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May 20, 2005

Comments

jen

Interesting post - I would be curious to hear if you think that restauranteurs committed to using local vendors have to deal with more "whiny vendors" than, say, the Chili's down the street who gets everything from Sysco.

I have yet to post about this, but Sysco is getting into the local food thing -- saying that even though restaurants want to use local produce, they still want to be able to go through one source (Sysco) for all of their purchasing so they don't have to deal with the ins and outs of many vendor accounts. I just about lost it when the guy started talking about using specific branding for each farmer - they would all have their own unique four-color Sysco branded box.

Still trying to find out more info on this one.

haddock

Vendor relationships are complicated. Yes, it's a pain to write 90 checks and also a pain to manage delivery schedules from a variety of sources. But if you deal exclusively with a comapnmy like Sysco and you have a problem with them, you're really out of luck.

Dealing with farmers, fishermen, beekeepers, mushroom foragers, home herb growers and the like forces you to be flexible. Sometimes the crop goes to seed before you get it or the fish jumps off the hook before it gets hauled in. So you adapt and you use something else.

If you can't or are unwilling to do this you probably aren't seeking out good things for your larder and if you're relying on Sysco to do your finding for you you're missing out on most of the fun. BTW I am using the "you" as a general "you", not you in particular jen.

Consistent delivery is nice. Especially when you're in a remote area and order a lot of specialty items. A relationship is always a little give and take, ebb and flow, even your relationship with your mainline foodservice rep. It takes work and you'll get out of it what you put in.

Although the reality is most farmers or small producers aren't very good at the delivery end Sysco or other companies like this will never be able to make a go of this because the people they hire in general know nothing about food. Once in a great while do you find a rep who knows something beyond frozen pre-cut fries, but not often.

jen

Thanks for such a complete answer. Your point of view is really valuable on this topic.

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