Hello folks and welcome to the second installment of our new series, Faces of Ace. Last month you met our blogger and newsletter writer, Luna Adler. This month, meet Ace CEO Tor Newman who has been with Ace for approximately 9 years. Not your average boss, Tor has a black belt in the Japanese martial art aikido, attended Berkeley College of Music, and used to play the saxophone in a funk rock band in NYC. Read on to learn more about Tor and for instructions on making his specialty dish, Pasta E Lentichhie.
What was the last amazing meal you had at a restaurant?
Oh God (laughing). The last amazing meal? We went to our traditional family Christmastime Carmine’s meal. We ordered the Pasta with White Clam Sauce and really delicious Carmine’s Salad. The food is really good but it wasn’t just the food, it was also the atmosphere.
You like to cook. Do you have a speciality dish?
Mainly it’s been this lentil soup with pasta called Pasta E Lenticchie. It’s hard for me to believe now, but I really hated all beans when I was a kid. My mother was always trying different ways of making them to get me to eat them and this soup was my first real introduction to beans or legumes of any kind that I liked. I make this dish for my family all the time…it’s really healthy comfort food and it’s especially good for the cold months of the year.
How old were you when you started cooking?
When I was 9 and my brother was 12 and my sister was 15 my mom decided that we all needed to help out more so we started really, really cooking. I’m sure I learned things before that age and my sister and brother learned well before those ages but [that was when] we actually started cooking for the family. We would pair up with either my father or my mother and make dinner for everyone.
How did you come to be interested in the food business?
Well I come from a pretty food-oriented family. My mother was very much into healthy eating and she was 100% Italian, so food was very much a part of our family culture. And my father’s the same way. He comes from a Russian Jewish background and food was always a big part of the culture. We’ve always been very interested in food and I’m fascinated with restaurants…I always have been since I was a little kid. And I love eating out–all kinds of different cuisines–eating interesting and unusual things and seeing how different people make different things. But I also really love serving and selling healthy food that tastes great. That’s a big thing, a double whammy for me.
One place you want to travel but haven’t yet?
Italy, everywhere in Italy. I’d also like to go to Thailand.
What different types of diets/food ideologies have you tried?
I have tried most things. I’ve been vegan, I’ve been just vegetarian, I’ve been vegan and gluten-free. (Laughing) I have been whatever it’s called when you pretty much eat whatever and don’t worry about, you know, even the quality of food that you’re eating. I’ve tried pretty much all of the different things.
What was your first foray into the natural food industry?
In 1990 I got a job working in a now defunct health food store called Sunrise Natural Foods on Houston St. I was the juice bar guy.
In the early ’90s you were the general manager of Integral Yoga Natural Foods in Charlottesville, Virginia. You started a café there, right?
Yeah, that’s true. I started Veggie Heaven, a café food service. I’ve always been interested in restaurants and cafés, foodservice. That’s a big draw there for me.
What would be a perfect Saturday for you?
A perfect Saturday is to wake up on the later side, like 8:30, 9:00 (laughing) and it’s about 50, 55 degrees out. Go for a nice long run. Come home and hang out with my family. Maybe play with my kids, do some reading, maybe do some work. And then go out to dinner with my wife and friends.
Not only do people need food to exist but they also love food; they love eating it, they love talking about it, they love complaining about it, they love traveling for it, and they love reading about it. In the last few years it has also become obvious that people love blogging about it. There are food blogs everywhere–you even happen to be reading one right now! With such a plethora of material out there, we thought we’d digest it a bit for ya and give you some links to blogs we enjoy…
A Couple Cooks is a beautifully presented food blog featuring “(mostly) vegetarian, whole foods recipes.” The blog is run by Sonja and Alex Overhiser, a couple who describe themselves as “whole food enthusiasts, bloggers, cooks, photographers, recipe developers, and urban gardeners.” We also feel a special kinship to Sonja and Alex because of our shared affection for health food heroes Jamie Oliver, Mark Bittman, and Michael Pollan–all names that have appeared on the Ace blog. Our favorite part of this site is the menu on the right which displays the dishes in handy categorizes like “Gluten-Free,” “Vegan,” “Healthy Desserts,” and “Whole Grains.” We can’t wait to try out their Shaved Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Salad!
