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Fresh Master

Produce guru Bill Fujimoto brings what's fresh and in season to Diablo Foods.


Published:

Joe Budd

When Diablo Foods owner Dan Collier heard that the produce guru from the famed Monterey Market in Berkeley might be looking for a job, he reached out immediately. Lucky for Collier, Bill Fujimoto accepted a consulting position. Since then, Fujimoto has overhauled the fruit and vegetable program, based on his three decades of experience supporting small, sustainable farmers—work that has put him in the same category of Bay Area food pioneers as Alice Waters. 

Season to Taste: Fujimoto’s produce philosophy is guided by seasonality and flavor. Rather than stocking mass-produced, picture-perfect fruit, Fujimoto focuses on superb flavor, even if that means aesthetic flaws. His advice to home cooks? “Let what’s fresh dictate your menu, not the other way around.”

 

Early Bird Gets the Chard: Getting the choicest produce isn’t easy. As a consultant for Diablo Foods and a local restaurant supplier, Fujimoto is generally up before 2 a.m., making calls to wholesale markets. From 3 to 5 a.m., he can be found on the road, visiting with wholesalers to “gather intelligence” on what’s fresh and who has it. From 6 a.m. until noon, Fujimoto is at Diablo Foods, helping stock that day’s bounty. After a long afternoon nap, he’s back at it, tracking weather patterns to factor into the equation for what’s available.

Winter Checklist: What to shop for in January:

Roots and Greens
» Roots (parsnips, beets, turnips) and winter greens (kale, chard) are at their best in the winter months.

Citrus
» January is a peak month for such bright-tasting favorites as lemons, navel oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, and clementines.

Fall Leftovers
» We think of apples, pears, and squash as fall produce, but all three actually store well for months, and in some cases (like the supertart Black Twig apples), the taste can actually improve with age. 

 

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