We asked Prepared Foods Manager Sam Witte & she delivers!
VFC: The pandemic changed how our customers shop as well as how we operate. What challenges has the Deli Department faced in the past year?
Sam: At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to close some of our most popular services including the hot bar and the salad bar. We knew it was important to continue to provide hot and nutritious food and had to get creative about how to bring some of those services back. We currently have hot meat and vegetarian options on the hot bar daily and will be adding some family-sized portions later in the day. We have also seen a lot of success with pre-made salads in the grab-n-go, in both the single-serve and the family sizes. It is encouraging now to see people get back into regular routines.
Our more recent challenges have been staffing and the availability of packaging. We have had to pivot a lot to make things work. I am so grateful for the wonderful team I work with who have stepped up in all kinds of ways to make sure we are able to provide delicious food for our community.
VFC: What’s new on the menu this fall?
Sam: We are altering some of our hot bar offerings, adding a seasonal maple roasted butternut squash to the meatloaf entrée, and replacing the plain rice with fried rice to our teriyaki chicken. We are also adding new entrées to the rotation including a curry dish, with either chicken or tofu, served over rice.
Based on the success of our pizza program, we continue to expand our take-n-bake options. We now have meat or spinach lasagna in ready to bake 8" pans, as well as chicken or bean & cheese enchiladas. When we did a test run of these in early August, the take-n-bakes sold out within hours so we knew we
had a winner!
Our goal is to make our grab-n-go quick and easy to shop. You can stop in and pick up an entrée and a salad or sides to go without even moving your feet!
VFC: What are your best sellers?
Sam: Our made-to-order Burrito Bar has been a steady best-seller. From the deli counter, the Korean Reuben with Kimchi is a timeless favorite. In our bakery, our seasonal muffins are what everyone seems to love!
VFC: What you are most excited about?
Sam: It’s almost pie season! As a trained pastry chef – I get excited about making pies! Starting in November, we will have pies from the bakery available in a variety of seasonal flavors including: Pumpkin, Apple Crumb, Brown Butter Pecan, French Silk, Crumble Berry, Blueberry Crumb, and Lemon Meringue.
VFC: What’s your favorite thing about working at the Viroqua Food Co+op?
Sam: Oh, definitely making food that makes our customers happy!