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Food Gifts from Employees, Clients, and Others


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#1 David Ross

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 06:51 PM

I supervise 530 employees. A work group that large can be challenging, but it also has its rewards--in food. I'm fortunate because most of my employees live in the Pacific Northwest where there is a bounty of game, fruits, nuts, and seafood, all of which have landed under my Christmas tree. I also have employees who live throughout the country, (and many who travel around the world). As a result, I've been the lucky recipient of elk loin, canned dill
pickles, squash blossoms, tomatoes, halibut cheeks and smoked salmon, crispy peanut brittle, and all manner of Holiday sweets, (some good, some tragically bad), and even a bag of cinnamon sticks from Southeast Asia.

Fall usually brings me wonderful seasonal goods. I recently got a few quarts of wild, fresh Huckleberries picked off the high mountain ridges bordering an employees cattle ranch outside of Missoula, Montana. This morning, an employee who lives in Illinois brought me ground venison off a white tail harvested by her husband. I'm looking forward to the annual elk tenderloin an employee brings me after his family hunt in the Blue Mountains of Eastern, Oregon.

Are you the lucky one who receives wonderful foods from fellow employees?

#2 Darienne

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 05:52 AM

I don't have employees, but could I stretch this one to include well-meaning friends?

Because I work with chocolate, friends invariably will give me gifts of chocolate. Very generous and thoughtful, but DON'T DO IT. I could go on about why, but it would feel rather mean-spirited.

Not all chocolate is created equal. There, that should do it. :blink:

Edited by Darienne, 20 September 2011 - 05:53 AM.

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#3 JAZ

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:51 AM

I remember one year when I worked for a real estate company, the admin manager gave all the employees dried fruit and nut arrangements. He was always trying to eat "healthy" so I'm sure he thought it was a great idea. I don't like dried fruit at all, so essentially what I ended up with (after giving away the fruit) was a handful of raw almonds and a few pecans. The next year he gave us very good chocolate.

Usually, though, I was the one taking baked goods to the office.

#4 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 07:37 AM

The funniest one I've ever had wasn't employees (I have none) but a friend who ordered a gift basket from me through another friend, then turned around and gave it back to me at Christmas. I was pretty touched, actually.
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#5 Genkinaonna

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 08:01 AM

I stay home with the kids now so I can homeschool my oldest, so no employees anymore. When I was gainfully employed (as opposed to working 24 hrs a day without pay :rolleyes: ) I generally was the one who gave the foodie gifts, seldom received any. I do have one friend who owns an olive oil import company, though, so at least I'm all set in that respect. :laugh:
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#6 Country

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 08:48 AM

Most of mine has come from friends and customers. Clams and lobster. Deer and moose meat. :smile:

Oh. And fresh caught bluefin tuna. Napes are really good.

Edited by Country, 20 September 2011 - 08:50 AM.


#7 Norm Matthews

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 09:27 AM

My son worked at a restaurant when he was in high school. The owner was rather tight. His Christmas party for the employees was required and they had to bring pot luck. His Christmas bonus to the employes was that each one got a lottery ticket and he said if anyone won anything they had to split it with him.

#8 Kouign Aman

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 09:31 AM

We have a "policy" in our department that you have to bring food back from vacation to share with the entire dept. We were in Oregon during cherry season, so made cherry cobbler this year. We get turkish delight, huckleberry scones, all kinds of sweets. Its rare to get savories.
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#9 David Ross

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:15 PM

Yes, I've had that experience with my employees giving me chocolates. Bless their hearts, but a Whitman sampler or the box of Walmart procured chocolates doesn't cut it for me. I've been spoiled over the years by having had chocolates from Master French Pastry Chefs.

I don't let on, just say thank you so much and offer the chocolates to everyone in the office. One piece of a Whitman caramel won't kill me.

On the other hand, I had an employee who used to bring us boxes of very expensive Belgian chocolates. It was almost embarassing getting a gift that we knew cost a lot of money.

I do still love the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts that employees bring back after a visit to Hawaii.

#10 annabelle

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 07:00 PM

Are these corporate gifts, Dave? I had upwards of 50 employees my former life in finance and received gifts from banks and vendors who wanted our business, but none from employees that I recall. The other bosses and I bought food gifts for our employees at the holidays, turkeys and hams, and gave them a nice party with an open bar, food and live music.

