Growing up in Western Pennsylvania with an Italian heritage introduced me to fond memories of food and family. The food was always fresh, and the rule was everybody eats at the table and must wait until you are excused to leave. In my hometown, most families had a garden somewhere in their yard and the fruits of their labor were badges of pride. I remember helping my grandfather (Pap) with his plot in the backyard like it was yesterday. The labors included, but were not limited to, tilling the soil, adding compost, sifting the soil, and preparing the land until it was just right by my Pap’s standards. Nothing was planted or started until the soil was perfect to accept the seeds. Now the seeds were not just any seeds—they were germinated from the previous year’s crop. Pap began his preparation as if it was a neighborhood competition, which it was. During the growing season, Pap was tending to his garden every day; some days just pulling up a chair beside the plants as if he was visiting with his best friends. There were many cherished memories with my Pap and HIS garden.
I didn’t realize it then, but that time with my Pap and his garden was the beginning of my passion for fresh produce and feeling good about knowing where my food came from. I would soon move from the garden to the kitchen where my grandmother (Gram) was receiving the day’s bounty and creating culinary memories. Spending time with Gram in the kitchen secured my interest in cooking and led to me becoming a chef.
Fast forward to today and my dream of becoming a chef has come true and my experiences with Pap in the garden continue today with Markon. I have been fortunate to walk the fields in the Salinas Valley, seeing firsthand what is packed in a Markon box. I know where the vegetables come from and I am confident explaining the process, proving that it’s the best produce available—just as I knew as a kid that anything from Pap’s garden was touched with a passion for perfection.