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Feeding the Community with Good Food Works

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We at James Calvetti Meats believe that it’s more important than ever to give back and help those affected by recent crises. That’s why we are thrilled to support Good Food Works’ important work of getting meals to those in need. We have donated 459 boxes (nearly 8,000 pounds) of ready-to-eat BBQ beef and chicken, and ready-to-cook meatloaf. This is an incredible organization and we want to share with you a bit more about the work they do.

“We’re working really hard to feed the community,”

says Jennifer Parker, Executive Director at Good Food Works. Good Food Works Foundation is the non-profit division of Hopkins and Company, a hospitality group in Atlanta, Georgia. 

“Hopkins and Company has been involved in giving back to the community forever. What happened with COVID-19 is we had this facility and realized there were a lot of people going hungry. We mobilized our team to help. On May 1st, we incorporated Good Food Works. It was born out of COVID-19 but we are committed for the long haul,” says Jennifer.

Good Food Works has been feeding the community since March.

They have served more than 75,000 wholesome, nutritious meals and distributed them through various organizations. One of these organizations is Emory’s Feed the Frontline Project which distributes 2,400 meals a week to doctors, nurses, medical workers, and first responders. 

Now, Good Food Works is shifting into its summer program that will feed 2,500 families each week with a “Good Food Summer” kit. Each kit includes enough food for 4 people so over the course of 8 weeks they will feed 80,000 people through Boys and Girls Club in Atlanta.

The donation from James Calvetti Meats will directly support this effort: “This donation is wonderful and we are so grateful. Your food arrives just in time for our summer nutritional assistance program and I am sure it will make a huge difference in the lives of the children we are reaching out to,” says Jennifer. “We even rented some extra storage space so we could take all of Jamie’s products.” 

“This summer, we will NOURISH the families of Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta by providing delicious healthy food, EDUCATE club members with fun nutritional information and engaging cooking classes, while we SUPPORT local Georgia farms by purchasing more than 50% of the program’s ingredients through The Common Market.” 

We at James Calvetti Meats are deeply thankful to Good Food Works for the incredible work they are doing to help the community. Learn how you can help support their mission. 

Do What You Can Do

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All my life, for one reason or another, I’ve never been able to stay in one place for very long. This works to my advantage – I physically move all day long, walking around the plant, seeing what’s happening – and my brain is always moving, trying to figure out changes and how we can innovate and reapply concepts. I’m asking myself, “What’s working? What’s not? How can we change?”

It’s a scary time in the world right now. People in our industries are taking a hit but it doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything about it. Right now is the time to consider how you can reapply your skills and diversify.

Look at your niche

It’s great to have a niche and be known for something – you want to be the person who people know they can rely on for great products (especially in the food industry, you’ll always remember a great meal). 

So, you never want to let go of your niche – but is there a way to apply it to what’s happening now? Over time, no matter what is going on, your niche is going to change. You can’t be afraid of change – use it to your advantage. Take this time to figure out what you do best and apply it where you can. There are always people in need, no matter what, so you have to do what you can do.

Look for opportunities

We can’t go out and network like we used to but there are opportunities available. Now is the perfect time to brush up on your virtual networking skills. Use tools like LinkedIn to connect virtually. Sending a message, even just to check in, can mean the world to some people. They’ll remember that. 

Look for eligibility. For small businesses, inquire about loans and grants that may help. There may be resources available to you during this time that you weren’t aware of until now. 

Now is the time for collaboration

No, you’re not going to change people’s natures overnight. If people weren’t willing to collaborate with you before, they may not now. But the people who wanted to work with you before this – they likely will still want to. All you have to do is ask

The saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” but it applies to adversity as well. If you’re facing adversity, as businesspeople, we need to be willing to look for change, look for opportunities. When your revenue is diminished, you need to look for other streams. 

Reach out to sources you already know. Figure out what you have, what you can bring to the table, and always ask how you can help. You may create something together you wouldn’t have even thought of before separately.

What can you do?

Now is the time to take stock, figure out what you have, and look for the ways you can innovate and reapply your skills. Look for collaboration opportunities and figure out how you can use what you already have to help and create something new. 

Now is the time to work harder and smarter – we’ve been through ups and downs in business before and we will make it through this, too. Don’t be afraid to do what you can do and add value – it’s what we need right now. 

My Life as a Cat Herder

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cat herder

Remember that meme from a couple of years ago? The one that said, “What I Think I Do” vs what everyone else thought you did? I am an entrepreneur – always have been and always will be. But when someone asks me what I do I say,  “I herd cats.”

It would be nice to travel at 30,000 feet and divine trends.  But when you are an entrepreneur like me, it’s easy to end up in the weeds, like a cat, dealing with day-to-day adventures. 

Because I am the owner of the business, I need to see the bigger picture no matter what’s happening. It’s my job to envision and facilitate what’s needed to take us to the “Next Level.” How can you get it done when there are so many people to manage?