#11 David Ross

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 07:11 PM

Are these corporate gifts, Dave? I had upwards of 50 employees my former life in finance and received gifts from banks and vendors who wanted our business, but none from employees that I recall. The other bosses and I bought food gifts for our employees at the holidays, turkeys and hams, and gave them a nice party with an open bar, food and live music.

I'm mainly talking about gifts from fellow employees, but all of these stories are fun--sort of a gifts in the workplace if you will. In a former career many years ago I was a Production Manager at an Advertising Agency. That was in the days of bourbon lunches. Our Agency got all sorts of food gifts from our vendors-printers, shippers, television and radio production companies, etal. I remember lots of Omaha Steak packs.

#12 annabelle

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 07:42 AM

I, too, received Omaha Steaks and booze. Lots and lots of booze at Christmas, actually starting at Thanksgiving. Don Draper of Mad Men would have been proud of the bar in the Big Boss's office. I has so gifted top-shelf booze at home, I don't think I had to buy any for 10 years.

#13 kayb

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 04:05 PM

I usually get a half-dozen or so food gifts at Christmas from vendors with whom I do business. Got a "tower" of different goodies from Harry & David, a ham or two, a bottle or two of wine or whiskey, a box of candy from some famous St. Louis confectioner whose name I disremember, but the candy was excellent. But my favorite, year-in, year-out, is my two-pound box of shelled pecan halves. I plan for them, know about when they're coming, and my holiday baking and candymaking happens shortly thereafter!

I always do sweets for my co-workers at Christmas. I make a mean praline, and decent fudge, so I always do those; some years I supplement with candied nuts, or some sort of flavored chocolate bark, and last year, to throw everyone off, I did tiny terrines of bourbon-chicken liver pate. I'm thinking this year may be homemade bread and fig jam, since I canned a boatload of that this summer.
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#14 janeer

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 06:36 PM



I'm mainly talking about gifts from fellow employees, but all of these stories are fun--sort of a gifts in the workplace if you will. In a former career many years ago I was a Production Manager at an Advertising Agency. That was in the days of bourbon lunches. Our Agency got all sorts of food gifts from our vendors-printers, shippers, television and radio production companies, etal. I remember lots of Omaha Steak packs.

When I owned my business and had clients around the country and the world, I would get gifts ranging from Omaha Steaks, booze (later wine), and all kinds of regional food items to World Series tickets. One client hired an entire restaurant on its closing day to open for me to serve me a special meal. That was something.

One of my sisters is a senior vp in a major corporation. She has "trained" her employees and clients what to get her: champagne. At Christmas at her house, there is more Veuve Cliquot (and many rarer bottles) than you can shake a stick out.

#15 threestars

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:08 PM

Never had an employee but I'm lucky to have good friends and relatives who gives different kinds of foods, specially the one in the province where agriculture is very important.

#16 Carlovski

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 02:45 AM

Strange, is this an American thing? I've never really heard of giving 'upwards', i.e employees getting gifts for their boss - OK, if you were friends, or happened to come across something unusual you know they would really like on holiday, but to receive gifts en-masse at christmas? Sounds a little bit feudal....
Maybe it will spread - like the one-upmanship arms race of buying gifts for teachers.
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#17 sparrowgrass

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 07:30 AM

Long ago, when I was a youngun, my dad used to get holiday gifts from suppliers. I didn't care much for the Crown Royal, though I am sure he enjoyed it, but I have very fond memories of the tin of pistachio nuts that came every year. It was the only time we ever had them, except for maybe a packet of those red ones from the gas station.
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#18 David Ross

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 06:01 AM

The holiday gift-giving season is underway and while it is no longer chi-chi or politically correct to do so, in my workplace we still exchange food gifts between employees. Last week, one of my employees brought me some delicious goose jerky that he and his hunting partner cured. It had a sweet flavor which was surprising. I think the flavor came partly from the brine and the smoke, but also from the meat of the Canadian goose breast. It was actually not what I was expecting since wild goose is so lean.

This morning I'm taking him a hindquarter of my duck confit. It's from a domestic duck so it will probably not be a taste or texture he's experienced before. I'm not sure wild ducks like Mallards or Teals have enough fat on them to make a decent confit, but I'm sure the French found a way to do it hundreds of years ago.

