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How Relish Works is Adding Zest to a 122-year-old Company

By Scott Kitun

If there’s one industry that’s both very old and highly innovative, it’s food. We’ve been eating since before we could talk in more than grunts — but what we want to eat, and how and where we acquire food, continues to change rapidly. One company trying to balance that long history with the need to innovate is wholesale food distributors Gordon Food Service. The company traces its roots back to 1897 when it delivered butter and eggs. Now it employs 19,000 people, and in 2018 Gordon Food Service was the 22nd largest privately held company in the US, according to Forbes. In 2017, Gordon Food Service officially launched a new and separate entity, delightfully named Relish Works. Their mission is to look for innovations that can help Gordon Food Service and the wholesale food distribution industry modernize and grow. One of the people leading the effort is Managing Director Mandy Tahvonen. As Mandy explains, Relish Works is currently working on multiple industry-improving projects; but one that she and Gordon Food Service are especially excited about is The Food Foundry, an accelerator program they’re running with Chicago-based digital startup incubator 1871.

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