“I’ve always wanted to come here!” “I thought this was a factory!” “My Dad used to work here!” These exclamations announced our afternoon arrival to Sid Wainer & Son’s Gourmet Outlet on Purchase Street. While humble and unpresumptuous from the outside, what lies beyond the brick facade is anything but ordinary. The outlet features exciting ingredients from around the world alongside foodie favorites from our very own South Coast, and is a food mecca for curious newbies and renowned chefs alike. Now, it holds a special place in the hearts of 12 lucky Gomes Elementary students as well.
Our culminating Food for Thought adventure on April 12th delighted our youth’s minds and senses. Bullseye painted radishes and bold blood oranges decorated the generous spread that Allie Wainer and her crew spread across the outlet’s marble countertop, beckoning the kids over to their “Private Tasting”. They were greeting with smiles and Sid Wainer caps, and got right to chowing down!
The culinary experience was a delight to the student’s senses and palates. Within minutes we had a brand new batch of foodies exclaiming their love for crystal cave-aged cheddar and lindon berry preserve. “What is Marion berry?” I questioned one student, who had proclaimed it to be his absolute favorite. “Well it tastes like a cross between a strawberry and a black berry.” What thinkers we have!
Faces smudged with pure raw honey (a far cry from the syrup filled teddy bear brand) and mouths full of salty prosciutto, the kids were raring to check out the rest of the outlet. With Vice President Allie Wainer as our cheerful guide, we were led through the front entrance and up a zigzag of stairs to a plateau marking the entrance to staff quarters. “Wooooow!” The kids “oooh”’-ed and shoved as they gazed down at the outlet’s brand new packing and shipping room, eye’s wide as gourmet cheese wheels. As far as we could see, shelves were stacked to the ceiling with boxes and crates. Weaving between the rows were proud Sid Wainer employees decked out in green, atop little machines used to raise and stack crates in preparation for shipment.
We concluded our tour with a quick stop at the automatic hand washers (quite a hit) and a walk around the rest of the floor, complete with a cozy staff lunch room. Chatter bounced off the walls throughout our walk. “Where does this food come from?!” “Do you get bananas from Guatemala?” “My cousin used to drive so far when he worked here!” It’s amazing the organic connections and questions that arise when students are truly engaged. That is a lesson we are reminded of each day here at Y.O.U.!
Our Gomes School students were gifted at their departure with seasonal food guides, fresh fruit and a chunky dark chocolate cookie (which was gone before the bus pulled out of the lot). Their eyes sparkled with joy as they proudly skipped to the bus with their Sid Wainer caps, bags and bellies! Gomes School students are a very special bunch, and we couldn’t be more grateful to Allie Wainer and the Sid Wainer staff for creating such a memorable experience for our youth. Broadening horizons is what we are all about at Y.O.U., and it is thanks to our many dedicated community partners that we can do this. It may have been a first trip to Sid Wainer for many, but it certainly won’t be the last!