Bindi, who was making gelato and other desserts at the time, thought he could help restaurants locate, for one thing, the fresh ingredients that were so hard to find, according to Campanile, Bindi USA’s director of sales for its distribution network.
“He wanted to see if he could be of any help to these restaurants. Italy was such a shambles after the war, and he could offer them fresh desserts, already made, so they didn’t have to worry about that. It was a relief for Milan, something fresh made outside but looking like it was made in-house. It was very well received by the restaurants there,” he says.
The pastry shop started with cakes very much like clients might make at home. “He first went with a bicycle, then a tricycle, delivering these cakes. It took from 45 minutes to two hours for one delivery!” he explains.
The business continued to grow and soon, Bindi’s sons joined him. (The company is now in its third generation.) In the 1960s, refrigerated technology became more available, and the concept of freezing was born. “But anything from that time that was frozen was of poor quality,” says Campanile. “In the ’60s and ’70s, only people who had a low budget would buy the frozen food. We decided to bring up the quality in frozen desserts and send them larger distances.”
Bindi Desserts came to the U.S. in 1992. “By then, we were in many European countries,” he says. “We went from Milan to northern Italy, penetrating markets in Europe. Our basic concept was, we are at your service, bringing you high-quality, finished desserts, with nothing for you to do. We offer you some choices that look very much like they were made-in house, with the best of ingredients. They can stand next to your dishes easily. We bring the passion and the consistency to your dessert making. After Europe, we thought about crossing the ocean and we came over here.”
The company now sells its products in South Korea, Turkey, and Greece, all over Europe, along with the U.S. Bindi USA services the restaurant, hotel, and catering sectors.
The pastry business first sold cakes in the U.S., as it did in the beginning in Milan. “Today we sell cakes, croissants, mousse, cupcakes, cheesecakes, gelato, you name it, in the U.S.,” says Campanile.
Bindi Desserts continued to evolve in Milan. “Our original desserts were Italian style but we’re now trying to show something new,” he says. “In the U.S., it was different. Baby Boomers were a sharing population. ‘I want my kids to eat it, too,’ they said, about desserts. So we started making single-serve items. We listened to the market. When we realized that Americans pay attention to their waists, we realized we had to be even more responsive and brought a factory to the U.S.”
Bindi USA opened its gelato factory in Kearny, N.J. 22 years ago. “Even though it was not required for gelato, we followed FDA guidelines,” says Campanile. “We wanted to reproduce everything we do in Italy, so we bring ingredients from suppliers who have been with us for many years, and we made from-scratch gelato in the U.S., following our recipes. But then we thought, why not offer some of the desserts that are more of the history of this country? In Europe, desserts were historically made for the upper class, it was something consumed only by the elite, the counts and dukes and duchesses. European-style desserts are very sumptuous, light in sugar, light at the bottom, very much the tradition of the best Italian chefs.” But here, in this country, there are some differences. “You have a different background here. People are more concerned with nutrition. Initially, they wanted something to nourish people working in the fields, in mines, to give you strength to go. American dessert has lots of richness to it,” he says.
Campanile notes that Bindi USA wanted to marry the concept of Italian desserts with American style. “We came up with cheesecake,” he says. “We manipulate some of the elements, like sugar and butter, making cakes that look substantial in the American way. Then we added more layer cakes and cheese cakes to our menu.”
Bindi has recently launched dessert sauces so chefs have more flexibility with this part of the meal. “In the line, we were also trying to offer something not finished. Our desserts are usually from the freezer, defrosted and served, and the trend now is to give a dressing of the dish, on top of the plate or the dessert, so we made these sauces. We mix chocolate with the more mild flavor of raspberry, for example. The desserts are unfinished so chefs can use our sauces to decorate the tops.”
The company also has seasonal launches. “In the fall, at the end of August, we will have the whole pumpkin line up – and a new flavor of gelato, pumpkin. We have a seasonal pumpkin cheesecake, a single-serving size, and we’ve thought about a little twist on our cheesecake, with a gingerbread bottom with caramel sauce on top. We’re always on the move to understand the market,” he says.
Campanile says the company always does a little bit of a mix to revamp interest, and catch up with new markets. “Fifty-five percent of our ideas come from our mother house in Italy, the factory in Milan. But we still listen to what’s popular in other countries. In America we introduced the pistachio cheesecake, following up on the craving for pistachio, a healthy nut. We’ve also experimented with the concept of savory and salt, with our chocolate salted caramel soufflé. We’ve also introduced gelato cakes. We try to keep up with the trends and the needs.”
But where the company really stands out is in the way it distributes its desserts, he says. Since they come frozen, maintaining the right temperature at all times is key. “We’re able to control one of the most important things besides the quality of our desserts. In order to have the final product in front of the customer, we must control the temperature from production to distribution and we feel we have in place quite an interesting and strong sub-zero distribution system, with our partners. Our products have to be at a controlled temperature until they get to the customer. We want our customers to believe it never was a frozen item. It’s a fine art, handling the product from creating it here in the U.S. to transporting it and keeping the temperature right so when it’s finally out on the table, it’s perfect.”
Bindi USA has its own trucks for distribution in New York City and northern New Jersey, and works with specialty distributors in other states. Bindi products are sold mostly to white tablecloth restaurants, though, Campanile points out that can be a little difficult now. “There are a lot of new concepts coming out, they’re places that are not used to the white tablecloth,” Campanile says. “Therefore we have to target them, too.”
Campanile says the company sees itself as a partner. “Sometimes a pastry chef at a large hotel might have an extra event he can’t fulfill, so he will feel very comfortable having our product sit right next to his creations. The Bindi family focus has always been to be of service to the foodservice industry. Dessert is the last thing you remember more than anything else from a meal, so most restaurants would rather have something of higher quality. Maybe higher-priced but a good offering,” he says.
“We want to bring the remembrance and experience of our DNA of being a European dessert company but we also want to be present and play locally in the American market,” he says. “We’ve been here many years now. We feel like a part of it, and we want to give our contribution to the US marketplace with innovation, quality, reliability and services.”
Campanile says the company believes it’s one of the best partners in foodservice. “For us it is very important to reach out, to put our ears to the ground, to understand your needs. We are the dessert solution for your company.”
He says he likes to think of it this way, “The cherry on the sundae is always the test. That’s when I know if I succeed or fail.” Please visit, http://www.bindiusa.com/ for more information.