Hello La Natura Fine Food Foodies!
Where do I start?
La Natura celebrated its 10th Anniversary last autumn.
It’s definitely been a heck of a ride. Starting with our first customer, Marcket Fine Foods at Christie and St. Claire Avenue – Marc Javet and Mark Wilson were the first to consign our product and rent us quality kitchen space to create our brand.
Taking part in the Great Canadian Cheese Festival for six years was definitely the most fun part of all of this.
When I decided to slow down in 2014, it was tough. I had the absolute best customers in the folks that ran Pusateri Fruit Market, Mabel’s Bakery & Speciality Foods, and Nancy’s Cheese, to name a few. At one point, we serviced about 14 or 15 fine and gourmet food establishments in Toronto.
Soon after I decided to slow down, an old friend from my Starbucks days, Sharon Smyl, reached out. She was opening the most amazing little gift shop in the Upper Beaches called Collected Joy. She asked if I would provide La Natura Fine Food goodness to her shop. And for any of you who know me, I have difficulty saying no.
And thus, we shared a few years of a great relationship. She championed our brand; she and her shop couldn’t have been a better ambassador.
However, today, I am making the decision to cease La Natura’s operation.
There is no reason other than “it’s just too much work to keep it going.” My day job is busy. My life is busy. I don’t really want another job. And as much as I love La Natura, it’s another job.
I can’t thank enough the folks who believed in what we were doing and helped me get there. Jennifer Hills, our first Sales Manager. Abby Sawh, who took over for Jennifer when she moved from Toronto. All of the folks who helped us in and out of the kitchen … Carol Papa, Enzo Licata, Michael Correia, Anne Choy, John and Nhu Yorke, Natalie Karchmarsky, Natalie Kulesza, Diana and Amanda Lombardi, Vicky Laszlo, Anjuli Arora, and the countless others who really helped move us forward.
And of course, none of this would have happened without the man who helped me get this started, Giuseppe (Papa Joe) Lombardi. He’s been a life-long friend and mentor (I’ve known Joe almost half my life) and will continue to be exactly that until one of us leaves this earth.
I chose an image to commemorate La Natura.
It’s a photo at the tasting party for Jen’s Pesto – a product that Jen and I put together in 2008, and which sold amazingly. In the foreground of the photo is a very happy Enzo Licata, who started Nossa Cucina with our good friend Michael Correia … and in the background is Jen Hills, herself. The shot was taken in the loft that brought together and forged life-long friendships with many people.
There are a couple of other photos from the event … and a couple of great product shots that I did with my good friends Michael Correia and Carol Papa, who have been big supporters for mine over the years.
So. I’ll leave you with a few words.
Eat well. Spend your money on good food, not cars or other fancy stuff that takes away from buying good food.
Exercise. Doctors who deal with dementia state that 30 minutes of walking a day is more important than doing brain exercises to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Be nice to others. I know it sounds simple, but the health of the relations that you have will depend on whether you treat people the way you want to me treated. It’s a fact.
Love with all of your heart. I’ve been witness, too many times, to situations in which people love out of convenience or because they think it’s a good idea; they’re “sprung.” But your heart knows. Too well. Follow your heart. Trust your gut.
Don’t stop learning. You’re never too old to learn. Read. Think. Imagine. Take a course. Learn how to build something. You’ll never want to die if you want to learn.
Enjoy the arts. Music. Painting. Photography. Moving Pictures. Take part as often as possible; either as an active participant/creator or an observer.
Travel. See the world. We’re the first generation to have as much access to the rest of the world as any generation before us. And it’s only going to get better.
Don’t be afraid of discourse. The people around you who engage in fruitful discourse will help you, and themselves, grow. Surround yourself with these people. Stay away from those who can’t handle this type of growth because it will hinder yours. Remember, you don’t have to like what people say … but engage them and find out more. It’s worth it.
So, I left you with the words and ideas that mean so much to me.
I’m still around – and I’d love to talk, in person, on the phone, or through an email.
With all of my heart and my love,