Gourmand Specialty Foods, Inc.

June 5, 2002



Austin to lead growing U.S.-based producer & distributor of specialty foods

CHICAGO, Ill.—June 5, 2002: Prospect Partners, LLC of Chicago, Illinois is proud to announce that Michael B. Austin has been named Chief Executive Officer of Gourmand Specialty Foods, Inc. (“GSF”) of Herndon, Virginia, effective immediately. GSF is a producer and distributor of high quality, branded gourmet foods and ingredients for the finest restaurants and hotels in the United States. Formed in 1999 by Chicago-based private equity firm Prospect Partners, LLC with Gourmand, Inc., GSF has swiftly grown through a series of targeted acquisitions. GSF’s business units now include: Gourmand, Inc., Hudson Valley Foie Gras, De Choix Specialty Foods Company, and Specialty Game, Inc., with sales and distribution centers in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

GSF’s newly appointed CEO Michael Austin boasts an impressive, diversified thirty-year career in the foodservice industry, with experience in sales and marketing, operations, and top-level management for such companies as SYSCO Corporation, Kraft Foodservice, US Foodservice, and Atlanta Foods International.

Austin began his career with Oscar Mayer & Company in sales, moving on to Ore Ida Foods where he managed the sales and marketing programs for a division of H.J. Heinz. After Ore Ida, Austin joined the SYSCO Corporation where he spent nearly ten years building his managerial experience in the operations and purchasing side of the business. In the early 90’s, Austin joined Kraft Foodservice of Houston, Texas as a General Manager. In 1994, Austin joined Atlanta, Georgia-based US Foodservice as President, moving on to lead Atlanta Foods International of Atlanta, Georgia, a specialty foods distribution and manufacturing company, as President and COO.

Most recently, Austin was President & CEO of Dave’s Cakes/Meurer Bakery Company of Atlanta, Georgia and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In his one-year tenure with Dave’s prior to accepting his new position at GSF, Austin secured the company’s long-term growth by expanding product distribution to key mass outlets nationwide, including the largest national chain and club accounts. Austin’s extensive experience in the foodservice industry positions him as the pivotal next step in leading GSF as it continues to grow.

"GSF has rapidly expanded over the past three years, and we want to ensure we have the leadership in-place to shepherd our continued growth," explains William V. Glastris, a Principal of Prospect Partners, LLC. "Mike is exactly what we are looking for to lead this charge. He has top-to-bottom experience and expertise in all facets of the foodservice industry. Mike’s role will be to lead the businesses within GSF so they work as an integrated entity in securing GSF’s long-term growth—a role Mike has embraced and succeeded in many times before. We are very proud to welcome Mike to our team.”

“GSF is a growing company with untapped potential,” says Mike Austin. “The specialty foods industry is one in which various entities must come together and work in a highly-integrated manner, yet retain their unique, specialized brand independence and identity,” he explains. “GSF is the umbrella over an impressive roster of specialty foods companies. I am excited to come on board at such a key juncture in GSF’s growth, and am looking forward to working with Michael Ginor [President of Hudson Valley Foie Gras], Gene Kaplan [President of De Choix], David Vohaska [President of Specialty Game], and the team at Prospect Partners.”

Gourmand, Inc. of Herndon, Virginia is a twenty-five-year-old leading importer and distributor of specialty foods, with a full line of specialty products that include truffles, foie gras, caviar and a complete line of pastry ingredients. Hudson Valley Foie Gras of Ferndale, New York is the leading producer of Foie Gras and Moulard Duck products in North America. De Choix Specialty Foods Company of Woodside, New York is a pioneer in the specialty and global food industry, with over twelve hundred upscale and innovative food products ranging from imported couvertures, grilled vegetables, artisan cheeses and cured meats to Asian condiments, European pastry, baking and gelato ingredients. Specialty Game, Inc. is a dedicated supplier of the freshest game and game birds, natural poultry, smoked meats and fish, wild mushrooms, herbs and other culinary treasures from around the world.

Prospect Partners, LLC of Chicago manages a $105 million private equity fund focused on management-led leveraged acquisitions of lower middle market businesses with niche strategies. Together, Prospect Partners and GSF are seeking to acquire other branded producers and marketers of specialty food products such as fish, game, cheeses, meats and pastry ingredients.

Back to Press Releases

February 12, 2001
Gourmand Specialty Foods, Inc. Acquires Specialty Game, Inc.
December 11, 2000
Merger of Gourmand Specialty Foods, Inc. & De Choix is Recipe for Success
June 8, 2000
Hudson Valley Foie Gras, LLC Acquires Assets of A.G.Y. Corporation.
September 17, 1999
Gourmand, Inc. merges with Gourmand Specialty Foods, Inc.