I have been working in the produce industry for about 25 years now and very few industry folks are familiar with my other careerin food; specifically culinary education, food writing and recipe development. I have published countless recipes and written extensively on how to choose and use almost every varietal of vegetables and fruits as well as many other food items. I have taught everyone from kindergarteners to Wholefoods executives about organic, sustainable, local and fairly traded fruits and vegetables and, most notably, herbs.
My produce roots are strong in fresh herbs, as is my culinary strength. It’s fair to call me an herb expert (also fair to call me a mango expert) in the culinary world and those that know my herbal prowess know that above all else, I am a sauce master. I’ve made hundreds of sauces in my years and I make them all exceptionally good and rarely the same. So, it’s no wonder when I started working with Crespo Organic mangoes and developing recipes for the Crespo Organic Kitchen, sauces would materialize. And that they did!
An Interview with Brian Dey
Senior Merchandiser & Natural Stores Coordinator, Four Seasons Produce, Inc.
While it’s true that Cinco De Mayo is less a real holiday in Mexico and more a symbolic celebratory event for Americans, there is a significant rich historybehind the day and how it has come to honor the Mexican culture, people and food. As our Cinco de Mayo campaign #CelebrateMexico #CelebrateMangoes nears its peak celebratory days, we thought we’d ask one of our industry’s best produce merchandisers, Brian Dey, for thoughts and advice for this retail extravaganza.
Dey is the Senior Merchandiser and Natural Stores Coordinator for Four Seasons Produce in Ephrata, PA. He has been involved on the retail level of produce for over 33 years and has been with Four Seasons for over 22 years. He has logged substantial hours in almost every position in the produce department—from produce clerk to produce manager. With Four Seasons, he has worked a variety of merchandising positions including Produce Coordinator and Produce Merchandiser. Now, as Senior Merchandiser, he credits his success to an “extreme passion for produce and achieving excellence in growing relations and building sales with a subnational focus on in-store training.” His experience at the store level, in multiple and diverse venues, provides him with the insight and relationship skills needed to create in-store success for the multiple products that Four Seasons Produce provides to its customers.
Let’s start with the most important part of the history behind Cinco de Mayo. Contrary to popular belief, it is not Mexican Independence Day. It’s a day that has becomea symbolic holiday for Americans celebrating what they imagine to be the spirit of Mexico and Mexicans. It’s also a day that has exacerbated stereotypes of Mexicans and Mexican culture for too long. It’s because of the later reason that we choose to #CelebrateMexico within our space in the mango industry to help educate where we can, hopefully clearing up some misconceptions along the way.
Cinco de Mayo is barely a holiday in Mexico. It’s mostly celebrated in Puebla, as that’s where the Mexican Army defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In 1961, Napoleon III tried to carve an empire out of Mexican territory, and a well-armed French fleet entered into Veracruz and drove the Mexican government north into retreat.
Tricky transitioning of regions in Mexican mango season- south to north
The Mexican mango season lasts for about nine months and is made up of 7 different regions, eight if you separate Los Mochis, as most do. Los Mochis is USDA sanctioned “fruit fly free zone” and therefore the hot water baths (hydro-thermic treatment) is not necessary making the Los Mochis region unique in the Mexican mango spectrum.
Under The Mango Tree is a sweet spot, where I, a long time mango industry crackerjack, share everything I know. A place to find mango centric, agricultural, food and culture knowledge and a few juicy industry secrets and lies.