Lansing Show

Lansing Show- Van Eerden Fall Food Show 2017

Van Eerden hosted their fourth food show of the year, the Lansing Show, at the Lansing Center on Tuesday, August 22nd. The show highlighted various products from dozens of vendors which allowed customers from all over the state to see the latest and greatest items. With the utilization of great conversations and fantastic technology, this show might have been the greatest show yet!

As usual, preparation for the Lansing Show started months in advance, as soon as the previous show closed up. The marketing team planned various decisions, such as location, theme and layout far ahead of time. Next, the Van Eerden team choose new items, hot deals and showcased items. Finally, they booked hotel rooms and Van Eerden employees and vendors started to arrive to set up. The day before the show included lots of hustle and bustle as final preparations finished up.

The Lansing Show

Doors opened to vendors and employees at 6am to start preparing the food they decided to serve. As the doors opened to customers at 9am,  the scent of fresh bacon, hot cookies, seared lamb filled the food show hall. Vendors had a plethora of food available to sample. There was something to taste for everyone of any diet.

With the assistance of the MealTicket software, the show provided more opportunity than ever. Vendors could check-in customers, order samples, book cases on the spot and show great deals on a handheld ipad. This made the show more interactive than ever and vendors and customers alike enjoyed the

opportunity. By the end of the day, the Lansing Show had more check-ins and cases booked than any show before it.

At the end of the day, customers, employees and vendors feel exhausted but excited at the same time. Each individual left the show with a success, be it cases booked, a great deal, or a profit earned. As Van Eerden employees packed up, they could only image the success they can create at the next food show.

going green food

Going Green for Earth Day

From the beginning, Van Eerden emphasized fresh food, launching as a fresh produce market. As time passed, we’ve widened our scope and gained customers along the way. Now, almost 100 years later, we offer thousands of food products, different kitchen cleaning supplies and various tableware products. Although our range of products has vastly expanded, we still offer a fresh approach. Earth Day is Saturday, April 22nd, to celebrate; we are sharing how we are going green.

Going Green with PROACT

Our vendor partner, PROACT, offers our customers superior and sustainable produce. Founded in 1991, PROACT, or “Product Regional Operators Advancing Cooperative Trade”, has spread throughout the nation servicing coast-to-coast distribution. With measured and monitored success, PROACT commits themselves to the success of over 50 customers, Van Eerden included.

PROACT’s ethics align with the Van Eerden fresh approach, especially the Greener Fields Together division. Greener Fields Together, a program created and operated by PROACT, focuses on two goals. They strive to implement sustainability practices to improve environmental impact as well as ensure the availability and safety of produce. Sound like something Van Eerden would capitalize on? Absolutely. Greener Fields Together has developed many initiatives to ensure that they meet their goals as an organization. They continuously improve impact areas whenever and wherever possible, including the growing, handling and distribution of produce. In addition, their strive for sustainability pushes local produce production which in return creates fresher products, benefiting Van Eerden and our customers alike.

Going Green with the Greener Business Bureau

For over a year now, we have been members of the Greener Business Bureau. The Greener Business Bureau, is a national organization aimed to empower businesses to contribute to a greener world. To become certified, we had to adhere to many qualifications. These qualifications include purchasing paper products from recycled materials and using lighting with occupancy sensors. In addition, our transportation department has many sustainable logistical practices. We love our planet and want to see it flourish. Becoming a member for the Greener Business Bureau has helped us reach this goal.

Almost a century later, Grand Rapids is still the home of Van Eerden Foodservice, and while both the city and the company have expanded, we have stayed true to the fresh approach concept. With the help of Greener Fields Together and the Greener Business Bureau, we commit to improving sustainability and the wellness of our planet. We stand behind our fresh approach and gladly provide you with the most sustainable produce, as well as office environment, in food service.


motivating staff

Motivating and Retaining Employees in the Foodservice Industry

The restaurant industry is full of high demand and high turnover. According to the National Restaurant Association the turnover rate in the foodservice industry increased from 66.7% in 2014 to 72.1% in 2015. This rate soars almost 30% higher than the national average for all private sectors.   A variety of different factors impact the turnover rate. These include age and frequent seasonal staffing as restaurant owners continuously struggle to keep employees engaged. Motivating employees may be the biggest struggle for employee retention in restaurants.

