You better believe I was excited when I got the email from my pals at Albertsons (SuperValu) inviting me to attend a VIP blogger event in the Big Apple to learn more about their new private label brand, Essential Everyday!
If you’re not familiar, Essential Everyday is the new private label brand for ALL SuperValu stores (which includes Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Cub, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Lucky, Save-a-Lot, Shaw’s, Shop ‘n Save, and Shoppers.)
I arrived last week, which was an experience as I’ve never traveled by myself before. It was eerily…peaceful (read: no kids). One might have supposed it would’ve been sunny – after all, it’s June, in New York. I think I must have brought the rain with me. Whoopsies.
The other bloggers that were in attendance included: Laura from A Frugal Chick, Dana from The Coupon Challenge, Allie from Couponing For 4, Cathy and Monica from Fabulessly Frugal, Rachel from Mashup Mom, Lynn from Maven of Savin’, Mindi from Moms Need to Know, Carrie from Pocket Your Dollars, Josie from Southern Cali Saver and Kim from STL Mommy. Let me tell you, when bloggers get together, there is never a shortage of conversation. Doesn’t matter if you’ve ever met before, there’s just instant lively conversation. I love it!
I bet you’re wondering what happens when Supervalu gets all these bloggers out to NYC. As in, what do they DO with us all? Well, they send us to the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, for starters.
I honestly didn’t even know this place existed, but exist, it does. It’s on the 29th floor of the Hearst Tower and it has a spectacular view of Central Park. Another tidbit I didn’t know: Good Housekeeping only puts their seal of approval on the products they stand behind. This institute performs rigorous tests on everything – from anti-aging skin care products, to toys, to recipes, and everything in between. So if you see the seal? Better believe it’s legit.
There was lots of important research going on when we were there, which was interesting to observe. I hope the researchers didn’t mind a bunch of bloggers photographing them on the other side of the glass.
I wonder if this skillet will end up getting the Good Housekeeping seal…or not.
Funny little story. As we were leaving, some of us struggled figuring out how to go back down the elevator. (Don’t laugh, the elevator is not as simple as pressing a button. You had to punch in letters, and numbers. It was scary.) Anyhow, a nice lady ended up giving a couple members of our group instructions. Guess who it was? Gayle King! Yes, editor-in-chief for O Magazine, Gayle King! (Too bad I didn’t recognize her and the others had to clue me in on the way down the elevator.)
After our tour, we were shuttled in style onto our next event, which was a group dinner we all prepared together with Home Cooking New York! We got to try out Essential Everyday products in delicious recipes. And also, I learned the correct way to chop mint. (Which is a good thing so there’s so much of it out back in my garden.)
I loved how Supervalu created a unique event for us bloggers around their Essential Everyday line. And if you’re wondering what we ate, guess what? I have the recipes for you, too!
Veggie Pita Pizza Snacks (pdf)
Edamame & Spinach Dip (pdf)
Mock Mojitos (pdf)
Shrimp Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa (pdf)
Bacon, Cheddar & Apple Panini (pdf)
Snickerdoodle Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches (pdf)
The evening was also a great time to connect with like-minded bloggers from around the country.
A highlight of the dinnertime conversation was a rather passionate discussion about the importance (or lack thereof) of canned cranberry sauce at the Thanksgiving Dinner table.
The next day, we got to hear from SuperValu Executives about the Essential Everyday line, including Sam Mayberry, Vice President of Private Brands. One thing that surprised me was that SuperValu plans to have it encompass over 2,700 items across 100 categories by 2013. You’re basically going to have a hard time NOT finding it in your store! For more information on what was shared, you might want to read the Press Release that was issued the same day of our event.
I was most looking forward to this next part: a guided culinary tour through the seasons with former Top Chef contestant and chef Antonio Lofaso! (Any Top Chef fans out there might remember her from Season 4, where she made it to the final 4! She also was in the All Stars, Season 8.)
Um, this was pretty much the most awesome thing. As in EVER. Us bloggers, along with media representatives from a number of news outlets and magazines, were led to this space that had been staged in four sections – one for each season of the year. We started in fall (which happens to be my favorite season), where we were served Thanksgiving dinner. And that’s to start.
For each season, Chef Antonia did a brief cooking demonstration while we were served fancy food that looked like this:
The food was ah-mazing, and it featured lots of Essential Everyday items, as you might imagine. How fun to try recipes developed by a chef I had seen on TV! (Yes, I am a total Top Chef groupie, I can’t hide the fact. I made sure to get to the front of the line at BlogHer ’10 so I could meet Padma.)
The only problem was that by the time summer rolled around I was so, so full. Like completely stuffed. It was all so delicious, so of course, you just kept on eating it all. And then, we had a barbecue to attend.
Later in the day, I noticed this tweet go up, and it just made me smile so big. SuperValu, you rock!
Chef Antonia did a perfect job representing what Essential Everyday is all about: affordable, quality cooking basics that you can easily turn into fantastic creations for your family! She is also coming out with a cookbook which will be released on August 2 (it’s called the Busy Mom’s Cookbook and you can pre-order it on Amazon if you like). We got an autographed, advanced proof of the book, and I can tell you the recipes look delicious (and some were served to us so I know they taste delicious too).
She was also super personable in real life. I only wish I had had time to pick her brain more about her Top Chef stint, such as did her blood pressure go through the roof when she took on the Executive Chef role for the Restaurant Wars challenge that Anthony Bourdain was the guest judge on? I may never know….
I want to thank SuperValu for their generous invite to attend this event and hear more what Essential Everyday is all about. Another huge thank you to Carmichael Lynch Spong who provided over-the-top service in coordinating all logistics of this event. (Seriously folks, at the first sign of rain, they went out and bought us all umbrellas.) It was a well-done event that made us bloggers feel recognized for the work we do and the many, many readers we represent.
I look forward to seeing more from Essential Everyday in the future. (And yes, you can keep those HOT $1 off Essential Everyday coupons comin’!)
Disclosure: While I was not paid or even asked to write this post, as you might have guessed SuperValu generously covered the costs involved for me to attend this event including hotel, airfare, and transportation. The opinions, ideas, and quips in this post are 100% mine. If you have any question about how this money makes site (and does NOT make money), there’s no mystery there – just stop by my Disclosure Policy.