Naturally Ella, written by a woman named Erin, features mostly vegetarian food with the occasional meat dish thrown in because it’s “just how I roll.” It’s hard not to love this site, which offers instructions for making nutritious and decadent dishes like “Brown Rice, Oat, and Nut Veggie Burger” and “Pumpkin Brown Butter Pecan Pancakes.” The blog also has super-handy tabs which categorize the recipes both seasonally and by content (i.e. “Gluten-Free,” “Vegan,” and Vegetarian”). We are especially fond of Erin’s attitude towards food–she doesn’t play into the “weight debate” and writes that she strives to not be obsessive about what she consumes because “there’s just no point.” We couldn’t agree more!
Sarah Yates, lifestyle blogger behind A House In The Hills, knows what’s good–for your tastebuds and for your health. The recipes this innovative woman features are super colorful (think Blue Corn and Blueberry Pancakes) and creative (such as Miso Glazed Eggplant) and always feature a plethora of fresh fruits and veggies. Sarah is also super talented with her camera and the photos of her finished dishes look pretty mouth-watering indeed…browse at your own risk, you just may end up with a kitchen full of amazing food.
We like Reclaiming Provincial for multiple reasons, especially because the Burlington-based writer focuses on local farm and food culture. She writes that she ”enjoy[s] nothing more than food that is intertwined with memory and tradition — cultural, personal, or otherwise” which we also value over here at Ace. Another cool thing about this blog is that the recipes are categorized by season, meaning that you can search for dishes featuring ingredients that are likely to be fresher and less expensive.
“Cheap Healthy Good” are three words that aren’t always easy to find in the same sentence, yet the recipes on this blog help it live up to its name. Written collectively by four women, CHG is “dedicated to the advancement of frugal, nutritious, ethically-minded food in everyday life” and these ladies aren’t messing around! We appreciate that the recipe lists denote which dishes are vegetarian and vegan, and that the majority of the concoctions are brimming with veggies. Even better is the fact that the posts are often prefaced with chatty, entertaining anecdotes for readers who want to feel like they’re hanging out in the kitchen with friends.
Emily Schuman, lifestyle blogger of Cupcakes and Cashmere publishes some great recipes, which she mixes in with other-themed posts, mostly on personal fashion and decor. While the majority of Emily’s culinary projects tend to feature sugary snacks, health food-oriented readers should check out her “Green Foods” posts to learn how to make delicious Kale Chips, Greek Green Goddess Dip/Dressing and a Green Smoothie.
Thanks for joining us in spreading the word on healthy food blogs! We hope you’ve found some great new resources. Never forget that culinary creativity takes all shapes and forms and can crop up in the most unexpected places! And if you have a favorite culinary site not featured here please let us know in the comments section below.read more
Meet Ace’s Founder Larry Vierling. Aside from the years when Larry moved to the suburbs to raise his children, this born and bred New Yorker has “always lived in The City and worked in The City.” Naturally, this includes the last 20 years, during which he’s been responsible for distributing the highest quality health food to NYC’s restaurants. Larry’s number one piece of advice for young entrepreneurs? “Hire good people. You’re only one person—I can only do so much. You have to have good people around you.” Read on to find out more about Larry and learn how to make his favorite Aduki Ginger Dip!
How did you come to found Ace Natural in 1994?
I was a NYC police officer and then I retired and I was looking for something to do. I had a friend who had a girlfriend who was in the health food business. I was hanging out with him and of course he was hanging out with her, you know, and I got familiar with the business there and I started helping out, working in the health food store. I was doing a couple of deliveries for them and I wound up with a little job there. It was cool and things were going along well…but it wasn’t cost effective for them to keep it up, with the van and the manpower and everything else. So I said, “Listen, you know, I know lots of people because I’ve been riding along doing the delivery and I like it here.” So I started to pick it up and then after a while one thing led to another and I started to do the business on my own. And for a couple of months we had very little and then it began to grow and grow and grow and I stayed with it. Twenty years later, here we are.
