|California Vegetable Specialties
The only endive producer in the United States, California Vegetable Specialties, is located in the Solano County town of Rio Vista. Endive, pronounced “on-deev”, is a slightly bitter vegetable most often used in salads and appetizers. It is a favorite ingredient of gourmet chefs and fetches a premium based on its difficulty to produce.
Rich Collins is part owner and president of CVS. It was his vision and determination that started as Rebel Farms 25 years ago in Vacaville. After several years on his own growing and selling endive locally, Collins formed an international partnership with French and Spanish partners and created California Vegetable Specialties, which has since grown to 60 employees, a 30,000 square foot production facility and the production of 4 million pounds of endive a year.
CVS’ endive comes from chicory plants, grown on 300 acres of farmland in Northern California. After spring sowing, the chicory roots are harvested in the fall and early winter and placed in cold storage at the Rio Vista facility. There they are kept for up to 11 months. The roots are placed in dark, humid forcing rooms where they re-sprout and in three to four weeks endive is ready to harvest from the top of the chicory root. Collins then packs and ships the endive all over the United States and around the Pacific Rim.
Collins and CVS are known as innovators and perfectionists in the food industry and market heavily to gourmet chefs and high end food connoisseurs who appreciate the uniqueness and quality of their endive. Collins sees a bright future for endive consumption in the United States as it gains more exposure among discerning diners. If you have enjoyed endive here in the United States, chances are great that it came from Solano County and California Vegetable Specialties.