Price Chopper Holiday Cheer Entertaining Event

Price Chopper invited local bloggers to a holiday entertaining event today – so I’m here at Price Chopper Holiday Cheer Showcase to experience all of the wonderful food they have to offer in the upcoming holiday season. Liz Lisuzzo is introducing many of the important people here, including Jerry Golub, Mona Golub, and Heidi Reale.

Jerry Golub says that the reason this building exists is because of their stores and their customers. The conference room at the Price Chopper Corporate Headquarters in Schenectady, New York is all decked out in holiday decorations. I love the snowflakes on the midnight blue backdrop that covers the windows. Jerry asked for a show of hands for how many people have been negatively affected by weather-related events over the last few months – from flooding to power outages. Price Chopper’s goal is to be our #1 resource to help celebrate the holidays and create holiday traditions.

There are tables set up around the room with various holiday foods and platters. We have an hour and 15 minutes to explore what they have to offer. It’s going to be tricky the liveblog this!

My first stop was for chocolate covered pineapple and apple cider. Price Chopper’s apple cider is made from New York apples. And Mona Golub, who just picked up some chocolate I dropped on the floor, told us the story of how the chcoolate covered pineappe came to be. A few years ago, the large dipping strawberries were hard to come by, and one of the store producer managers knew that customers would be coming in looking for chocolate covered fruit for the holidays, He looked around and decided on the pineapple. Now it’s being offered chain-wide!

Chocolate Covered Pineapple

My next stop was the Certified Angus Beef table. They have a split strip roast made from splitting NY Strip Steak, and it’s absolutely delicious. I’m currently sampling that along with spoon roast and rib roast. They are all quite good, but it’s all cooked medium rare, and I prefer medium to medium-well. Certified Angus Beef is the best grade of beef you can buy in the country. Price Chopper is the largest retailer of Certified Angus Beef in the Northeast, and the second largest in sales in the country.

So many tables I didn’t get a chance to specifically blog about because I was stuffing my face… cheese, bakery, Price Chopper corporate brands…

Stuffed brie with pastrami, hot ham, and prosciutto… I think I’m in heaven. If we don’t get a copy of this recipe to take home, I’m going to email them. It was that good. There aren’t many fancy foods I like, but this really wowwed me.

How to Create a Cheese Board

We’re getting a demonstration from Chris Boyle on how to create a beautiful cheese board for holiday guests. There are thousands of cheeses…where do you start? Talk to your Price Chopper cheese clerks, who will be happy to talk to you about cheese and offer samples to let you choose the right cheeses for you.

A Lovely Cheese Board with Grapes

Creating a cheese board is like selecting wine. Think about your desired flavor profile. Start on the mild side – perhaps a brie or a triple creme – and work your way up to something sharper. Not everyone likes the rind, so yuo should remove the rind from one side so guests can choose from whichever side they want. Manchego is a sheep cheese that can age from three months to a year. It gets earthier as it ages. We tried a nine month aged cheese today. It used to be made in a basket. Normandies come next – we have a Gruyere with Cheddar and walnut, France’s version of processed cheese. Always make sure your cheese sits out for about an hour, because it tastes better at room temperature. Kerry Gold Irish Cheddar is next, a wax cheese made with whiskey. (I just tried some…it is exceptional.) His boldest cheese is Old Dutch Gouda. He says it’s highly palatable and melts in your mouth. (I’m loving this one, too!) Grapes, nuts, fig paste, fig cakes, and chutney all complement the cheese board.

Local, local, local. Price Chopper tries to acquire local cheeses to support farms in a certain radius of their stores.

The Split Strip Roast and Other Beef

David McVain is the Vice President of Certified Angus Beef. CAB is owned and operated by an association of independent farms. Angus is the breed of animal; Certified Angus Beef is like the Mercedes-Benz of Angus beef, the top 12% in quality beef globally. The age of the animal has everything to do with the tenderness of the meat. If there is no extramuscular fat in the beef, there is no flavor. How does the animal get that marbling? The cows eat mostly grass, but toward the last 100-125 days, they are fed corn for the starch that will create the marbling.

What is a spoon roast? It is a solid piece of meat, a little on the leaner side. This is in the $4.99-$6.99/lb range at Price Chopper. It has a “fine sandpaper” texture, a delicate piece of meat.

The king of roasts is next: the rib roast. Price Chopper takes the rib roast off the bone for easier slicing.

The NY strip is the steakhouse quality piece of meat. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association teamed up with Certified Angus Beef to develop a way to create a roast out of the NY strip for the holidays. The strip has been split into two sides to resemble more of a tenderloin. You can get a 1-2 pound split strip roast at Price Chopper – perfect for smaller families like mine. Otherwise, roasts generally run 5 or 6 pounds.

Most tender cuts, in descending order: filet mignon, flat iron steak, rib roast.

The In-Store Bakery

Price Chopper wants to take great ideas and great feedback from everybody to make great decisions. Alyson is the Bakery Category Manager, and it was her dream that helped create the Decadent Desserts line. She enlisted the help of the stores to determine what flavors customers were looking for, and she got a team of cake decorators together to develop the drool-worthy Decadent Desserts. Price Choppers wants you to think of them as your local bakery. Their existing cake program was good, but it was no different from what was being offered by their competitors. They knew they could do better.

