Where do you live?
I live in plantation.
How long have you lived in the area?
We’ve lived in plantation for approximately 18 years.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to town?
We sold our company in New York in the 80’s and I had to decide to move to Florida or to Vermont. I had met my wife just right before that. We were dating, and she said, oh my parents live in Florida. So, we moved to Florida.
How did you meet?
In a drunken state of mind. I threw a surprise party for a friend, and one of her girlfriends invited her to come along. When my wife walked through the door, I walked up to her and said I am going to marry you, and she told me in a four-letter word to go away. And we ended up getting married about six months later. You have to be persistent in life.
Please share about what you do for a livelihood or what keeps you busy during the week?
During the week I pack pickles. And I do a few other markets on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
I know you’ve been in many businesses; how did you get to pickles?
I started at 16 years old in a food distribution company that my family owned in New York. I started out picking orders at 2:00 in the morning in a warehouse. From there I continued moving up in the company until we sold the food distribution company to Kraft foods. After that, I was in the cheese manufacturing business in Wisconsin. Each Monday morning, we would manufacture kosher cheese because the lines were clean, and we did that for about four years. One year, we had a big show in California and we came up with a promotional item which was a cheese head – the now famous cheese head. My mother was on the front page of the LA Times wearing the first one we ever made. We got done with the shows and the promotional company took the cheese head and made it very famous. If only I would have patented it!
From there, I manufactured potato pancakes and pie shells for the iHop chain. That’s when I came down to Florida and started a locksmith company. We opened safes all over the United States and did lock work. I sold that five and a half years ago and I went into pickle manufacturing.
How do you make a good pickle?
First of all experience. I learned from an old timer. After 100 mistakes, it’s easy.
The cucumbers must be very fresh. They go into cold water with spices and then it depends on the pickle. Some pickles stay two or three months in barrels, like sour pickles. I make the habanero pickles two to three weeks in advance so that they’re good and hot when the consumer gets them.
What’s the worst pickle catastrophe you’ve ever had?
Putting way too many North Carolina Reapers into a 55-gallon drum and they were way too hot. I had it throw them out because couldn’t sell them. Totally too hot.
Where do your cucumbers come from?
I can get cucumbers from Florida for about four months out of the year. When the local season ends, they come from Alabama and North Carolina.
What’s your most popular pickle? Which is your favorite?
The most popular pickle is my half sour pickle cause their made every other day. Very green, very crunchy, very fresh. My favorite is the New York Sour pickle.
You mentioned, you specialized in opening safes. Can you open any safe and what’s the process like?
If it’s built, it’s meant to be defeated. The process is very technical because the high security safes have glass plates in the back that, if broken, send re-lockers through the safe. The manufacturers put them in different places to try to mess you up. It’s exciting because it’s always different.
Can you teach us how to pick locks?
I can’t tell you because I must keep it top secret. But you will need a pick and tension wrench and a lot of time to learn. It’s all about the feel.
How long have you been doing the Pinecrest market?
I’ve been doing the Pinecrest market for about four years now. My wife started going and just selling cheese. That was not enough to sustain the business, so we asked if we could start selling our pickles.
What’s your Sunday ritual?
I get up about 3:00 in the morning and I go to the warehouse to get the stuff together for our other markets. I pack the coolers for each person to pick up. Each market gets a different quantity of cheese and pickles. I’ll leave the warehouse about 5:00 in the morning to get to Pinecrest at 6. Then, we finish up about 2:00 and I’m leaving around 3:30pm.
What’s your favorite thing from LNB Grovestand?
Of course, the smoothies. My daughter and I love the smoothies that come from your farm. I like the rainbow. And then the fruits that you have. I’m always learning about different fruits that you grow. The Lychees, when you have them, are the best.
What’s your favorite thing to buy at other stands at the market?
I bring home flowers from Sydney, for my wife, all the time. My wife and my daughter are vegan and Zak makes some vegan breads that I’ll pick up. I used to like Artichoke. Also, I like the popcorn and the honey and when Bee Heaven is there, I’ll get a bunch of vegetables.
What’s a favorite activity you enjoy with your daughter?
My daughter just got back two weeks ago from college after five and a half years. So the activities have changed. We like to go birdwatching and she likes to go kayaking now. Growing up, she was very into horses. She would ride all over the place and compete in horse shows.
You’ve mentioned that you live with a lot of animals. Who’s in the yard?
My pet pig is named is Nigel. He’s about 300/350 pounds. I got him when I was 50 and I just turned 61 last week. He’s my buddy. We hang out together. He roams the property. We live on about an acre and a half. Just recently, we gave away two miniature ponies, that were my daughter’s. She went to school for five years and left me with the ponies, the pig, the chickens, two turtles and the whole farm.
Where do you like to go out to eat? Any recommendations?
We’re in Fort Lauderdale, so it’s a little bit far you guys. We love Acqua Farina, which means water flour in Italian. I’m a chicken parmigiana guy. We have a great Greek restaurant nearby called Greek Thassos that has great grape leaves and hummus.
What do you like to cook at home?
A lot of soup. Sometimes I’ll make a Vegan ‘egg sandwich’ for my wife. I take tofu and chop it up very fine and scramble it like eggs. I add some dried tomatoes, pinoli nuts and our aioli spread and when I get done, you can’t tell the difference.
Where’s the most romantic spot around?
We liked to go to the beach and just hang out at night – it’s very romantic – just two of us. We bring a bottle of wine.
Outside of pickles, what hobbies do you have?
I used to like classic cars and had a bunch of classic cars. I had several 1957 Chevy classics that I restored.
Is there a question that you would like to ask the LNBs?
Keep making the great smoothies. I’m good with that.
Is there a question that you would like to ask the community?
Not a question – but an appreciation. Not every market is the same. I love the Pinecrest market. The people are phenomenal. It’s like a family. I get the same customer’s every week saying good morning. It’s so fun. I have a choice to do any market, but I pick this one even though it takes an hour to get there and an hour to get home. I love it.