Gina Nucci grew up in a family dedicated to the production and shipping of broccoli, certain as a child that she would be the one to leave Salinas, California and make her life elsewhere. But broccolini would bring Gina back into the fold. Our Sunday Supper editor, Stacy Rushton, met with her to learn more of her story and her company’s tasty Nourish Bowls.
It’s only 8 a.m. in California on a Tuesday. Gina Nucci was up at 4 o’clock feeding one of her twin baby boys and she’s already won a small battle with her five-year-old who wanted to stay home from school. Now she’s in the office early, just to meet with me by Skype. I share with her that my youngest was almost always looking for an angle that would make me let her stay home and we share a laugh about how funny children can be.
Despite her broken night’s sleep, Gina is radiant and bubbly with an infectious smile. My first question is about her nickname Gina Broccolini and she starts at the beginning.
She was just a few years old when her dad became partners with Mr. Mann, buying out a share of Mann Packing, where he had worked for many years. Always an innovator, Don Nucci was one of the first voices in agriculture that proposed adding nutritional information to packaging. Starting at age 10, Gina worked a few hours a week, out of the family garage, putting together nutritional packets that her father would mail out from the office the next day. She was on the part time payroll all through high school and worked at Mann Packing during the summer breaks in college but Gina was determined not to follow the typical path. Unlike most of her friends, she chose an out-of-state school. She wanted to travel.
After three years of science classes, studying for a degree in dietetics with straight C grades – here she gives a rueful laugh – she realized that she didn’t want to work as a registered dietician at a hospital. Gina completed her Bachelor of Science degree but decided she wanted a minor in marketing as well. She earned straight As in those classes.
Sticking with the plan of not going back to Salinas, Gina headed off to London to work for an internet marketing company. Then she traveled around Europe, only coming back to the States when she was broke. She laughs again.
Timing wasn’t great. It was the late ‘90s and California was suffering through the Dot-Com bust. Her brother had taken over at Mann Packing and he offered her a job as the brand manager of the newly developed vegetable, broccolini, a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan.
And that’s how she became Gina Broccolini. Broccolini was her baby and promoting it was fun.
With so many of her friends job hunting, Gina was grateful for the opportunity to work for a company she might possibly own some day. It also gave her the chance to travel extensively through the United States and Canada, promoting Mann’s fresh vegetables. Encouraging people to include more vegetables in their daily diets was preventative nutrition, an idea she completely embraced. As a bonus, she got to work closely with her brother, a gift she appreciated even more deeply when he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at only 40 years old.
Nowadays, Gina is a part owner of Mann’s. Her official title is director of corporate marketing, charged with developing, implementing, and evaluating marketing programs that promote Mann’s image in the marketplace. She just celebrated her 19th Manniversary – which is what they call it – with the company. She says it’s a great place to work, very supportive and flexible for parents. At this point, she jumps up and says, “Would you like to see?” She gives me a quick tour of her office, the walls lined with family photos and a decorative graphic that says, “Never, never give up.” Then she takes me down the hall to show off their Broccolini Café.
The Broccolini Café is more than an office lunchroom. There are two chillers full of Nourish Bowls and packaged veggies to which folks can help themselves, paying on an honor system. But there is also a fully-equipped kitchen with a stove and oven, plus two refrigerators and four microwaves. It’s cheerful and bright, with blue winter light streaming in from the tall windows that make up the long outside wall. There’s even a Ping-Pong table. Parents are welcome bring their older children to hang out there after school if they need a place to do homework. As much as I love working from home, I see the allure of a community gathering place, especially one as nice as the Broccolini Café. And I can totally get behind one of Gina’s mottos: It’s fun to have more fun.
Gina’s already got her own lunch figured out. She shows me her favorite Nourish Bowl, the Southwest Chipotle (with an avocado to add on top) at the ready for desktop dining. Weekend meals are just as healthy. Most of her family’s Sunday Suppers, she says, are grilled tri-tip – a particular-to-California cut of beef. She makes a big salad and serves Nourish Bowls as side dishes. We both agree that convenience foods can be healthy! It’s just a matter of choosing wisely.
In fact, she often uses Nourish Bowls to create other recipes, like enchiladas. Recently, she shares, a friend had twins so she made her an enchilada dinner using two Southwest Chipotle Nourish Bowls with ground turkey as the filling. Her tip to make them kid-friendly is to cut the enchilada sauce with a can of tomato sauce and use flour tortillas. She calls them her gringo enchiladas. Any leftover filling can be rolled into a burrito.
I always end every interview by asking if there is anything the person would like to add or share, if there’s one final thought or message they’d like to convey.
Gina thinks for a moment, then she says, “There’s always a time crunch when we get home from work. Packaged veggies and Nourish Bowls help me ‘fake it, don’t make it.’ I love my job, feeding people healthy options and supporting them. And you can save time with our products. Really, at the end of the day, that’s what we are trying to do, make eating fresh veggies easier. We are here to help the home cook spend more time with their families.”
And here at Sunday Supper, we are all about that! Want to learn more about Mann Packing and their delicious range of fresh prepared vegetables and Nourish Bowls? Check them out on social media.
Join us today, Sunday, January 22nd at 4 p.m. EST for a Facebook live recipe demonstration with Mann’s Nourish Bowls. Isabel, aka Family Foodie will be making one of her creative breakfast bowls. At the end of the video, a winner will be selected from the comment section to win a prize pack from Nourish Bowls! Watch here and comment during the live show for a chance to win: Sunday Supper Movement Facebook Community
Meanwhile check out all the great recipes and other ways our Sunday Supper tastemakers are using Nourish Bowls to make their lives healthier and easier.
- Cooking for One with Mann’s Nourish Bowls by Take A Bite Out of Boca
- Easiest Southwest Chipotle Tacos by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Easy Curry Cauliflower Rice Bowl with Egg by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
- Gluten Free Family Dinner with Nourish Bowls by Cricket’s Confections
- Healthy Dinner Solutions for the Late-Shift by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Healthy Eating on the Go by Wholistic Woman
- How to Eat Like a Foodie and Stay Healthy by Go Epicurista
- How to Eat Well When You Don’t Feel Up To It by Monica’s Table
- How to Fit Veggies into a Jam-Packed Week with Nourish Bowls by Casa de Crews
- How To Prepare Fresh Healthy Meals In A Snap by Dizzy Busy and Hungry
- Keeping Fit with a Pesky Sweet Tooth by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Monterey Risotto Enchiladas by Moore or Less Cooking
- Nourishing a Healthy Soul by Family Foodie
- Olive Oil-Poached Salmon Over Cauli-Rice Curry by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Sesame Sriracha Bowl with Kimchi Tofu by kimchi MOM
- Smokehouse Brussels Sprouts with Shrimp by Cooking Chat
- Smokehouse Steak Quiche by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Southwest Chipotle Tuna Bowls with Pico De Gallo by Simple and Savory
- Southwest Chipotle Grilled Chicken Bowl by The Chef Next Door
- Southwest Chipotle Pulled Pork Naan Bread Pizza by The Freshman Cook
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