Michael Dwork

CEO, VerTerra Dinnerware
Between the ages of 9 and 15, my family spent every weekend of the summer at a hotel next to a farm in New Jersey. The farmer allowed all kids to wander through their orchards for two hours a day and eat whatever we wanted in the field. You couldn’t carry anything away, but you could pick and eat. Every summer I looked forward to gorging myself on those succulent, fresh-picked Jersey yellow peaches. My only meals most Saturdays were the peaches—nothing we ever purchased in the supermarkets compared to them. In part because they were so fresh, but also because of the excitement of finding the most perfectly ripe pieces of fruit on the tree. We learned which trees were “magic”—that the difference between a ripe and pre-ripe peach was the look, feel, and smell of perfection. The thrill of finding them and then the moment of biting into the fruit and the sensation of the juice making a delicious mess. I always loved peaches, but these summers next to the farm were special. At a young age I was exposed to the wonders of amazing produce and the importance of good growing practices. Since then, I have always appreciated the opportunity to grow things myself and find growers that take pride in their craft.
“As a young child, my grandmother had a garden in our backyard and while she was cooking, she would ask me to go pick jalapenos, tomatoes, and squash. That garden made a big impression on me and my life. I believe that is where my passion for food and fellowship developed. On Sundays our family would gather at my grandparents’ home to eat and laugh. I believe that no matter what happens in life there is no better feeling than gathering around the dinner table with your family and friends.”