That’s a big change, being a police officer to working in the natural food industry. What was the biggest adjustment for you?
The biggest adjustment? That’s a good question (laughing). Really, I didn’t look at it as if it was a big, big adjustment. You know, it’s just a job. I’m pretty comfortable with people and I knew most of the people at Ace so it wasn’t like it was a big adjustment in that sense. At that time I was about 50 years old and I wanted to do something and I figured this was about as good as anything else. To me it was fun and I was in the vans by myself, you know. Ten minutes with this person, ten minutes with that person. I always liked The City…if I wanted to stop for coffee, I stopped for coffee, if I wanted to eat something I’d stop to eat something. It was something nice to do. I didn’t look at it like a job.
Do you miss any part of what you used to do at Ace?
I think it’s like most any job. You miss the people, you don’t really miss the job. Over the last 5 or 10 years I’ve been pushed out of the office and now they’re looking to put me in a rocking chair! I’m 70 now so I’m just trying to keep busy. I go in a couple days a week and say hello.
How has the industry changed over the time you’ve been a part of it?
It’s grown tremendously. It’s gotten much bigger. When I first started it was like a bunch of hippies that were really the controlling factor in it. Now all the big companies have done it. They’re buying up all the small companies because it’ s just a money-making operation. At this point they’re finally starting to realize that even though it’s nothing compared to [conventional] food, it’s a big, big thing. And it’s all for the better from my standpoint. I’ve seen it grow and grow and grow—it’s tremendous. The future looks like it’s in the health food. People want to eat healthy and live healthier. Even me over the years—before I got into this business I didn’t really eat healthy at all. But now I see myself changing for the most part.
One thing you’d like to make happen that you haven’t been able to yet?
I’d like to get [organic and health food] out there to more people. A lot of people eat garbage, real garbage. I’d like to spread [health food] out so it’s easier to find, it’s more available, so there are more restaurants where you can get organic food. At some level I think that would put a little smile on my face. People going green, eating healthier. If I can accomplish that in a little way I’ll take some pride in that.
One thing you’ve been able to achieve at Ace that you never imagined would be a possibility in the beginning?
The growth. The growth is just…how did it happen? And of course it’s a little something that I’ve done but it’s just the trend now. If you look at the growth of the organic industry over the last 5 or 10 years it’s growing way more than any other part of the industry. People are getting more aware of what’s in the food, how it’s processed. And then they turn to the health food.
Are you vegetarian or vegan yourself?
No. It’s too rigid for me, I don’t like that (laughing). You know I was 50 years old before I got into the business. It’s hard to change an old dog. I’m not eating at McDonalds anymore and I try to eat healthier but I still do eat meat.
What personal traits do you think contribute to being successful in business?
Hard work and good people. It’s very, very basic if you step back and take a look at it. You gotta hire the right people, people who are into the movement of green and eating healthy. Those are the people that you need. At the beginning I didn’t really eat that way or think that way but over the years I’m coming around. I used to have a girl who worked for me and she was all vegan and macrobiotic and everything. She was always telling me that I should start to eat this way and do this, and I used to tell her “Look. When I start to see you people live to be 110 you got me on board. But until then I’m gonna eat what I want to eat.” I really do believe that you’re living a healthier life if you cut out all that garbage, the sugars and the fats and all of that.
Favorite health food invention?
I would think Daiya. It’s a non-dairy allergen-free cheese. Daiya goes into a lot of things and it’s a good tasting cheese, it smells nice. I think that was a good invention and I think that company will go far.