Tips to Motivating Employees

Surprisingly, engaging the entire department may be just as easy as engaging just one employee. According to a University of Michigan study, co-workers have the most impact on an employee’s work ethic and enthusiasm. Essentially, the positive energy from one employee will feed the rest of their co-workers with energy as well. This finding would then turn the attention from motivating each person individually to motivating the entire shift. An article written by QSR online’ s Ashish Gambhir  discusses the further details of the U of M study, and gives examples of how to increase employee motivation. This may take practice and time to implement but will be worth the effort in the long run.


VE Spring Show

Van Eerden 2017 Spring Show

This year’s Van Eerden Spring Show was a huge success and an event to remember. With almost 1000 guests, over a hundred vendors and aisles of VE Spring Showfeatured food, the show was a hit. The show took place in Grand Rapid’s own DeVos Exhibition and Performance Hall. Since this show would be the biggest in Van Eerden history, we had to plan an even bigger and better event than ever before. As customers from all over the state walked the aisles, we knew we had a success on our hands.

Preparation began months in advance, almost as soon as the fall show was over in October. For 2017, we decided to have one big show instead of two smaller shows so we had to bring the wow factor. The decision to bring the spring show to Grand Rapids was easy, as we enjoy hosting customers in the city that started it all. Booking the hotel and exhibition hall was easy, deciding the theme and layout, not so much. As the time passed, the show came together and before we knew it we started set-up for the VIP party the night before.

VIP Party at the Spring Show

On March 7th, we transformed the ballroom into a “Party in the Park”. Decoration started as early as 9am and within a few hours the park was complete. Rustic tables, overhead string lights and music filled the ballroom as customers entered in their formal attire. Dinner options were plentiful. Multiple vendors served a variety of dishes including tuna tartare, smoked salmon, roasted chicken, colorful salads and more. For dessert, customers consumed anything from chocolate cake to boozy ice cream. Even at closing time, the park still buzzed with excitement. No one wanted the party to end.

The Spring Show Main Event

At 6am the trucks rolled in and set-up began. Vendors took their booths while employees started organizing the main market. This year’s show featured new software, presentations and aisles of food. As guests arrived, they saw a huge display of a market, featuring fresh fruits and vegetables and a variety of seafood. Since Van Eerden started as a produce food truck, the market theme fit. Our customers felt equally impressed. Nick Trahair, from AmericInn, states, “I was very impressed with your show.  Much like your company – it was organized and everyone had a great attitude and very helpful and welcoming”.

This Spring Show became more innovative with the inclusion of MealTicket. This new software allowed customers to register online, book items in advance and check-in electronically with vendors. Tracking the success of the show was easier as well. With live updates, sales reps could see which customers made purchases throughout the day.

Each hour the center stage hosted a variety of presentations, all regarding the latest trends in the food industry. Presentations included topics on incorporating eggs to an all-day menu, vegetables, healthy eating, the beverage revolution, new Asian cuisine and waste reduction. Each presentation lasted a half hour and left guests with many new ideas. In addition, customers could visit the Sweet Street food truck, or visit on of the many vendors to try their latest food items.

As the show came to a close, customers and vendors both could feel the success of the show. Once the customers left, we donated any leftover food to the Grand Rapids food bank. Although everyone felt exhausted, we knew we put on a successful event for everyone involved. As much work as the show is for all, we at Van Eerden are more than happy to see it unfold.


Mardi Gras

Celebrating Mardi Gras with Food

Mardi Gras has roots in Christianity, Roman paganism and French history. The Romans celebrated fertility with the beginning of spring, but early Christians transitioned the festival to mark the prelude of the Lenten season. These Mardi Gras Creole foodcelebrations continued through the Middle Ages in France. As the French explored the New World, they settled and named the land “Point du Mardi Gras” to commemorate the celebration. This location is known today as New Orleans. Although a two-week celebration, most festivities take place the day before Lent, otherwise known as “Fat Tuesday”.  Hundreds of years have passed and Mardi Gras ranks as one of the most celebrated festivals in the United States.  Along with traditions such as masks, beads and parades; Mardi Gras is also famous for its delicious food.

