May 28 2024  |  Catering

WTCE issue: Calvetti Meats' big 50th

By Jane Hobson

This is a special feature from PAX International's May 2024 WTCE issue, on page 72.

Jamie Calvetti, President of James Calvetti Meats Inc. and Calvetti Culinary Creations

In a milestone celebration of culinary excellence and innovation, James Calvetti Meats Inc., a leading purveyor of premium meats and sous vide products for the airline industry, marks its 50th anniversary this year. Founded in Chicago’s Union Stock Yards in the U.S. in 1974 by the late meat purveyor James Calvetti, the company has evolved
into a cornerstone of the airline catering sector, providing customers with exclusive, restaurant-quality meats and sous vide creations for an extraordinary dining experience.

PAX International spoke with Jamie Calvetti, son of James and President of James Calvetti Meats Inc. and Calvetti Culinary Creations, about the iconic brand’s impressive history.

Calvetti family history
Calvetti says his father had just one request five decades ago when he built his office in the heart of the Union Stock Yards. A large window on the north side of the building to frame the Chicago skyline.

Airlines have long been Calvetti’s main customer base. The Calvetti family has a long history in the airline food service business, starting at Midway Airport Chicago in 1949, which Calvetti reminds PAX International, was once known as the busiest airport in the United States, especially in the period between 1948 to 1960.

The Calvetti family has a long history in the airline food service business, starting at Midway Airport Chicago in 1949. Pictured here is Calvetti’s shipping and receiving circa 1954

James Calvetti Meats Inc. has since built its reputation on a commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. From its processing facility in Chicago, the company serves both domestic and international markets, offering a diverse range of prime quality, portion-cut meats, seafood and poultry. Notably, Calvetti is renowned for its halal products, catering to a global clientele with diverse culinary requirements.

“Perfection may be an elevated goal, but when the meal starts with 50 years of family values, the passion of a father and son, and the expertise of only the most talented butchers, those with even the most discerning tastes need look no further than Calvetti Meats,” Calvetti tells PAX International.

Reflecting on the company’s journey, Calvetti emphasizes the core values that have driven its accomplishments.

“Our success over five decades stems from a culture of determination, exceptional employees and a commitment to innovation,” explains Calvetti. “We embrace change and continually raise the bar in quality and customer collaboration.”

Pivotal introduction of sous vide
The upward trajectory of James Calvetti Meats Inc. is intertwined with the inception of Calvetti Culinary Creations (CCC) in 2013. This brand operates as a DBA, doing business as Calvetti Culinary Creations as part of James Calvetti Meats Inc. This strategic move aimed to revolutionize traditional portion-cut products with French-style sous vide innovations, offering fully cooked, ready-to-heat and-eat solutions. 

Through CCC, the company leveraged 40 years of culinary expertise, food science and innovative research and development to create wholesome, nutritious and convenient sous vide meal options. This innovation expanded its capabilities from portion-cutting to marinating, searing and vacuum packing proteins, revolutionizing how proteins are prepared for the cabin and enhancing flavour consistency to enhance the passenger experience.

“Our sous vide approach is not just about culinary excellence; it’s about efficiency and sustainability,” explains Calvetti. “By portioning proteins before vacuum sealing, we minimize waste and maximize cost management while delivering unparalleled flavour.”

As the airline industry rebounds post-pandemic, the Calvetti companies remain at the forefront of providing creative solutions to meet evolving customer demands. With
a customer-centric approach and passion for continuous development, CCC continues to set new standards in the airline catering sector.

“We’ve created and employed a staff of chefs, technicians and food scientists. This group drives our quest for innovation and customer collaboration,” Calvetti says, adding that clients can expect continued product innovation and customer collaboration from its sous vide capabilities in the future.

“We live and work in a niche market. Reputation is everything. Word gets out—around the world. Companies often come to us seeking new sous vide products and ideas,” he explains.

Calvetti highlights a product that he is particularly proud of. The sous vide peeled and cored Sweet Red Pear. Sourced from the U.S. state of Michigan, chefs insert a pipe to stuff the fruit with fresh whipped cream and whipped mascarpone cheese.

“We serve them at the end of every airline meal presentation They knock everyone’s socks right off! Who would think a 50-year-old company, founded in the Union Stock Yards of Chicago would be doing that?” Calvetti tells PAX proudly.

What’s cookin’?
Despite facing challenges through the pandemic, James Calvetti Meats Inc. has remained resilient. By remaining focused on customer demand and staying ahead of the curve, the company has adapted to the changing needs of the market and emerged stronger than ever.

“We’re proud of our 50-year legacy,” says Calvetti. “But we’re always looking ahead, exploring new opportunities to delight our customers and elevate the culinary experience.”

With a rich heritage rooted in family values and a relentless pursuit of excellence, James Calvetti Meats Inc. and CCC are poised for continued success, shaping the future of airline catering with ingenuity and passion.

“Whatever your dream products are, Calvetti Culinary Creations will partner with you every step of the way to design, create, produce and execute those ideas to the delight of your customers,” Calvetti says

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