Next week we're having a cookie exchange during a local company meeting. I'm thinking I'll take some almond-maraschino-oatmeal cookies that I tried last week.

Anybody else in the spirit of giving or receiving food gifts from employees, clients or vendors this year?

#19 Creola

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 06:34 PM

We are in the bakery business so we don't want to give our customers the stuff we sell so they don't feel like they are taking from our business if that makes sense.We make a big pan of hog head cheese for New Years, hubby makes homemade persimmon wine he hands out and boxes of satsumas and grapefruit off our trees.Sometimes we do homemade crackings. They appreciate our efforts and bring us stuff during the year and during the year he will smoke meat and give out also. I gave an Egyptian customer some limes received some back pickled limes and a lamb dish with bread on the bottom and rice ,I forgot the name of the dish.

#20 David Ross

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 05:50 PM

My employee who is the avid goose hunter brough me some Canadian Goose thighs and legs. I'm going to make some confit for him. he had a taste of my duck confit in December, and I think I've got him hooked. Hopefully wild goose will make a decent confit.

#21 CeeCee

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 01:51 AM

Back in the day, my mom was a teacher at an international school where students from really poor to quite rich backgrounds attended. Not only did she collect quite a recipe collection, she also invited students over she clicked with over to her house so they could cook their favourites from back home they missed so much. They had to stay in a sort of hostel, where Dutchies tried to cook an international fare suitable for everybody's tastebuds. The students didn't get access to the kitchen, so my mom offered hers. The neighbours were shocked by the smells and the exotic stuff like cracking open coconuts (a novelty in those days, although it's not very common now either) in the back yard. For my 8th birthday we had a buffet containing Asian, African and Latino dishes. Although it was nothing like I imagined chocolate soup to be, what kid wouldn't be excited to sample a dish with a name like that!
I cherish the one official recipe book that school made, even when some of the recipes are not very clear nor detailed. One really starts from scratch: Grab a chicken, wring it's neck and pluck it.
The legacy goes on, as I'm collecting recipes and an eclectic mix of people in my kitchen too.

It's a tradition to bring food celebrating a birthday and such. This generally means mediocre pie or cake. In The Netherlands they really like their slagroomtaart, a whipped cream pie. I can't stand most of those heavy and gelatin laced cream concoctions. Luckily these treats could also mean stroopwafels (thin wafel cookie with syrop), boterkoek (rich buttery goodness, Chufi posted a recipe in the Dutch food thread), apple pie and such. Working in a multicultural environment means we also get not so common fare like semolina cookies from someone's Moroccan mom, Indonesian spiced meat balls and Surinamese cake at times. When clients sent stuff over, it's generally the common Dutch creamy stuff.
Expats come to share their joy when a package from home comes in. We have jumped up and down over a pepper collection sent in from the States among many other things. I guess my love of food in general and spicy, chocolaty stuff in particular don't go unnoticed.

Another tradition, may it be a dying one, is a kerstpakket (Christmas package) from an employer or client. Nowadays I get one, with a very mediocre content, but it is the thought that counts. This year it included canned tomato soup, brie, savoury crackers, beschuit (rusk or zwieback), popcorn, liquorice, winegums, mini pate cups, an energy drink (is that a hint dear boss?) and Italian style cookies. A new trend is to give this package to the voedselbank, which hands out food packages to people who are living a financially very tight life.
Also popular: Wine and/or gift vouchers. The latter are getting more culinary each year.

The weirdest situation I had, was when I was working in a deli in Amsterdam. One of our regulars presented me with a really delicious looking piece of chocolate pie, he described it as the very best he ever ate and had told me about it often. Normally that's my cue, but this retired business man spent his days in a coffeeshop (yes, you know which kind I mean). So it was a bit of a sticky situation as he was waiting for me to take a sample. I was halfway through my shift and on camera (hi boss!), but luckily lunch rush saved me as I didn't want to be rude to him being kind. I checked the origins of the pie with the producer at the end of the day (the guy was a regular there as well) and tried it for dessert. It was nice and the only time I accepted food from a stoner.

Edited by CeeCee, 23 February 2013 - 02:15 AM.