Traditional Mardi Gras Food

Cajun and Creole foods dominate Mardi Gras menus. These cuisines mix traditional French foods with the meats, vegetables and grains available in Louisiana. Dishes like gumbo, crawfish etouffée and po’boys demonstrate how these cuisines come together to create the flavors people love. Often named the child of bouillabaisse, gumbo combines different meats, vegetables and broth to create a stew-like dish, served over rice. Gumbo has become one of the most popular dishes served during the celebration. Crawfish etouffée is also a stew, combining the Louisiana shellfish with a more French style cream cooking. A po’boy combines the cuisines by setting fried shrimp (a southern favorite) in a hearty slice of French bread.

While these dishes are most famous, other Cajun and Creole dishes gain popularity during Mardi Gras festival. For those unable to make the journey to New Orleans, restaurants everywhere can serve up traditional Mardi Gras dinners.  Consider creating a dinner special for the celebration, or the week leading up, highlighting these traditional flavor-filled New Orleans meals.

 Mardi Gras beingnetsMardi Gras Desserts

In addition to savory foods, Mardi Gras celebrates through drinks and desserts as well. Native to France, beignets made their way to New Orleans.  Similar to donuts, these fried puffs of dough are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and generally consumed with coffee. In addition to beignets, serve King Cake; the most traditional Mardi Gras dessert. King Cake combines brioche bread with cinnamon date filling, topped with icing and purple, green and gold sprinkles. According to tradition the cake holds a baby figurine. Whoever holds the slice that contains the baby will have good luck for the coming year.

To drink, serve Milk Punch. This simple drink is popular in both New Orleans and the Deep South.  king cakeShake milk, bourbon and vanilla with ice for a delicious cold drink. Top with cinnamon or nutmeg for a little extra kick. Beignets, King Cake and Milk Punch can all be found on a variety of Mardi Gras menus.

Although Mardi Gras celebrations and parades take place in New Orleans, any restaurant can serve traditional New Orleans food. Create a special menu featuring Cajun and Creole foods to highlight these unique New Orleans flavors. Consumers are very likely to splurge on this notorious “Fat Tuesday”. Create a delectable dessert menu as your customer will feel less guilty about ordering something sweet. This Mardi Gras, make sure your customers know they can celebrate with their favorite New Orleans foods at your restaurant.

2017 Food Trends- The Rise of Vegetables

As food trends emerge, vegetables have become a mainstay in several dishes in restaurants. Several factors play into the growing population of vegetables and vegetarian meals. Vegetable DishMany Americans have become more health conscious, looking for ways to incorporate healthy living into their food. The cost and sustainability of meat has also played a factor in customers consuming less meat and more vegetables. In 2016, vegetables entered the food scene with a bang and will not disappear any time soon.

Vegetables in Diets

Many customers in today’s culture follow strict diets, but do not want to stop dining out. Especially true for Millennials, who consider themselves trend and diet followers, but also view dining out as a social experience. In fact, vegan or gluten-free food resonates especially well for this generation. For those who follow the paleo diet, vegetable noodles

Veggie Pasta

substitute great for pasta in many dishes. In fact, the National Restaurant Association lists this pasta trend in the top 25 overall. Cauliflower has also entered a variety of meals through the means of cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza crust. For vegetarians and vegans, vegetables have always served as a main dish.  Vegetarian meals such as black bean burgers and eggplant parmesan are just a couple of these classics. Now with the growing vegetarian population, chefs have learned to love cooking without meat.

Vegetables in Ethnic Cuisines

In the United States, meat and potatoes are a mainstay; however taste bud curiosity has driven Americans to step outside the normal American cuisine.  Ethnic food has Greek Veggie Burgercertainly made its way into various restaurants, showcasing a variety of new dishes with a vegetable focus. With the rise of ethnic food, chefs have integrated many vegetarian meals on to their menu. These cuisines have taught American chefs and consumers that a delicious hearty meal does not need traditional meat protein. Many cultures do not even consider their dishes vegetarian, just delicious, robust meals. The use of various herbs and spices has taken center stage as well. The use of ethnic flavors intend to spice up vegetables, making sure customers do not miss the meat.

With the growing popularity of vegetables in American restaurants, look for ways to make customers want to come back for more. Whether substituting veggies for grains or going meatless; give customers plenty menu options in regards to vegetables. Trend analysts expect ethnic vegetarian cuisine and plant-based proteins to continue to grow in popularity in 2017. Explore different spices, play around with different recipes and you will find a vegetable-based meal the customer will love.