Around The Store With Stew
What Is “My Mother-In-Law’s Salmon”?
We had Chef Andrew Wilkinson visit from North Coast Seafoods. Culinary Institute of America graduate, Executive Chef in Germany, Japan, and finally the Rainbow Room in NYC. He’s full of stories and recipes. The one that I loved was about a glaze recipe called “My Mother-in-Law’s Salmon.” He mixes up 1 cup of dry mustard, 1 cup of sugar, and about a cup of warm water, then lets it “bloom” for about 30 minutes. He said it starts out sweet and ends with a “bite”! Just like my mother-in-law! We did a few other recipes that I think you’ll like. Here’s his recipe for Sweet & Smokey Grilled Salmon with Summer Salad using our very own cedar plank salmon rub. Learn his quick trick to check for doneness.
Westchester Wine & Food Festival – Guess How Much Bon Jovi’s Signed Bottles Fetched?
150 people gathered for a special Wine Collector’s Dinner at Restaurant X20 on the Hudson in Yonkers. Chef/owner Peter Kelly put on a superb menu of sea bass, duck, and short ribs. Everyone brought a bottle for the auction and the event raised nearly $50,000 for my family’s water safety foundation. Big thanks to Westchester Magazine for sponsoring, Liz at Thompson & Bender for an amazing sizzle reel on our Foundation (brought a tear to my eye again), Kevin Zraly, one of the top wine professionals I know and a great guy, and of course Chef Kelly who even bought one of the auction items! The only problem is our chefs in Yonkers didn’t win the Burger & Beer Blast the prior night! There’s always next year.
We auctioned off two magnums of Jesse Bongiovi’s Hampton Water Rosé along with guitars signed by his dad, Jon Bon Jovi. One package went for $900 and the other went for $950. Can you believe it?
What Items Should You Be Buying Now?
This is an amazing time for fruits and vegetables. We’re getting blueberries from New Jersey, Georgia Corn (moving North as the weather heats up), lots of local vegetables. New Jersey is hot right now. New York and Connecticut. will be coming in line soon. We have hooked up with over 50 local farms in New Jersey, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and Connecticut. If I can drive to a farm, have lunch and be home for dinner, IT’S LOCAL in my eyes! Also, California jumbo cherries are in season. Expensive at first, but prices are dropping. We sell jumbos at $5.99/lb. Smaller sizes sell for a lot less. Do you want to pay for a pit instead of the cherry meat? Watermelon is like eating candy right now. Yum.
Prime Hydration is continuing to grow. Social media sensation Logan Paul, who has millions of followers, is promoting it. It’s like a Gatorade-type drink. We brought in the new Prime Hydration Sticks that you simply mix into water, and in 4 days, we sold about 575 units. The phone is ringing off the hook asking for their new lemonade flavor.
We also just introduced another plush toy, a singing cow sung to the tune of Old McDonald’s Farm. We sold 100 on the first day!
We introduced Stoo-Puffs. They’re light and crispy corn puffs baked with aged white cheddar cheese, and you can’t stop eating them.
Gourmet Burgers We have a ribeye burger, Kobe beef, and bacon and cheese, but the bestseller is the filet mignon burger. Our butchers are experimenting with a jalapeño and cheeseburger right now. Light up your grill!
We’re also trying Strawberry Milk. It’s been selling like crazy.
Fathers With Sons Or Daughters Working At Stew’s. I Still Can’t Believe This Number
There are almost 50 fathers working at Stew’s who have their kids working here, too. And that’s just fathers. This doesn’t include moms. Which pairs have the most years combined? Newington Grocery Manager, Craig Makowski, 36 years, along with his kids Melody and Luke, who both work in the bakery. Fred Papp (31 years) runs our fish department in Yonkers and his son Chris is our executive chef in the kitchen there. Chris is also expecting his first child, a son, this October.
Good Luck To Our Weekend Warriors
It’s a team that Stew Leonard’s in Paramus, N.J., supports, and it’s made up of Paramus Department of Public Works employees. Playoffs start on June 18th!
What Has The Press Been Asking About? Here’s The
CNBC, FOX, and CNN all want to know about meat and egg pricing. Here’s the scoop. I called our egg supplier, who are a family-owned and operated business, and prices did jump earlier in the year because of bird flu. Retail prices escalated to record highs hitting up to $5.99 per dozen in January. Now, flock sizes are back to normal and egg prices have dropped. Retail-wise, they’re $2.69 a dozen currently and were $4.99 last March. Put eggs to sleep. Things are normal again.
Regarding meat. Just spoke to our rancher Shane Tiffany in Allen, Kansas. Shane said meat prices are up and it’s all due to supply and demand. He said everyone still wants beef, but his herd sizes are down due to the record drought. Can’t grow enough grass to feed a large herd of cattle. He’s also had to feed them more corn which has increased in price too. All in all, we are still promoting strip steaks for Father’s Day and burgers again will be a big item this 4th of July. Ground beef was $3.99/lb. last year and it’s $3.99/lb. this year. We get the best prices due to our volume and our pricing follows the market. Shane was also proud to tell me that his cousin Ransom just qualified for the National Saddle Bronco Riding Contest in Gillette, Wyoming. Just like the movies!
This Comment Stopped Me
In My Tracks
Our buyer, Paul, called me and said, “Our Christmas trees are safe!” Like for many of us, the wildfires in Quebec made national news, but it didn’t dawn on me that we have 50,000 Christmas trees growing there right now. I didn’t make the connection. Imagine Christmas without a tree?
