PDA Q&A: Patrick Rugiero

The E-Interview, Executive Director, Roman Village Restaurant Group, Dearborn
Patrick Rugiero
Patrick Rugiero

DB: Where are you?
PR: I’m in Chicago, at Process Expo at McCormick Place. It’s a large global food equipment and technology show. There are thousands of restaurant owners, equipment suppliers, and purveyors of meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, cheeses, coffee, and prepared food … it goes on and on.

DB: What are your goals?
PR: I’m here doing research to get a better understanding of the capacity needed for mass-producing ready-made meals. We’ll announce the new name of our ready-made food company by the end of the year. It’s a nice complement to what our family does at Roman Village in Dearborn and our Antonio’s Cucina Italiana restaurants in Dearborn Heights, Canton Township, Livonia, and Farmington Hills. The good thing about this show is that you get to see how food is produced on a mass scale, (using) the latest technology.

DB: Do you attend other shows?
PR: Yes, I usually do four shows a year. Last year I was in Milan, Italy, which was one of the largest shows I’ve been to. To distribute ready-made meals, we do a lot of R&D, testing, preparation, and (then comes) the creation of the meals. Producing ready-made food to put on a shelf is very different than a meal you produce at a restaurant on a plate. The PH level must be correct, it has to be pressure-packed, and it has to be airtight. In other words, it has to be perfect.

DB: Any new trends?
PR: There are so many ways to mass-produce food. Right now, we’re doing a lot of it by hand, and we’re looking to speed things up. We’ll be offering a variety of food that’s Italian American, so dishes like spaghetti aioli with sun-dried tomatoes, Bolognese sauce with pasta, Alfredo sauce with pasta, a vodka sauce with pasta, calabrese arrabiata, and a puttanesca sauce with pasta. We’ll distribute our ready-made dishes all over the United States, and we’re researching Canada and Mexico, as well.