Not Far from the Tree
Starting with a single truck in 1975, the Guzman family has grown Family Tree Produce into a distribution powerhouse that makes farm-to-fork eating a reality for Chef’d customers. We’ve dedicated this blog post to helping you learn more about where our fresh ingredients come from, and discovering the history behind Family Tree Produce.
Family Tree Produce has partnered with Chef’d since the inception of Chef’d two years ago. The family-run company has been essential in the creation of menus for our meal delivery kit company, according to Chef’d supply-chain director Krystal Moraga: “We collaborated with them for recipe development,” she explains. Chef’d now buys 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of produce a week from Family Tree. “They supply everything from apples to zucchini,” says Moraga. “Chef’d chose Family Tree because they were willing to partner with us and make the impossible possible."
Many of the items Family Tree supplies are packaged exclusively for Chef’d. “Herbs, for example, are portioned in small increments to accommodate our recipes,” says Moraga.
“Chef’d wanted to make sure we were bringing local ingredients to our customers, which is one of the foundations of Family Tree. We like how they work with small farmers and support the local community.”
Farm to Fork
Former chef Fidel Guzman founded Family Tree in 1975 when he spotted a niche for a new business while he was working in a restaurant kitchen. Started four decades ago with a single delivery truck, the company now has 110 employees. “Fidel saw the need for getting fresher produce directly from the grower faster so that it had a longer shelf life,” says David Figueroa, Vice President of Sales and Procurement. “That’s our model to this day.”
The farm-to-fork trip for delicate items like mushrooms or herbs can be as short as 24 hours, says Figueroa, so speed is of the essence to ensure peak freshness. The warehouse is cooled to a bone-chilling 38 degrees around the clock. Warehouse staff bundle up in jackets even when it’s in the 90s outside.
By 5 a.m. everything is inspected and sorted, and the 28 Family Tree Produce refrigerated trucks are loaded and ready to roll out to Chef’d and other clients, such as grocery stores, restaurants and institutions like California Polytechnic State University and Disneyland. By noon the bobtail trucks are unloaded at their destinations. Guzman’s persistent hard work has turned locavores’ dreams into reality by getting produce straight from the fields to customers quickly. Today, the Guzman family works directly with about 70 small and medium-size growers, most of whom are within 150 miles of Anaheim.
“People just want to know where their food is coming from—what its story is,” says David Guzman, the son of the founder who works in the buying department. “They feel good that it’s local.”
See more featured articles and recipes in the summer issue of our Chef'd Magazine!