By Jacqueline Fox, Outreach Coordinator, Doylestown Food Co-op
A few weeks ago I was graciously received and welcomed by Joseph F. Talluto, Vice President, and Sara Serpe, Regional Sales Representative, of Talluto’s Authentic Italian Food, Inc. for a visit and tour of at their local headquarters in Folcroft, PA - a spacious 50,000 square foot facility.
While in the conference room, Joe’s father, President and CEO of the business, Joseph A. M. Talluto, made it a point to stop in and say hello. Before the plant tour, Joe Talluto, VP, recounts the history of the business, which is also posted on their website: Joe’s grandfather was a chef by profession and had a passion for Italian cuisine. He had a dream of opening his own ravioli store. In 1967, grandfather Joe sold his family’s home in Southwest Philadelphia for $7500 to purchase a $7400 ravioli machine, and moved his family of six into a building he owned “around the corner.” Joe Talluto was 60 years old, and at a time when most men his age were preparing for retirement, he was committed, both personally and financially, to pursuing his longtime dream.
What impressed me throughout the entire visit was the warmth, genuineness and transparency of a proud family business offering a range of quality products.
The plant tour was educational and fun! I had to don an oversized white coat and hair cap before entering the plant site to comply with USDA regulations. Everyone in the plant wears these. I learned that the USDA has an office onsite and was assured that the facility gets inspected regularly!
While there, I watched ravioli being cut and packaged. Each batch of pasta is carefully inspected and weighed prior to packaging. If something is slightly amiss, it gets recycled into the next run. The slight “errors” and “mishaps” also become ideas for new products – everything is used. Next, I watched the production of linguine being carefully cut by machine, then sized, folded, and packaged by hand.
I also watched pasta being made from scratch, starting with an employee - not a machine - cutting butter into slices and then adding the finest quality extra fancy durum wheat flour sourced from a milling company in North Dakota that is a distinguishing trademark of the Talluto’s yellow pasta into the mixture. Just opposite to this, a large block of Parmesan cheese imported from Italy was being freshly grated as part of the recipe. On the tour, I got to see one of only two manicotti machines in the country.
The plant includes a kitchen for cooking large batches of pasta sauce, another kitchen for research and development, a walk in freezer, a walk in refrigerator, a dry goods storage area, and a distribution preparation area. Every section was in pristine condition, and every section was – well, vast!
You will not find any additives or preservatives in the products. Talluto’s whole milk ricotta cheese with no added whey is made to their specifications by a local company. The consistency remains “fresh” and “full” by adjusting their butterfat content so that extra additives are not needed, as is the case with other producers who add guar gum and other stabilizers. Talluto’s uses local sources for their eggs, tomatoes and imported Romano cheese.
All of the Talluto’s ingredients that go into their recipes are considered “all natural on a handshake.” Currently, they do not offer gluten free products because they want to do it right — which is producing gluten free pasta in a separate facility. Consumer trust is paramount for them.
Talluto’s is a Buy Fresh, Buy Local partner as well as a PA Preferred member. Guided by their core values (Never Compromise, Family, Responsive, Unmatched Quality, Safety, Pursue Greatness), Talluto’s employs comprehensive food safety standards, including full product traceability, Safeline® metal detection, allergen cross-reference, and associated third-party audits. They have earned a Superior Award from the American Institute of Baking; several North American Packaging Association awards; and have recently been recognized as a small business innovator with the Governor’s ImPAct Award.
I hope reading this article inspires you to visit the Co-op for a sampling of the fine artisanal line of Talluto’s pasta the Co-op carries. There are two demo days and times scheduled for January: Friday, January 2, 3:30 - 6:30 pm; and Saturday, January 17, 12:30 - 3:30 pm. In addition, you will always find a nice selection of Talluto’s artisanal pastas in our freezer section. Do yourself a favor — give this delicious quality pasta a try!