What other grocery store bakery offers a tres leches cake? A cannoli dream cake? Belgian white truffle cake? They offer both traditional 8-inch cakes and smaller 5-inch cakes. Their peanut butter pie is one of the most popular items they offer. (I need to grab a slice of that.) There are also individual sized desserts. The cupcakes are so big that they call them cake in a cup – bigger than what you can find at Cocca Dots or Bettie’s Cakes in the Albany area. Price Chopper fills cannolis to order to ensure a crisp shell, or you can buy the cannoli shells and cannoli creme separately so you can fill them yourself for an event.

They have a limited time 11-layer holiday cake for $20 – made with red velvet cake sandwiching cheesecake inside. The Be Mine Valentine’s Day cake also sounds amazing. She just described their St. Patrick’s Day Irish Creme cakes in a cup… YUM.

For Thanksgiving, Price Chopper offers a 9-inch natural juice pie. The Central Market Classics coffee cakes are amazing, too. They have cinnamon and chocolate chip coffee cakes year round, but they offer special flavors that change monthly, as well. I devoured a slice of chocolate chip coffee cake a little bit earlier.

Assorted Coffee Cake

Character breads are super cute. They make fish, turkey, and other character breads. If you want something you don’t see, you can ask for a different design. A customer asked for an animal bread for her Halloween party, and the bakery manager created a spider bread for her out of hearty rye.

Price Chopper makes character breads in a variety of shapes

60% of the products sold in Price Chopper bakeries are baked in store. Donuts are fried every morning at 2:00 am. They make their own fresh bagel dough. No other grocery stores make their own bagel dough anymore.

Holiday Entertaining Tips

Maureen from Consumer Insights is going to talk to use about holiday entertaining tips. She said we don’t have to worry about taking notes, because she has a packet for us to be able to take home. Keep your gatherings as casual or as formal as you’re comfortable with. Do you want a formal sit-down dinner, a buffet, a brunch, a dessert party? Plan your menu and your beverages first, no matter what type of event you’re having. Write out a master shopping list ahead of time so you have adequate time to prepare. (You can watch for sales that way, too. And freeze things you are able to prepare ahead of time.)

Order any prepared food and flowers at least 2-3 days before your event. Create a food preparation schedule so you don’t run out of time and space. Know what has to be baked in the oven for how long…You don’t want to freak out at the last minute because your side dish still hasn’t been cooked.

Make sure you have enough ice; ice goes quickly at parties. Use a permanent marker to write each guest’s name on their plastic cups to prevent the spread of germs.

On the day of your event, prepare and arrange your food. Add your finishing touches to any make-ahead recipes. Fresh cranberries can make a nice garnish. Have a food checklist so you don’t accidentally forget anything in the refrigerator.

Flavor your roasts and vegetables with fresh herbs instead of butter and salt. Use whole grains whenever possible. Use a roast rack in your roasting pan so the meat doesn’t sit in the fat while it’s cooking. Skim the fat off the top when making your gravy. Every tablespoon of fat you discard eliminates 130 calories. Use low-fat versions of the dairy products in your recipes. (I do this all the time. Reduced fat ricotta and 2% milk mozzarella is just as good as the full fat versions – but do NOT use the fat free ricotta or sour cream, because they do NOT taste the same.) Substitute graham cracker crust for traditional pie crust to save fat and calories, too. Have water and diet soda available for your guests.

You’ll need a pound of ice per person, three cocktail napkins per person, and two dinner napkins per person. You should have two or three disposable cups per person, and three or four wine glasses per person at a cocktail party – unless you have someone in the kitchen dedicated to washing out the wine glasses as they are used. Wine charms can help people distinguish their glass from others. Plan on 8-10 hors d’oeurves per person, as well.

Make sure you have enough garbage cans around the house, wherever guests will be gathered. It’s always awkward when someone has an empty plate or dirty napkin that they just don’t know what to do with.

If you are having a buffet, set up your plates, napkins, and silverware in a separate corner, away from the bustle of the food table. Use placecards to identify each dish in the buffet line, including a list of any ingredients that may be allergens.

(This is where I confess that I’m running out of steam with this liveblogging thing. I think I’m coming down from my sugar high, and I’ve already typed up nearly 2,000 words over the last 2.5 hours. Yikes!)

Teaching kids the proper order for setting the table? Utensils go in alphabetical order from left to right: Fork, Knife, Spoon.

Everyone at my table has won a raffle prize except for me. Are there going to be prizes for everyone, because I’m feeling really left out? 😉 Oh  look! I won a wreath! Yay! It’s beautiful, and the smell of the evergreen… I can’t wait to show you a picture of this!

Disclosure: Price Chopper invited me to to this event at no cost. I received a bag of groceries, a selection of cheeses, and a beautiful Christmas wreath to take home with me.

Christina Gleason (975 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.


Comments

  1. Great meeting you. It was a fantastic event!

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