Customer support has become increasingly important to the success of bakery businesses across the country. In some cases, this means additional resources in staffing, while others are expanding their customer visibility in unique ways.

Vulcan, the leading provider of commercial cooking equipment, recently welcomed Alex Ricciuti as the newest addition to the ever-expanding combi oven team. She will lead their field sales efforts as chef and combi business development manager – traveling across the country to promote Vulcan’s growing combi oven offering with a special focus on driving end-user interest and dealer support with new combi oven specific selling programs.

“Our combi oven business has been rapidly accelerating and we are excited to grow our product offering with Alex leading those efforts,” said Vulcan vice president and general manager Chris Stern. “Alex’s expertise comes to us at such an opportune time because she will be supported by a newly restructured Combi Technical Support Team and a growing number of in-house culinary resources as she works with reps in the field to target and secure combi oven opportunities in conjunction with Vulcan’s dealer network,” Stern stated.

Ricciuti began her career working under Chef Todd English at the Olives Group in Boston. She then founded Green Delicious Cooking Company, an award-winning Boston-area catering company providing chef services to on-location film productions. In 2015, Ricciuti was named Grand Champion of the Food Games, New York City – a competition put on by WCR (Women Chefs and Restaurateurs). She is also a member of the Culinary Board of sustainable seafood initiative Forever Oceans.

With Vulcan having the new TCM Combi Oven in stock and available, Ricciuti and the combi oven team will work to accelerate Vulcan’s combi oven growth – especially in the upcoming months.

Known for its great quality and reliability, Vulcan is setting the stage for its future by developing a new Center of Excellence, located in Baltimore, MD. This facility will host training, end user testing and other culinary experiences.  Vulcan is building its support teams at the center to include culinary, technical and sales personnel and will be investing in upgrading its facility, engineering lab and kitchen.

Shopping showcase

For other operations, new innovations include increased customer service in operations.

US Foods Holding Corp., for instance, announced plans to open two new CHEF’STORE locations in Visalia, California, and Lynchburg, Virginia. CHEF’STORE is a one-stop shop for restaurant operators, food industry professionals, community groups and at-home chefs to quickly stock up, replenish, or fill in ingredients and supplies in a variety of sizes and offerings.

The new stores will feature a wide selection of restaurant-quality products at wholesale prices, including fresh meat, produce, dairy and deli items as well as frozen seafood. Customers will also be able to shop for baking ingredients, beverages, catering essentials, janitorial supplies and other restaurant essentials, and no membership is required.

CHEF’STORE locations feature an assortment of thousands of food products including fresh meat, produce, dairy, and deli items. Customers will also be able to shop for grocery products, beverages, catering essentials, janitorial supplies, and other restaurant essentials. CHEF’STORE is owned by US Foods and offers 80 locations nationwide across 12 states.

Located at 4236 S. Mooney Blvd., the new 30,000-square-foot CHEF’STORE in Visalia will join 14 existing CHEF’STORE locations across California. The store offers more than 5,000 restaurant-quality products and opened on Feb. 19 with a grand-opening celebration

US Foods will bring its first CHEF’STORE location to the state of Virginia. Located at 2535 Wards Rd. in Lynchburg, the 24,000-square-foot retail store will offer more than 4,500 products and will open in spring 2022.

“We are excited to bring CHEF’STORE to the growing communities of Visalia in south-central California and Lynchburg in the Southeast region,” said John Mathews, vice president of sales and marketing for CHEF’STORE. “Whether you are an industry professional looking to fill in between your regular delivery orders or an at-home chef seeking restaurant-quality products, our teams look forward to welcoming all customers to CHEF’STORE for all of their culinary needs.”

US Foods acquired Smart Foodservice Warehouse stores in April 2020 to accelerate growth in the cash and carry market and rebranded all Smart Foodservice Warehouse stores to US Foods CHEF’STORE in February of 2021. With the addition of the two new stores, US Foods will own 82 locations across the continental United States. Stores are open to the public seven days a week.