Meet Kenny, our produce buyer
Kenny started in 1989 as the Pete’s truck driver, making rounds from the Chicago Produce Market to our little store on North Avenue and Central. A few years later, he moved into a manager’s role on the weekends to earn a little extra money when he had downtime from his truck route. From there, the owner saw something special in him and took him under his wing. Kenny says that with produce you have to have a passion for it, and the owner’s passion soon rubbed off on him. Shortly, Kenny moved into the produce buyer role and is still hand selecting Pete’s famous fruits and vegetables.
Kenny explains that down in the market, it’s a fight every day to find the best for our customers – both in quality and in price. He takes pride in bringing home the best. You can find him and the produce team down at the Chicago market at 5AM, tasting, smelling, and selecting products, negotiating prices, and then distributing them to our stores daily.
Knowing the seasons, origins, and weather conditions is very important for Kenny and his team. Although growing areas, water shortages, and heat waves can affect the product, Kenny makes it his mission to find the best available quality and price for our customers. We do source a lot of our products from the Midwest (Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan) and try to buy local whenever possible, but Kenny also works hard to find exotic fruits like dragonfruit, starfruit, and hornmelons. We pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop for our international customers hoping to create traditional dishes.
Produce has been the heart and soul of the Pete’s Fresh Market business since the beginning. We hope that our passion for fruits and vegetables makes an impression on our customers.
A few tips from Kenny:
To refrigerate or not?
- Peaches: buy them firm and then leave them at room temperature (preferably in a brown paper bag) to allow the peach to ripen properly
- Bananas: do not keep bananas in cold conditions; they need to be at room temperature to ripen properly
- Plums: keep plums in the refrigerator; they have the tendency to break down quickly and can draw fruit flies if left out
- Grapes: refrigerate grapes, but take them out an hour before you want to eat them because they are sweetest when they’re a little warm
Is it ready yet?
- Watermelon: to pick the best one, find a brown stem and a yellow belly with curly and broken lines
- Cantaloupe: a cantaloupe is ready when it has a strong fragrant smell and complicated webbing in the rind
- Apples: these are an autumnal fruit; harvest time is from late August to late November
- Mangoes, Cherries, Melons, and Soft Fruits: these are summertime fruits
- Guavas: this wintertime fruit is best when yellow (not green); don’t be afraid to eat the seeds
- Papayas: known to be good for your digestive system, these yearlong fruits are meant to be eaten when they are a nice orange color with a little softness to the touch
Our produce tastes even better than it looks. Since we got our start as a small produce stand in the early 1970s, produce continues to be the heart and soul of our business. Our produce buyers wake up before the sun rises every morning to hand-select the freshest and healthiest options for our customers. Daily deliveries ensure fruits and vegetables are at the peak of perfection.
Pete’s Fresh Market features one of the largest and most expansive produce departments in the Chicagoland area. We proudly offer many of the hard to find international items like nopales, bok choy, daikon, methi leaf, dragonfruit, quenepas, and cactus pear to name just a few. It’s also important to note our ever-growing organic and locally sourced selection.
Last but not least, our stores provide daily fresh-cut fruit for when you are on the go and need to make life a bit easier. Whether you are looking for something traditional or more exotic, we’re sure you’ll find it at Pete’s Fresh Market.