We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton Writer
Updated on Apr 29th, 2024
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

Zina’s Fine Food 2024: Manufacturers of Gourmet Salads 

DeliveryRank has the opportunity to chat with Valentin Chelnokov, President and CEO of Zina’s Salads, who brings a wealth of experience from diverse industries, including legal, technology, and art. His creativity, unwavering dedication, and natural leadership make him a driving force behind the company's success. Zina's Fine Foods is dedicated to providing healthy, delicious food options while giving back to the community through charitable donations. They prioritize sustainability, actively working to reduce waste and lessen their environmental impact. Their commitment to creating a sustainable future extends to innovative packaging solutions and partnerships with local charities, setting an example for the food industry as a whole. 

Valentin, can you elaborate on how Zina's Salads combines traditional recipes with innovative techniques to create unique and delicious salads?

Our approach differs from many companies in the food industry. While others create massive facilities with a focus on minimizing labor and maximizing machinery to meet shareholder expectations, we remain a family-run business. For us, flavor always takes precedence over everything else. When we develop our products, we strive to use machinery similar to what you might have in your own kitchen, albeit on a slightly larger scale. 

For example, if you have a standard KitchenAid food processor, ours would be five times larger, but the concept remains the same. This approach is crucial for us to deliver restaurant-quality food to our clients. We believe that quality ingredients are paramount, so we meticulously source each one from around the world. Our philosophy blends innovation with tradition, ensuring that we don't blindly follow trends or cut corners to save costs. Instead, we prioritize the end result—ensuring that our products look as appetizing as they taste.

How does Zina's Fine Foods ensure that only the finest ingredients are used in its salads, and how does this commitment to quality contribute to the overall taste and appeal of the products?

Here's a more detailed and engaging version of the given text that adds sincerity and paints a vivid picture:

Many factors contribute to creating delicious food, but what truly drives me is passion. I love to travel, and I'm fortunate that my wife works in the luxury travel industry, allowing us to explore the world together. Every trip is an adventure, not just because of the places we visit but also because of the culinary experiences we encounter along the way.

When I'm in Italy, it's not just about seeing the sights—it's about meeting local food artisans, exploring their markets, and learning from their traditions. I make it a point to connect with people who share the same commitment to quality ingredients. It's like being on a quest for the best flavors; each new country, city, or village offers something unique.

Our ingredient selection process is as meticulous as shopping for something you cherish. I inspect everything, from the color and texture to the aroma and origin, ensuring we choose only the best. This dedication to sourcing high-quality ingredients is at the heart of our business, and it's what makes our products stand out. It's more than a job—it's a journey fueled by a genuine love for food and the connections we make along the way.

For instance, our pasta is sourced from a family-owned business in Puglia. Their pasta is bronze die-cut and has a 14% protein content, which is among the highest in the market. This meticulous approach extends to all our ingredients, whether it's sunflower oil from Italy, chickpeas from Spain, or shrimp from Ecuador. 

Each product is hand-selected by either myself or my vice president, Alex, who is also my childhood friend and business partner. Our philosophy is simple: we only offer products that we would be proud to serve to our own families.

Can you share some insights into the history and evolution of Zina's Fine Foods, highlighting key milestones and moments that have shaped the company into what it is today?

Zina's Fine Foods, formerly known as Zina's Crepes, Soups and Desserts, has a rich history that dates back to Zina and Igor, a couple of political immigrants from Soviet Russia in the 1970s. Fleeing persecution in the Soviet Union, they found refuge in the United States after spending significant time in Europe, particularly Italy. 

Their experience in Italy, especially after the scarcity of quality food in the Soviet Union, deeply impressed them with the abundance of cheese, meats, salads, and other delicacies. Zina, a food scientist by trade, was determined to live the American dream and start a business based on her expertise and experiences in Italy. Thus, Zina's Crepes, Soups and Desserts was born in the early 1980s. 

Starting with just 12 stores, they focused on delivering high-quality, flavorful food, which remains a core value of the company today. Despite facing challenges such as limited connections and language barriers, the business grew organically, expanding to serve over a thousand stores. In the early 2010s, Alex and I joined the company when Igor was ready to retire. 

We embraced a startup mentality, building relationships from the ground up and learning every aspect of the business, from marketing to cooking. In 2021, we reached a significant milestone by moving to a larger facility in South Plainfield, NJ, with 30,000 square feet, serving over 6000 stores across the United States, primarily on the East Coast, from Indiana to Florida.

Zina's Fine Foods is involved with several charitable organizations. How do these partnerships align with the company's values and mission, and how do they impact the communities you serve?

At Zina's Fine Foods, our commitment to giving back extends beyond serving many states; we prioritize partnering with local charities to ensure our efforts have a direct, immediate impact. By working with organizations that have minimal administrative overheads, we ensure that our food donations reach those in need efficiently. Last year alone, we donated over 8 000 pounds of food and provided support to local food pantries, aiming to reduce food insecurity across the United States. 

Additionally, we engage in global initiatives, such as my upcoming charitable half marathon in October, where I will be supporting the Felix Project in the UK. The Felix Project rescues surplus food from suppliers and manufacturers, including ourselves, and redistributes it to those in need. This not only addresses food insecurity but also helps reduce environmental impact, as food waste is a significant contributor to pollution. 

We believe in taking proactive steps to address these challenges, including minimizing plastic packaging, as food waste has a substantial impact on our environment.

You have a wide range of salad offerings. How does the company approach menu development and product expansion to meet the diverse preferences of your customers while maintaining the authenticity of your recipes?

My absolute favorite part of the job, by far, is the creative process. While we often draw inspiration from our on-site chefs who hail from diverse backgrounds—Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, Ukraine—Alex and I also embark on travels that fuel our culinary innovations. Exploring new destinations is where the magic truly happens. Instead of seeking out the typical tourist fare, we immerse ourselves in local cuisine, savoring dishes that resonate with authenticity and home-cooked charm. For instance, in Italy, we're not craving pizza; we're yearning for a hearty chickpea salad from Puglia. Similarly, a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, isn't complete without sampling Kisir salad, a regional variation of tabbouleh. 

Our approach is rooted in the belief that food should be approachable and welcoming, evoking a sense of home, even if it's a new experience for our customers. This philosophy underpins all our products—we aim to deliver restaurant-quality taste in a homely setting, ensuring that each bite is a nostalgic journey.

Valentin, you mentioned your passion for travel and how it influences your ingredient selection. Can you share a specific experience or story from your travels that profoundly impacted your approach to food and business?

Absolutely. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a small village in southern Italy with my wife. We were exploring the local market, which was bustling with life and color. What struck me was how everyone knew each other, and the vendors had deep knowledge of their produce. They could tell you exactly which farm their tomatoes came from, how they were grown, and even share family recipes. It was more than just a market—it was a community gathering.

One stall in particular caught my attention. It was run by a family that had been in the cheese-making business for generations. They invited us to their home, where we watched them make cheese the traditional way, with care and precision. The experience was humbling, and it reminded me that behind every great product is a story, a legacy, and a lot of hard work.

This visit reinforced the importance of respecting tradition while also embracing innovation. At Zina's Salads, we strive to maintain that balance by sourcing ingredients from people who are as passionate about quality as we are. It's these experiences that inspire me to keep exploring, learning, and connecting with others who share our commitment to excellent food.

If you would like to find out more about Zina’s Salads, please visit https://www.zsalads.com/

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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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