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Alberta grocer first in food festival

Freson Bros.

Alberta's largest independent grocery chain is strutting its stuff at Taste of Edmonton, the country's largest food festival.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to share our experience, know how, and love of food," said Mandi Fawcett, marketing director of Freson Bros. Fresh Market.

The 15-store chain is showcasing its popular Ivan’s Sausage brand, warm cabbage coleslaw and slow roasted rotisserie pork at the show, which is being held at Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton from July 16-25.

Freson Bros. Fresh Market is the first grocer to be invited to the event, which has been a mid-summer tradition in the Albertan capital for the past 31 years.

Until now, the invite-only event had been an exclusive venue for Edmonton restaurants and chefs to flaunt their food and beverages.

Fawcett said the reputation and quality of the food being developed by Freson Bros.'s unique home-cooking kitchen services helped to earn a nod of approval from the Taste of Edmonton judges who visited the 60-year-old company's new flagship store and headquarters in Stony Plain earlier this year.

"They loved our food," Fawcett told Canadian Grocer last week from the store, which opened in 2013 and is a 20-minute drive west of downtown Edmonton.  "We're honoured to have been selected."

Like the Lovsin family-owned chain's other stores across Alberta, the Stony Plain store features a vast selection of fresh foods and grocery items.

In recent years, however, it has put a premium on its 'Fresh Market' brand, and the development of designs, graphics and services that aim to create a unique in-store food experience.

The most notable focus has been on the chain's half-dozen in-store kitchens, which are dubbed Hot Kitchen, Deli Kitchen, Kitchen Counter, Kitchen of the World, Fresh Kitchen, and Harvest Kitchen.

Each has chefs who whip up daily varieties of hot and cold meals, many of which feature fresh Alberta beef, pork and chicken.

Complementing those meals are everything from deli meat, cheese and sandwiches to pizza and salad from 20-foot-long salad bars.

People can either eat on site or take out prepared foods - everything from combo meals and beef-on-a-bun to full roasts that are prepared and cooked on site.

"We really focus on food and fresh," said Fawcett.  "People are so busy.  We want to help them by offering real hard working home cooking."

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