In addition to creating all natural soups, one of our core values is to promote and support the well being of all of the great people on our team. We are committed to surrounding ourselves with highly dedicated, passionate individuals who value delivering outstanding customer service and consistently great products ahead of any personal accolades. We hope you enjoy reading about some of our team members.
Monthly Employee Profile:
How long have you worked at Kettle Cuisine?
What work do you do at Kettle Cuisine?
Retail Sales Support
Do you sip or slurp?
I'm a sipper!
What's your favorite ingredient?
All the spices that help make the soups taste so amazing.
What's your favorite soup?
It depends on the season. Tomato Garden in the summer, Lentil in the winter.
What was your first job at Kettle Cuisine?
Purchasing Assistant and Retail Sales Assistant.
Do you have a family? If so describe?
Aside from my immediate family, including a niece who's graduating from high school (where did the time go?!?), I have a fabulous group of friends…my chosen family.
Where are you from originally? If not from Chelsea, how long have you been here?
I was born and raised right here in the wonderful commonwealth of Massachusetts.
What are some of your interests outside of work?
Gardening, cooking and baking, and listening to live music especially if it's an outside venue!
Anything else you would like to share about yourself?
I gave up coffee for 3 weeks and didn't think that I would miss it as much as I did. The mornings just weren't the same without it. I'm glad to be having my cup o' joe again on the commute in to work!
Jerry Shafir, Founder & President
Jerry was born in Manhattan and grew up in New Jersey in an entrepreneurial family that owned a scissors and shears business. Jerry later attended Yale University as an undergraduate student majoring in English and a member of the varsity basketball team. While preparing for law school, Jerry waited tables and quickly developed a passion for the fast pace and continuous excitement of the foodservice industry.
After moving to Massachusetts to study law at Boston University and eventually practice as a bar certified attorney for a couple of years, Jerry realized that a career in law was not the right path for him. Looking to change directions Jerry decided to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School and upon graduation he returned to the industry that he had previously developed such a passion for but this time in a corporate role. Jerry spent two years working at a highly reputable restaurant chain as a strategic advisor to the founder.
It was during this experience in the foodservice industry that Jerry discovered a glaring void in the market. At that time, in the mid 1980's, restaurateurs serving soup had two options: make it themselves or buy poor quality canned or frozen premade soups. Jerry saw an opportunity to provide discerning Chefs a better option; high quality, fresh, refrigerated soup that they could be proud to serve. This opportunity was all that Jerry needed to finally feed his natural entrepreneurial spirit that had gone unnourished for so long - Kettle Cuisine was born.
Jerry endured some very lean and challenging years at the beginning but his commitment to filling this market void never ceased. In the early years, Jerry's day started by picking up fresh meats, seafood and produce from local markets, he would then help prepare ingredients and cook the soups, and end his day by going door to door trying to convince Chefs to give Kettle Cuisine a chance. While twenty three years later Jerry no longer wears these same hats, he is still very actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the company and still loves getting out to meet with existing and prospective customers.
Today, Jerry and Lorna, his wife of 28 years, are adjusting to life as empty nesters as their two daughters have recently moved on to complete their undergraduate degrees and begin pursuing their own professional careers. Jerry's hobbies include traveling, music and refereeing rugby.
Volker Frick, Emeritus Executive Chef
Volker was born and raised in Austria along the Danube River near the Hungarian border. He was first introduced to traditional cooking during childhood when he would often watch and help his mother prepare homemade meals for the family with ingredients raised and prepared at home.
At seventeen, Volker left home to begin his culinary career with a cooking apprenticeship in Germany. After working for many years in a number of European hotels and restaurants, as well as the Holland-America Cruise Line, Volker brought his culinary talents to New England. Many kitchens from Boston to Maine were privileged to serve Volker's creations prior to him settling in Newport, RI where he served as Executive Chef for two years at the Clark Cook House and the White Horse Tavern.
In 1978, Volker opened his own restaurant, "Frick's" in Newport and later a second "Frick's" in Jamestown. In parallel, Volker also served as a professor of International and Classical cooking at Johnson and Wales University's College of Culinary Arts.
Volker met Jerry Shafir while working at the New York Yacht Club in Newport and because the two had such similar philosophies about food, they immediately hit it off. In 1992 Volker accepted a position as a culinary consultant to Kettle Cuisine and in 1997 he joined full time as Executive Chef. Volker served as Executive Chef until his semi-retirement in the fall of 2011. Today, Volker is still actively involved in new product development in an advisory role.
Chef Volker's culinary skill and artistry was instrumental in helping Kettle Cuisine expand its portfolio of great tasting, innovative soups to over 50 varieties. To this day, Chef Volker is viewed as the chief architect of Kettle Cuisine's uncompromised culinary discipline and while he is no longer in the kitchen everyday his "real food" and "slow cooking" philosophy is the way in which Kettle Cuisine continues to operate, every step of the way.
Joseph Ascoli, Corporate Executive Chef
Joseph was engaged in cooking at an early age, via his half-Greek, half-Italian mother, who prepared daily meals for a family of eight! Those values of fresh, local, communal fare never left him as he ventured through all segments of the restaurant industry. From quick service to white tablecloth establishments, his passion and knowledge grew.
During the journey, Joseph received degrees in Zoology and Entomology, satisfying the research scientist in him…and then circled back with a culinary degree from the famed Johnson & Wales University…with honors. In 1995, he moved to Maine to become the Executive Chef of the Camden Harbour Inn. This fine dining restaurant specialized in regional cuisine with all locally grown ingredients and seasonal menus.
As he yearned to merge his culinary and science disciplines, Joseph joined the Research Chef Association and a foodservice consulting firm, after which his new product development skills have been honed at both top tier independent restaurants and national chains.
Joseph joined Kettle Cuisine in 2008 as Corporate Chef and was promoted to Corporate Executive Chef in 2011. His knowledge of manufacturing, experience in chain accounts, new product development cycles, culinary trends, and food science, make him an invaluable resource. His love of food, his drive and his positive outlook further exemplify Kettle Cuisine's "best in class" positioning.