Recap of the 2017 Dinner Dance: The FPFC's Marvin Quebec and Connie Stukenberg, Frieda's Karen Caplan, and San Miguel's Garrett Nishimori Discuss

Mon. January 30th, 2017 - by Melissa De Leon Chavez

DANA POINT, CA - The fun and flavor of Havana descended on Southern California as produce industry members collected in their feisty best for the annual FPFC Dinner Dance.

This year’s event, themed Escape to Havana Nights, was held at a new location, the Monarch Beach Resort in beautiful Dana Point, California, which helped even more to bring the theme to life as many enjoyed the patios and scenery.

Monarch Beach Resort, Laguna, CAAmong the delicious dinner and dancing, and of course a few tasty drinks, was a passing of the torch as the FPFC’s 2016 Chair Marvin Quebec became Immediate Past Chair. 2017's Chairwoman is produce veteran Connie Stukenberg.

Connie took the time to tell me a little bit about stepping into the role as Chairwoman and what she would like to achieve in the coming year.

Connie Stukenberg, Chairwoman, Fresh Produce and Floral Council“I very much look forward to my year as Chair, the FPFC is in a strong position with a highly experienced Board of Directors and FPFC Staff as well. There are a couple of things I would love to affect; one is membership and member involvement so we can continue to shape the future of our industry. The other is connectivity; I want us to continue to build strong relationships that blossom into strong friendships, and help our board members to feel more empowered in making a difference.”

When I congratulated Marvin on not only a successful year in the lead role, but as the FPFC’s first Chair from Northern California, he shared with me some of his goals as Immediate Past Chair.

Marvin Quebec, Immediate Past Chair, Fresh Produce and Floral Council“When directors first come in, there is always a period where they are quieter as they grow into their role. It's to the FPFC's benefit that we use the talents they bring to the table sooner rather than later,” he shared. “I'm very excited about some of the new faces we have, like Kristin Reid of Mixtec, and Sean McClure of Ready Pac Foods who have a lot to offer to the FPFC."

We also welcomed FPFC's latest apprentice class as we celebrated the graduates of 2016 and leaders-in-the-making for produce.

Once the thanks were given, the band The Groove returned from last year’s event to get all produce members moving to a fun range of live music.

2017 Escape to Havana Nights Dinner Dance

One part of the finale was the selection of the grand $20,000 prize winner; attendees waited with bated breath as one of the final announcements was winner Van Ambatielos, of United Melon. 

Karen Caplan, President & CEO, Frieda's Specialty Produce“The FPFC Dinner dance, AKA the “Produce Prom” is always a fun evening,” Karen Caplan, CEO & President of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, told me. “It was a great venue to catch up with lots of produce friends in a more social, fun environment. And the Monarch Beach Resort was a beautiful place, with lots of smaller areas to network and talk with friends. I’ve been attending the annual Dinner Dance since I was in college–and this year was one of the best!”

Though it was only my second time to have the privilege of going, I have to agree.

Garrett Nishimori, Marketing Manager and Corporate Chef, San Miguel ProduceGarrett Nishimori of San Miguel Produce added, "The FPFC Dinner Dance is an event I look forward to each year to celebrate the past year and look forward to the upcoming year. A big thanks to the Dinner Dance Committee and Board of Directors, and congrats to the graduating apprentice class."

The music and the opportunities to connect went on throughout the night, and the industry finished off the evening with a bang as we welcome a new year.