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Serving the Servers

C. Rosenberg

They’re far from the spotlight on the kosher food stage; their role is all about allowing others to shine. Dependable Food is the mega-supplier that keeps faithfully stocking your local bakeries, restaurants, caterers, and summer camps with the food items they need to serve you

Thursday, April 06, 2017

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SECRET SERVICE Whether they’re nudging a trendy item forward or accommodating a restaurant’s request, Dependable Foods stick to their role behind the scenes. For this faithful supplier, success is all about allowing your favorite food establishments to shine (Photos: )

You may not see their label gracing the shelves of your local supermarket, and this 40-year-old business isn’t a household name. But if you live in a densely populated frum area in the US, chances are good that Dependable Food is part of your everyday culinary experience. 

The Edison, NJ warehouse is a mega-supplier of over 2,500 kosher food supplies on the commercial level — from flour to hot sauces to fresh produce to frozen pizza to cleaning detergents to flavorings, and absolutely everything else a commercial kitchen needs. Barring Shabbos and Yamim Tovim, every single evening sees hours of nonstop frenetic, yet systematic, activity as products are retrieved from their designated spots, orders assembled, and trucks loaded for early morning deliveries. As early as 5:00 a.m. the trucks begin to roll, bringing hundreds of bakeries, fast food establishments, restaurants, caterers, schools, summer camps, yeshivos, hospitals, and nursing homes the ingredients they need to feed the masses. 

A SOPHISTICATED FOGGING SYSTEM operated each weekend ensures a high standard of cleanliness and air control over the sections, subsections, and sub-sub sections of the warehouse. With hundreds of commercial kitchens depending upon their food suppliers for their own success, it is vital that Dependable Food’s offerings be extremely organized so that they don’t ever let anyone down. Inventory is exceptionally well documented, with a great emphasis on being well stocked. Dependable prides itself on living up to its name; the words “sorry, we’re out of stock” are rarely heard.

“Of the thousands of products we carry — including company labels Dependable Food, Masbia, Dependable Cuisine, and Tov Lakol — I don’t think more than seven or eight items are out of stock now,” says Eli Weinfeld, CEO of Dependable Food. “And we always make sure to have substitute brands in stock so that no client ever remains stuck without a product they need..” 

A sophisticated software system considers volume of past sales, current inventory stock, estimated orders for large companies, and the like, in order to generate scientific estimates for production runs. The sales team at Dependable Food generally receives large orders six months in advance of specialized and/or seasonal items such as fruit filling for hamantaschen, or Kosher for Passover products. This helps keep tabs on anticipated volume. However, there are always those establishments that prefer the “as needed” route, especially on everyday items such as flour, eggs, etc. They send in their orders in the early evening and receive them early the next morning. 

But even the best software and most rigorous maintenance methods aren’t foolproof. 

“Last year, during the avian flu crisis, there was a major egg shortage. Our egg supplier totally backed out on us; he couldn’t supply us and we couldn’t supply our clients,” Weinfeld says. “I turned to contacts around the world to find a new supplier for our clients. Since egg prices nearly quadrupled, we also found fantastic egg replacements for companies that were willing to go with that instead of having to endure prices that were totally consuming their profits.” 

A more common emergency situation for Dependable Food is that of food establishments running short of ingredients during a production run. Though orders generally need to be submitted by early evening, every employee at Dependable Food — from those in sales to warehouse to trucking and everyone in between — knows that the ‘dependable’ in Dependable Food is more than just a word; helping their clients out of a pinch is a company value. After all, they don’t want the kids in camp to forgo buns for the hot dogs at their campfire, the wedding buffet to make do without lettuce at the salad bar, the fast-food eatery to lose out on customers who request scrambled eggs, or the bakery to halt its rugelach production for lack of cocoa. Occasionally, a client will even show up at the warehouse — if they’re really in a pinch — to pick up a supply mid-production. (Excerpted from Mishpacha’s Behind the Scenes, Pesach Mega-Issue 5777)

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