My hobbies? Really can’t print that! I go to Atlantic City a lot, I go to Vegas (laughing). Hobbies I’ve never really had…My seven grandchildren are my hobby. I have 2 daughters, one has four, one has 3. They keep me busy.
I look at myself as a very fortunate person to have gotten into the industry. To me, its not like selling vacuums, where that’s kind of a stagnant industry. I got into an industry that’s really growing. You take computers out of the picture and health food is probably moving just about as quick as anything else. I consider myself very lucky to have gotten into it and I met a lot of nice people in the process and I’m 70 years old and life is good.
Eden Foods’ Aduki Ginger Dip
15 ounces Eden Organic Aduki Beans (1 can–do not drain)
1/4 cup Eden Pickled Ginger Slices, drained
1 tablespoon Eden Shoyu Sauce
1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
Combine all ingredients in a bender or food processor and puree until smooth. Serve with a selection of raw or lightly steamed vegetables and/or Eden Wasabi Chips, Brown Rice Chips, Vegetable Chips, or Sea Vegetable Chips. To make a thick sandwich spread, drain the beans before proceeding as directed above.
Thank you, Larry! Have you ever made Eden’s Aduki Ginger Dip? Do you have a different favorite dip recipe that you’d care to share? Let us know! Leave a comment below!
Ace recently had the chance to sit down with Matt McLean, founder of Uncle Matt’s Organic, our newest customer and America’s oldest organic orange juice company. Uncle Matt’s was created in 1999 when McLean converted three acres of his dad’s backyard in central Florida into an organic citrus grove. Today the company uses 1,500 acres, sells 11 juice items nationwide as well as a full line of organic whole citrus fruit (think oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines), and avocados, blueberries, and peaches. One of the many things we love about Uncle Matt’s is that it truly is a family business. McLean’s father serves as production manager, and the two of them are joined by McLean’s mother, wife, brother, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law. McLean, who has lived in FL his whole life, cites the warm weather as the best part of his home state. Laughing, he warns: “If you don’t like warm weather, don’t come here from about June through October. You should stay away!”
Can you tell us a bit about how Uncle Matt’s got started?
I am personally a fourth generation citrus grower in FL and we’re 7th generation Floridians. My great grandfather, he grew up [farming] citrus organically, by default. Before pesticides came. But like everybody else, when the local university started pushing the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides my grandfather and my father went off on that path. And then I went to college to get out of the citrus industry…I was tired of working in the hot groves in the summer (laughing). I graduated [as a] business major [from] the University of Florida in ’93. I came back around and I started an import/export company and I was selling conventional orange juice and grapefruit juice, frozen in bulk drums, over to Europe and the Middle East. And in the late ‘90s I had a German customer ask me about organic—could I find him some organic grapefruit juice?–and that got me looking into the industry and got me asking my family, “What is organic? Can we grow organic? Why don’t we grow organic anymore?” And that was when my grandfather kind of stopped me and said, “What do you mean, ‘Can we grow it here?’ How do you think we used to grow it before synthetic pesticides and fertilizers? Absolutely we can grow it that way. That’s how we used to grow it and that’s how I believe we should go back to growing it.” And that was the impetus that gave me the confidence. I said, “Okay, we can do this.” And it’s actually been almost 15 years this June.
Did you grow up eating health food in your family?
My mom was a nutritionist, so I don’t know if you’d call it health food, but we wound up eating healthy. Had a lot of fresh vegetables and produce. But I didn’t grow up as an organic food advocate. Now we not only grow it, but we live the lifestyle as well. My wife and I raised our girls on a predominantly organic diet and as chemical-free as possible–everything from the deodorant to the shampoos to the cleaning agents.
Do you guys go to Disney World sometimes?
We do. I have two young kids, 2 and 5, and that’s about the only reason I would go to Disney. But growing up we went every now and again. Disney World is about 25 minutes from here so it’s right in our backyard and if my grandfather was still alive, he’d tell you all about when they came in and bought a lot of the land they’ve got and how they bought it. They bought a little bit of citrus land but mostly it was just swampy low-lying land over there.