Norwalk Renovation Is
Way Over Budget!
We finished the new bakery, coffee, ice cream and coffee departments. New fish cases were installed but still need to be tweaked. Coming soon is the new buffet, grilling station, pizza, and sushi departments. Permanent bathrooms are being built now. (Thanks for your patience with the trailers.) The problem is, every time we open a wall or ceiling, we find old pipes and wires. It’s like remodeling your kitchen at home. There’s a surprise around every corner and it’s costing us more. We’ve been in Norwalk for over 60 years and hope to be here at least another 60. It’s a future investment.
Team Member Tuesday - Sherton Harris
“Sherton Harris is an asset in your East Meadow store. Stew’s is lucky to have such a truly outstanding employee. He’s industrious, personable, and a pleasure to see. Sherton is terrific! Every time I visit the store, he’s fixing something, cleaning, or helping out a customer. Amazing!”
The Best Gift My Mom Has
We brought my Mom to lunch to celebrate her 91st birthday. We bought her a gold chain and put my father’s wedding ring on it. Of course, she cried and said, “I’m NEVER taking this off!” Her best gift ever.
First of all, thank you for your support with the swim school. We had a great grand opening party with a few hundred people and Olympian swimmer Rowdy Gaines joined us. We’ve had almost 1,000 kids sign up for lessons already. Thanks to the great team we have, it’s being handled so professionally. I’ve been hanging out there for a few hours every day since we opened and probably have met many of you. It’s therapeutic for me to sit there and see all the happy kids taking swim lessons. My son is looking down and I know he’s proud of us!
I’m Eating “Dad’s Favorite” Chocolate Chip Cookies on Father’s Day!
My father loved our chocolate chip cookies. He also loved milk chocolate. One day he asked my sister Beth to “double the chocolate chips and double the nuts.” Poof! Beth tried them in the store, and we found out that YOU LOVED THEM TOO! Milk and cookies for me on Father’s Day!
Goodbye Wine Cellar – Bittersweet – Most Expensive Bottle?
Guess what? After 25 years of collecting wine, we auctioned off our cellar through our friends at Zachys in New York. All of the proceeds are going into our Foundation for water safety. Kim and I had over 11,000 bottles and we would never be able to drink it all. Instead, why not turn that into swimming lessons for kids in need? We looked at a bottle that was worth $300 and said to each other, that’s the equivalent of 30 free lessons. LET’S SELL IT! We essentially turned our wine into pool water! Bittersweet memories. We have visited many, many wine cellars all over the world and the two most asked questions were what was the most expensive and the oldest wines we had. In our cellar, the most expensive bottle was a 1997 Romanee-Conti Grand Cru that went for 1,500 lessons. Whoops! I meant $15,000. The oldest bottle was a 1928 Chateau Latour for $3,200 or 320 lessons!
What Is The Hot Wine Right Now?
Rosé explodes at this time of year. We now have over 40 different Rosés, and they are not that expensive. We have many for under $20. As a great female winemaker in California told my daughter Blake and me once, “It’s okay to put ice cubes in your wine as long as you know, IT’S NOT OKAY TO PUT ICE CUBES IN YOUR WINE!” We’ve seen lots of great winemakers sneak a few ice cubes into their wine to cool it down. Another hot item that is just about on every table in Europe at this time of year is Aperol Spritz cocktails. It’s a great summer drink.
This was the fourth year that our Norwalk Team Members collected non-perishable food items for the Norwalk Open Door Shelter in memory of one of our longtime Team Members, Chris Arnette, who passed away in 2020 after working here at Stew’s for more than 42 years. I can still hear her laugh! Chris started out as a cashier, worked in our bakery and deli departments, and then was our recruiting manager for 35 years. She was known as “Mama” around the store because whether you needed a shoulder to cry on or a good laugh, Chris was always there. People just could not help but love Chris. As we were loading the 36 bags of food into the van for delivery, a customer asked what was happening. Two of our HR Team Members, Stacey and Silvy, explained that it was our annual food drive honoring our friend Chris. He said, “Wow, she’s an angel on earth.” That’s the truth!
Still Grieving Over
My Dad's Passing
We worked side by side for so many years and spoke on the phone almost daily. It’s a tough loss for our entire family. He was such a dominant force with our family and the community. For 93 years he had his foot firmly on the gas pedal. I’ve been writing daily about losing a loved one. I’m trying to make sense out of the emotions I’m feeling from losing a 2-year-old and a 93-year-old. I’ve even reached out to Andersen Cooper, who is doing a podcast on losing loved ones. So many customers have shared so many of their personal stories with me, too. Stay tuned. You might see a booklet about this in the stores.
M&T Commercials – We Surprised Our Bankers
We like to keep our bankers happy. They asked if we’d do a commercial for them and I agreed. They showed up with a crew of at least 15 producers, directors, camera people, lighting, and sound experts. They also had scripts for us to read. As we walked through the fish department, I grabbed a live lobster and laid it on the banker’s shoulder. I got his suit all wet and WOW was he surprised. Out of all the footage filmed that day, guess what showed up on the finished commercial? The lobster shot. It wasn’t even in the script!
A Mere 14 Seconds On TikTok – Shocking!
One of our “social media mafia” members, Dennis, in Danbury, did a quick video of our potato chopper. It takes a whole potato and instantly cuts them into fresh hand-cut French fries. In just a couple of days, it got over 2 million views on social media! Watch the video.