Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market USA announced today in a press release that its central kitchen at the food retailer's Riverside County distribution center in Southern California has today produced prepared foods product number three million. We really aren't sure if that's a lot--61 stores, lots of different prepared foods skus, ranging from simple sandwiches to ready-to-heat entrees and all--but it sounds good.
The lead sentence of the press release--"Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's Kitchen today produced its 3 millionth product, a 17 ounce package of fresh & easy Mashed Potatoes, which retails for $1.99 and is made using only potatoes, milk, butter, cream, salt and pepper, without additives or preservatives"--should make the Governor of Idaho take notice and swell with pride.
For those not in the know, the potato is King--and Queen--in Idaho.
Whereas famous musicians like Sir Paul McCartney and supermarket chain CEO's like Tesco's Sir Terry Leahy are given the title of Sir by the Queen in England, were the Governor of Idaho to be given such royal authority by his state's constitution, he would most likely use it to knight potato farmers and other promoters of the famous Idaho spud. I pronounce you "Sir Spud," he might say.
In addition to the mashed spuds being prepared foods' item number 3 million to roll off the line at the distribution center kitchen, Fresh & Easy is introducing starting today 23 new prepared foods items in its 61 stores in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, says Fresh & Easy corporate chef Mike Ainslee.
Among the new prepared foods' items the chef is touting include: Shepard's Pie, Ratatouille, Meatloaf Dinner, Braised Beef and Chicken Breast Marsala. A member of the Fresh & Easy Buzz team happens to be a Shepard's Pie lover (no sheep jokes please), so we'll likely be hearing a review of that new item next time he gets into a Fresh & Easy store and picks one up.
Chef Mike, as either he refers to himself or as the PR person who wrote the release refers to him, created the recipes for all of the fresh & easy brand prepared foods items himself, including the 23 new items being introduced in the stores starting today.
There are lots of prepared foods' items under the fresh & easy store brand, so we take our caps (chef's hat is at the dry cleaner) off to chef Mike, as we know it isn't easy to create that many items in the time he's had to do so. Of course, consumers will be the judge as they always are, voting with their pocketbooks in terms of which of the many of the prepared foods items they like and thus buy on a regular basis.
The introduction of the 23 new prepared foods items (or kitchen items as the grocer calls them) in the 61 small-format combination basic grocery and fresh foods Fresh & Easy grocery markets is part of the retailer's program to introduce 250 new items into the stores over the next couple months, as we reported here.
These items include many more fresh, prepared foods items, along with new fresh & easy store brand products in other categories like fresh meats, grocery and others.
We have a suggestion for chef Mike: Since mashed spuds were prepared foods item number 3 million at the kitchen, how about a celebration?
Since Idaho's Governor unfortunately doesn't have the powers vested in him in the state's constitution to offer knighthood, how about awarding the 3 millionth prepared foods item--the mashed spuds--the title of "Sir Spud."
The mashed potato side dish could be awarded its title of Sir at an in-store ceremony, conducted in the same way the Queen does her official ceremonies. Royal peerage and all that stuff. Perhaps Sir Terry could officiate if available since he does carry the title. Or even better, maybe the Duke of York would be willing to make a return engagement to a Fresh & Easy store in order to conduct the ceremony. After all, he was at the Compton store for a mere grand opening.
Once awarded its title, the mashed potato side dish could then be preserved either by freezing or dehydration for historical purposes. For example, when kitchen item number 6 million is produced (perhaps it will be something that goes well with mashed potatoes), the royal spuds can be reconstituted for eating; the result being not only a historic, but royal meal.
Just a thought.