Trust and develop your team

At Calvetti Culinary Creations, we set schedules and really try to stick to them. But you know how that goes sometimes. That’s when I go into cat-herding mode, just like those cowboys in that old commercial.  When things start to “tilt,” I start herding. I check in, ask questions, and do my best to get us back on track without squelching creativity and initiative. 

Get a reality check

It’s always a good idea to have a team member that will shoot straight with you. And I have one of the best.  Cathy Hayes in my office is that person. She’s our Vice President of Customer Success (how do ya like that title?). She’s been with us for longer than either of us would like to admit.  Cathy is the person I go to for a reality check when I am managing the chaos. She sees the glass as half-full, and I sometimes I am not so sure. So we’re always balancing each other out, and that’s incredibly helpful. 

Understand what they’re doing and why

In 1975, Bob Dylan got together with a bunch of musician friends and went on tour as The Rolling Thunder Revue.  Sometimes that’s what it feels like we’re doing as a team. We’re a bunch of talented people on a bus, traveling from town to town, putting on an intimate show for our customers. Like Bob – It’s my job to keep everyone together and make sure we do a great show each and every night.  I gotta herd those cats while at the same time keep the “Big Picture” in mind. 

We are always learning and I’m always herding because it works! 

Truth be told, I think I am a better leader than I was even 5 years ago when we started Calvetti Culinary Creations. I attribute that to working as a team member and team leader. I’m no longer the Lone Ranger or the smartest guy in the room. I make it a point to hire people who know more than me. When I’m in cat-herding mode, I think, “What can I learn from these cats?” As a leader, I should always be learning – and your team will always have something to show you. I know they have things to offer me, and I know that I have something to offer them, so it’s a matter of offering our differences in the right way – and in the end, everyone improves.

Have a tip for herding the cats in your business? Share it with me!

Calvetti Culinary Creations Spotlight: Carlos Chavez, VP of Operations and R&D

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Carlos Chavez, our Vice President of Operations and R&D, has been with us for nine years. He’s always on the lookout for innovative trends and appreciates the fact that the culinary industry is always changing: “Flavors, seasonings, cooking methods are in constant movement.  As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus used to say, ‘Change is the only constant in life.'”

How the industry has changed

It’s this change that inspires him daily, and he appreciates that the rules aren’t as static as they used to be. “The culinary industry and the R&D of the past used to be guided by strict rules.  Now the industry is shedding those rules. The thought is, if it tastes good, who cares if you are mixing African spices with South American ingredients? At the end of the day, have you created something special?” When he’s coming up with ideas, he looks to his Peruvian roots and the chefs who have inspired him. “Gaston Acurio, Virgilio Martínez, and Mitsuharu Tsumura. They taught me that when it comes to food, you should always be creative, fearless, and a rule breaker.”

“We always say we’ll give it a try.”

When he’s at work, he especially appreciates the culture we’ve built here and is constantly amazed by our team work, tenacity, and creativity. “We never say it can’t be done; we always say we’ll give it a try.”

And outside of Calvetti, Carlos enjoys spending time with his family, first and foremost, though he geeks out on technology: “I love computers, programming, and design.” He also maintains an active lifestyle as well, playing racquetball and soccer, and going running or for long walks.

We’re proud to have Carlos on our team!

How to Make Things Happen in Your Business

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As a company leader, you’ve got a lot of tasks to take care of day-to-day when you’re running the place. At the same time, you’re thinking of the long-term, big picture moves that will benefit you and your entire team. So how do you decide how to make things happen in your business? When should you depend on your team, when can you make an executive decision on your own, and how do you know when to take risks?

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What’s The Best Beef?

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If someone asked you, “What’s the best beef?” the answer might depend on where you’re from. A large majority of Americans favor grain-fed, while Australians love grass-fed, and Japan is known for wagyu. When it comes to buying the best beef, what do you usually go for at the supermarket or if you buy online? A lot of us think back to our mom’s recipes and try to get the product that will produce that same taste. Some of us worry about the cut and grade. But even if you’re going for nostalgia or trying something new, there are so many options when it comes to red meat and a lot of it comes down to the diet of the cow. Red meat is one of the best sources of protein out there and is full of heme iron, zinc, and various B-vitamins. And in today’s market, there are so many choices out there depending on where you live and what you like. Is there a difference between organic and grass-fed? What about wagyu? What are the tastes like? Let’s talk about the differences and why you will see differences in taste.

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Our Food Manufacturing Vision for 2019 and Beyond

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food manufacturingRecently, we’ve started working on some exciting projects at JC Meats, Inc. and Calvetti Culinary Creations. We’ve partnered with local businesses and large corporations in roles from R&D to full-service food manufacturing. These opportunities challenge us in the best ways and make us more creative. Every day, we’re finding new ways to bring culinary innovation to the forefront – and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Read More