Chef Luigino Tripodi knows meat better than most. Tripodi grew up in Long Island, New York. His parents were from southern Italy and ran an Italian salumeria, where young Tripodi would help make fresh mozzarella and ravioli and take care of the prosciutto and cold cuts. “Family meals every night, Sunday dinner with all the cousins—it was a typical Italian American upbringing,” says Tripodi.
We look at their menu, their pricing, the surrounding area, and do an analysis of the customer’s needs. Then we begin developing solutions.
A Driving Passion
After developing a true love of meat at the family’s salumeria, Tripodi worked his way up through the New York restaurant scene. He started as a dishwasher and bus boy, eventually attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he graduated in 1983. He then joined Sysco’s Metro New York Operation Company, where he became a Certified Angus Beef specialist and Master of Brand Advantages.
Tripodi now employs his meat expertise each day as a sales consultant and chef at Buckhead Meat Northeast, a Sysco specialty meat company. In this role, he develops relationships with operators, often making visits to restaurants to see firsthand how he can help with their meat programs. “We look at their menu, their pricing, the surrounding area, and do an analysis of the customer’s needs. Then we begin developing solutions.”
When Chef Tripodi and his colleagues at Buckhead Meat consult with customers, “We discuss what we can do to help them understand the beef process, perhaps steering them toward a better brand, different cuts, different grade qualities,” he says. They then explain the pros and cons of purchasing beef in master cases, for example, or on a precut basis. “We talk through everything as far as cut steaks, portion control, value-added products, and getting them the best price and quality possible.” Whats more, says Tripodi, Buckhead Meat is positioned to supply for customers specific needs. “They want a certain taste, weight, size, date, brand and grade. We can give that kind of customization.”
Quality Meat Within Reach
With 12 Buckhead Meat companies east of the Rockies (and Newport Beef, the sister company to Buckhead, operating several locations in the West), chefs like Tripodi are within reach and ready to demo products and recipes. “We invite customers back to Buckhead Meat in Edison, New Jersey, where we’ll take them for a tour of our facility—bring them through the cut shop and packing area, through the freezer and the refrigerators and even the warehouse.”
Tripodi and his team cook products they’ve prearranged with the customer, talking through the features and advantages, be it precut or a master case. “If they don’t get a precut product and need help learning how to cut the item, we will teach them that as well. We’ll get into the full fabrication of the product, and we build a relationship starting from there.”