And what’s the worst part of living in Florida?
(Laughing) Some would say the heat. I don’t really think there is a worst part of Florida other than maybe if you don’t like the hot summers. Even for a native Floridian, July, August, September…sometimes it can get to be pretty humid and hot. You sweat a lot. You’ll be outside in the summer and you’ll be pretty drenched. But I happen to like the heat.
One surprising way that orange juice has infiltrated your day-to-day life?
You know, I am a firm believer in my glass of orange juice—minimum–a day. So I drink plenty, whether it’s some kind of citrus juice, grapefruit or orange, or I’ll switch off…the apple is refreshing. I put orange in a variety of things. I love putting it into smoothies, my wife likes baking with it. She’ll put orange juice in marinades and sauces. Your body really needs the bioflavonoids, antioxidants and vitamin C to help defend it’s self. So it’s important to have citrus in your diet regularly.
How did you come up with the orange juice recipe that you use now?
Well, we started with two main varieties, the Hamlin orange and the Valencia orange. The Hamlin is the early season orange in FL; it was my grandfather’s favorite. It’s the highest in vitamin C of any variety we have down here. And it’s a light, pale yellow color but it has a unique top coat…a little bouquet of floral notes. And then the Valencia orange is my favorite, it’s the late season orange in FL. It’s the most well known variety around the world [and] it has a bolder flavor. So we started with those two main varieties that are common here in FL and blended those together in a certain ratio. The main thing that you look for are the Brix/Acid ratio and oil content. We’re not as concerned with color–we’re more concerned with flavor and the oil content. And that makes what Uncle Matt’s is every day. We don’t adulterate it. There’s absolutely nothing added. We have no flavor packs, no preservatives, no sweeteners. So our Brix/Acid ratio and oil content can vary from season to season because whatever Mother Nature give us is what we give you.
Thank you, Matt! We’re so glad to be working with you. Readers, have you tried products from Uncle Matt’s before? Do you live in Florida? Do you go to Disney World? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Images: McLean photographyread more
Hello, it’s Ace here and we are excited to report that we’ve struck gold once again with a recipe from The Clean Plates Cookbook: Sustainable, Delicious, and Healthier Eating for Every Body. This organic Morning Miso Soup is an amazing way to start your day; warm, cozy, and filled with nutrients, it will leave you both satisfied and energized. While eating miso soup for breakfast may seem unusual to those of us who have been born and bred in a country that celebrates bagel brunches and Cap’n Crunch, people all over Japan swear by it. In fact, the Japanese have been imbibing this rich soup since the Jomon period (yep, that was a super long time ago). Truth be told, this soup is scrumptious and the United States’ longevity rates are not exactly stellar compared to those of Japan so if that’s not enough incentive to buy some miso and dust off your saucepans, we don’t know what is!
You will need:
1/4 cup wakame
6 cups dashi or organic reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup organic white miso
1 organic medium-size carrot, cut into matchsticks
8 ounces organic soft tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 medium-size organic scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
organic naturally brewed soy sauce or organic, wheat-free tamari, for serving
In a small bowl, combine the wakame with enough warm water to cover it by 1 inch. Set aside for 15 minutes, then drain, discarding the liquid. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 5 1/2 cups of the dashi to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the miso and the remaining 1/2 cup of dashi, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
Add the carrot to the boiling dashi. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the carrot is crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the wakame, tofu, and scallions and simmer until heated through, about 1 minute.
Divide the miso mixture among serving bowls. Top the soup mixture and serve, passing the soy sauce at the table. Happy slurping!
Want to try making this yummy soup on your own? Order Ace’s organic white miso today and receive it by tomorrow at 10% off. Email your order to email@example.com or call (718) 784-6000. Be sure to mention this post for the discount!
Have you made this Clean Plates recipe before? Do you have another one you prefer? Comment below! We’re always eager for suggestions and feedback!
Images: Luna Adlerread more