also the reason why it is more difficult to scale up commercially.
We recently decided to start bottling our Mexican Kombucha, instead of the culturally traditional way of putting it in a bag, to start selling it to a wider audience in a package that is clearly more practical, albeit less nostalgic.
In developing this process and learning the ancestral secrets of fermentation, while reconciling it with a solid scientific base, we have learned a lot, and we will be publishing some interesting posts about fermentation in general and WILD, NATURAL fermentation in particular.
If you are interested in discussing this fascinating topic, please drop us a line. We love talking about it and we are wild about wild fermentation.

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  http://www.bittersweettreats.com/.

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.....