Consumers crowd the stalls, booths and storefronts of Detroit’s colorful and unique Eastern Market district every Saturday morning, but during the business week, Fairway Packing Co. also handles commercial packing house and produce business for restaurants in Michigan and nationwide. The company has been located in the Eastern Market since 1989, where it provides old-style packing house-quality meat products, poultry, seafood and produce with state-of-the-art equipment and the newest technology.
“We have a reputation as one of the cleanest and best facilities in the Midwest,” the company says. Fairway Packing Co. is inspected regularly by the USDA and is HACCP-compliant. “My family has been dedicated to providing the best meats, poultry and produce for 55 years,” President and CEO Gene Baratta says. “Our courteous and informed sales staff is available day or night to provide the best information and quickest service.”
Consumers can pick up all of Fairway Packing Co.’s restaurant-quality meats at wholesale prices. The company also works with award-winning chefs to innovate and develop new ideas for its products and supervises production of them from start to finish.
Baratta insists that each order receives special attention.
“I am personally involved at every level to ensure we always provide the best of ourselves to [customers],” Baratta maintains. Fairway Packing Co. is the only Michigan restaurant meat distributor to be voted into the National Top 200 Purveyors by Meat Processing magazine, he says, adding that his company is the only meat distributor to offer same-day service every day.
Meet the Meats
Fairway Packing Co. supplies a number of unique meat products to commercial businesses and consumers. Among them are Kobe beef, which used to be available only at very high prices or to those visiting Japan. But through
genetics, feeding and management spearheaded by the Animal Sciences Department at Washington State University and Kobe Beef America (KBA) Inc.– a fourth-generation beef producer in Bend, Ore. – the experience of Kobe beef can be enjoyed in the United States.
KBA combines the Japanese method of evaluating beef for color, fat color and marbling – which uses scoring from 1 to 12 – and the USDA method of three categories – select, choice and prime – to ensure consistency. “Super-Prime from KBA scores between a 5 and 8 on the Japanese scale, while normal USDA prime cuts will range from 3+ to 4,” Fairway Packing Co. says. “This is literally ‘melt-in-your-mouth tenderness’ with unmatched flavor that can only be described as ‘wonderful.’ The ambiance and mystique are nearly as important in the eating experience as the flavor, juiciness and tenderness.”
Quantifiable data back up the claims. Research at Washington State University indicates that on a comparable-grade basis – where overall palatability, flavor and tenderness were the main criteria – Kobe beef from the United States out-performed all other breeds on a consistent basis.
Fairway Packing Co. also supplies Berkshire pork, a breed that dates back 200 years to England and was introduced to the United States in 1823. The home of the American Berkshire Association now is in West Lafayette, Ind. The breed has been used extensively in the improvement of pork production.
The veal supplied by Fairway Packing Co. is Provimi Veal, which is said to be high in nutrients and low in fat and calories. Specialty products supplied by Fairway Packing Co. include bone-in filet mignon, Piedmontese tomahawk chop, bone-in Provimi veal chop and Frenched Karabuta Berkshire pork rack chop.
Family-owned and Managed
A personal guarantee of quality is backed up by all Baratta family members involved in the business. That includes Emmet Baratta, vice president of national sales and marketing; Gene Baratta Jr., sales; and Geraldine (Geri) Baratta Slusarick. President and CEO Gene Baratta worked in the business with his father, Emmett.
However, family membership is not the only measure of dedication. Director of Sales Marty Wilk has 30 years of experience in the restaurant business and was the former owner and executive chef of the Excalibur Restaurant in Southfield, Mich. He joined Fairway Packing Co. in 2003.
“In his 30 years in the business, Marty has met and worked with many vendors and always demanded the highest quality in product and service,” the company says. “Fairway Packing Co. always exceeded his expectations, and when the opportunity arose to join the Fairway team, he did.”
Gene Baratta encourages consumers to support local restaurants. “It is the independent restaurant that keeps your dollar in our local economy,” he points out.