Daniele Foods has a 60 year history of creating gourmet products. In 1976, the company came to Pascoag, Rhode Island, and has been making specialized Italian meats in the Ocean State ever since. Co-owner, Davide Dukcevich, told WPRO about his business' rich history.
WPRO: How did you get started in business?
Davide Dukcevich: My grandparents founded Daniele in Italy in 1945. They were war refugees from Croatia and through hard work and smarts they built a successful charcuterie business. My father brought the company to Rhode Island in 1976. My brother and I are now busy keeping their alive their legacy.
WPRO: What were challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
DD: The biggest challenge, still, is that many Americans aren’t familiar with what we make. I often get emails asking, “what is prosciutto?”, or “how do I eat it?” The problem is receding, thanks to media like the Food Network and Saveur Magazine. Even HBO’s "The Sopranos" helped – people wanted to eat the same meats Tony and Carmela were eating!
WPRO: What advice would you give to people looking to start a business in Rhode Island?
DD: Take advantage of the resources around you. Reach out to the community. We’ve found Rhode Island to be neighborly – perhaps that’s thanks to its small size. For example, the stellar culinary community in Rhode Island has been very supportive of us, especially restaurants like Farmstead and Avenue N. And we’ve found top notch schools such as RISD and Johnson & Wales receptive towards collaborations. We've recently launched a new line of locally made products. With the help of our community, we created a line of charcuterie using pork raised on New England farms. Our New England inspired label was designed by students from the Rhode Island School of Design and we also worked with Chefs from Johnson and Wales University to develop new tasty recipes. We are excited to continue working with our community and support local farmers.
WPRO: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?
DD: The power of story-telling. Whether I’m discussing our company’s origins, or what inspired a new product launch, telling an engaging story is what people most strongly respond to. It creates a visceral, intimate connection. It communicates passion. I would never want to rely solely on data – that would be like losing our soul.
WPRO: What is your favorite thing about being based in Rhode Island?
DD: I’m thrilled to see a growing sense of pride in Rhode Island, especially among young people. There’s an appreciation of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place full of original thinkers. It’s a zeitgeist that manifests itself in innovative new restaurants, bars, art shows, and events like Eat Drink RI.
WPRO: How do you think businesses can contribute to the future of Rhode Island?
Rhode Island can become America’s culinary capital. We have Johnson & Wales, nationally recognized restaurants, thriving manufacturers and terrific farmer’s markets. California may have Silicon Valley, but we can mint ourselves as Food Valley. Shining a light on this growing and sustainable sector will bring in tourists, jobs and international recognition.