It is an honor to introduce our new chairman of the board @Gaetano Auricchio! Gaetano is the Executive Vice President of BelGioioso Cheese, Inc. where cheese recipes have been passed down from generation to generation all the way from Italy to America. BelGioioso has been a member company of IDDBA for 36 years. They have been an active exhibitor throughout this time at our tradeshows and a sponsor to our What’s in Store Live program. We are thrilled to have Gaetano help lead our association during this upcoming year. Hearing his background and learning about his experiences has been a treat. Below Gaetano answered some questions to share his story that has led him to where he is today, and where he hopes to see IDDBA go in the future. Thank you Gaetano, we are all looking forward to working with you!
Your background in the cheese industry, what was your journey like?
I have been around cheese my whole life. My father and mother came from Italy with my sisters and I in tow in 1979. Flanked by his two master cheesemakers from Italy, Mauro and Gianni, my father began by producing provolone and over the years added a whole family of Italian style specialty cheeses.
Growing up, I worked various jobs in our cheese factories. I remember flipping cheese wheels and cleaning drying racks for our 18 month aged American Grana Parmesan. I helped pack fresh mozzarella balls in tubs of water. I also flipped provolone curd on our drain tables. Besides the physical work, I also learned the “art” of cheese making. I spent hours listening to our head cheesemakers speak on the virtues of making our own starter cultures and the need to respect traditions. They always said (and continue to say) that whatever we do, we have to do it for “il bene del formaggio” (for the good of the cheese).
I went to college at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. After graduating with a degree in Economics, I moved out to Washington, D.C. for a few years and worked at a specialty food distributor and a consulting firm. This outside experience was interesting and educational, but I always knew I would go back to Wisconsin to try my hand in the family business.I moved back to Green Bay in 2000 and have been working at BelGioioso ever since in different capacities within the business. I’m currently Executive Vice President and am blessed to have a very passionate group of individuals I work with to grow and strengthen our business.
Will you pass down the cheese traditions to your children?
Absolutely! My wife, Amanda, and I have three boys. Our oldest is 14 and our twins are 12 years old. Our first son has followed me around the office and the plants for the past two summers. It’s great to see him learn and understand the process and come home and ask questions about our cheeses. He also loves being an unofficial taste tester!
The twins have come out to the plants with me on some weekends and also enjoy seeing how fresh milk is transformed into cheese. They like going into the provolone ageing rooms and trying to guess how much the heaviest ones weigh. One of the twins made a suggestion to add a new cheese to our snack line. Recently, this new product was put into production as our American Grana Snack pack.
Hopefully, one day, all three will want to officially join me in the business!
What are some goals you have as Chairman of the Board?
We want to continue to make IDDBA the essential resource for professionals in the Dairy, Deli and Bakery industry. Our goal is to make IDDBA a go-to resource on education, employment opportunities, research and topics relevant to our industry. As Chairman I’m excited to be a part of the services and opportunities that IDDBA offers to members. We join IDDBA to expand our business, grow ourselves, and establish a community that in return benefits the industry that we are all in. It is my goal to lead alongside IDDBA for a strong and promising future for our industry.
What are you most excited about as our new Chairman?
I’m very excited about the IDDBA show in Indianapolis this year. We plan to have a top-notch line up of speakers and topics and a vibrant show floor. Our exhibit sign-ups for the show are already at very high numbers and we anticipate another banner year. I believe that the programs we are pursuing in this upcoming year will not only add to the services and opportunities that IDDBA offers, but it will also advance our industry. Looking ahead, we are working hard to roll out new programs in addition to our year-round member benefits such as:
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what IDDBA is pursuing for this year. I’m looking forward to watching how we contribute to the growth of our members and industry. We want to make sure we help our members stay ahead in this ever-changing, fast-paced business environment.
- The continuation of the Retail Management and Leadership Program that successfully launched earlier this year.
- Developing the charcuterie certification program.
- Hosting a live full-day summit revolving around the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
- Debuting in Indianapolis is The Visionary Pavilion.