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Celebrating the Heritage Families Behind Centuries-Old Food and Drinks


Oriana Leckert | May 2, 2018
A glimpse at five esteemed food businesses that have been family-owned and -operated for up to six generations.

This month Per La Mente takes a look at some of the most venerable families in the culinary and libations world, visiting Fernet-Branca’s distillery in Milan, Guittard’s chocolate factory in San Francisco, Raffetto’s pasta-making shop in Manhattan, Vella’s cheese caves in Sonoma, and Acme’s fish-smoking plant in Brooklyn. These businesses have been family-owned and -operated for their entire existences, from 78 to 173 years — enabling each generation to pass along its values, wisdom, business acumen, and legacy to the next.

In this video, you’ll hear lessons in business and life from family members in the third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth generations of these distinguished businesses: Niccoló and Edoardo Branca; Amy Guittard; Romana, Andrew, and Sarah Raffetto; Chickie Vella and Miranda and Gabriel Luddy; and Adam Caslow. They share principles they have inherited and hope to pass on, as well as the integrity, discipline, and passion it has taken to keep these legacy companies operational for so many years.

Running a legacy business requires staying true to the company’s origins while finding ways to keep pace with the wide world around you. As the Fernet-Branca motto states: novare serbando, or “innovate while preserving tradition.” This represents one of the tenets of success for all of these heritage companies: binding past principles with modern traditions. Each continues to rely on tools and practices that have been in use since the companies were founded, but each has also evolved and innovated in order to remain relevant and successful through changing times. May they continue to prosper and thrive for another 100 years.

For more stories and wisdom from Edoardo Branca, go here.

To sip 5 distinguished drinks inspired by heritage and history, click here.

To read about chefs preserving family traditions through food, go here.

To read about sisters making new business traditions, click here.

For other creative people, join the Fernet-Branca Family

Oriana Leckert is a writer, editor, cultural hipstorian [sic], and the author of Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture & Creativity. Her writing has appeared on Slate, Atlas Obscura, New York Post, Matador, Hyperallergic, Gothamist, Curbed, Brooklyn Magazine, Brooklyn Based, and more.


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