Take the Longo Way Home
Perhaps it was providence or tempting the fates but I guess since I’ve been doing a few food blogs up in this house it was only a matter of time until I went to a food related event.
I got invited by Mansfield to the press conference and pre-opening of the new Longo’s in Maple Leaf Square and boy did they pull out the stops with this new location. They have the biggest cheese store in Toronto and pretty much cut and smoke and prepare everything in store. Everything is gourmet and you can spend an entire day in there with all the little distractions and things to eat.
When I was a kid you would go to the grocery store to get milk and eggs and get home to mama before she hit you with a wooden spoon for taking too long. I’m sure little Italian kids with grocery lists will be getting their lumps when they lose themselves in what can’t even be called a grocery store any more. Instead Longo’s has made what I can only describe as a family-owned amusement park of food.
When my dad and I used to go shopping in leaner times we would pride ourselves in knowing how to select good fruit and vegetables because at most supermarkets you would have to kind of dig around and pick out the good pieces amidst a lot of produce that is either not ripe yet or past its prime. I was originally going to have Sean film me in the produce section of the store as I did a tutorial on how to choose produce but as you will see from the picture above, Longo’s has taken care to make sure that everything is perfect. Apparently they go every morning at 6am to the Ontario Food Terminal and get first pick! So not fair! I can’t brag anymore!
Seriously though, I think it’s charming how despite Longo’s being a big market nowadays, they’re still owned by a nice Italian family who hand select their employees as carefully as they do their produce. I say this in earnest because I got to meet Anthony Longo and his kin at the event and he’s a really humble guy who cares about his business.
I had never met him before so I had no idea that the guy serving me coffee was the President and CEO of Longo’s till later! During our tour of the store I noticed an older gentleman in an expensive Italian suit helping the workers clear cardboard and clean up around the store. It happened to be Anthony’s uncle, Gus Longo. That’s how a family runs a multi-million dollar business.
Go to a Longo’s and just try to find tobacco, tabloids, fried items or ethically questionable food (i.e. shark steaks) and you simply will not. The decision to omit these items was a decision made by the Longo family with social and health consciousness.
I still got my wooden spoon lumps when I took too long with the groceries. Also a long-standing Italian family value.
Going to share a recipe that I made up with a few things I picked up from the store in the next couple days. Stay tuned.
Special thanks to Rob Koss and Jerry Buligan for their tour of the store.