We are not trying to please multiple audiences, and therefore, we are not being pulled in multiple directions when it comes to making decisions about what to buy.
SFB began in 1989, when no one knew what radicchio or shiitake mushrooms were. Back then, we were Boston's only supplier for these and other hard-to-find items that creative chefs were craving. The world is a lot smaller now, but we remain focused on finding food that's new, inspiring, and most importantly, delicious. Most of our staff are former chefs or just passionate foodies, who get just as excited about an amazing peach or a funky new orange as you do.
A commitment to staying small
We've grown a lot since 1989, but we've also made a conscious decision to grow slowly, and we are not unwilling to turn away new business if we think that would force to compromise our service or our quality. Our larger competitors sell to some great restaurants, but they also sell to national chains, fast food restaurants and retail stores. And because of that, they have to meet lots of different standards and cater to lots of different priorities. But we only sell to chefs like you, so we only have to be one thing. And that is, simply put, to sell really great food to really great restaurants, and to procure and deliver it in the best possible way.
A Focus On Flavor
Most of the commercial produce industry exists to serve retail stores, which is where most produce gets sold.
But supermarkets want food that looks nice, lasts a long time and comes in a pretty package. What we care about is food that is delicious. We look for smaller growers, foragers and local farms that share these values, and we work the best with chefs that share these values as well.
Overnight shipping from all over the world has blurred the lines between seasons and made many things available year-round. But the fact that they're available doesn't make them good.
Today’s Produce Today
Most companies benefit from economy of scale: if they bring in five pallets of lettuce on Monday, and sell them all week, they’ve made money and saved time, because they only had to “go shopping” once that week and they are able to give you things a few cents cheaper per pound.
But then you’re getting Monday’s lettuce on Friday.
Think of Us as a Partner
How can we do it better?
We ask that question every day. How can we get fresher corn - and get it to you in hours, instead of days? How do we make sure that your avocados are always ready to eat? What are the best chefs in San Francisco using, that might not have found it's way to the East Coast yet? That's what drives us.
We're pretty good at finding things. In fact, many of our favorite products became part of our line because a chef asked us to find them. "I had some beautiful watercress at Lucques in LA, can you get it for me?" or "I had some amazing olives at Marea in NY, can you find them?" These are calls we love to get.
"No" is our last answer.
When something is unavailable, the easiest thing for a supplier to do is to write "out of stock" or "not available" and be done with it. But that's not the way we look at it. We'll reach out to you early and offer you suggestions and alternatives. We also don’t like to hand you a problem without proposing a solution, so if we have something that we think might work instead, we call ready to offer it to you. We know that another funky washed-rind cow’s milk cheese might be a good replacement for Epoisses.