Our team members are a big part of the success at F. Oliver’s. We’re connected by a love of food, an eagerness to learn, and a passion to share with each other and our customers. And if our shared passion for food and cooking group us together, our diversity in interests make us each distinct and unique. We kindly invite you to learn a bit more about us:
About the Proprietor, Penelope Pankow
Penelope Pankow, F. Oliver’s Proprietor
You could say Penelope took the scenic route to a career in hospitality. Beginning in public accounting, Penelope holds an MBA from Michigan State University and worked as an auditor for Coopers & Lybrand. From there she joined Eastman Kodak where she worked for 23 years, holding a number of positions in marketing, marketing research, and supply chain management.
In 2006, Penelope decided to follow her heart into hospitality and in 2007 received her masters in Hospitality Management from Cornell University. After working for others in hotel asset management, Penelope decided to build her own business and in 2010, opened her flagship F. Oliver’s store here in Canandaigua. F. Oliver’s is the culmination of her lifelong love of good food, the company of friends and family, and the desire to run her own business.
Penelope loves sharing the flavorful and interactive atmosphere of F. Oliver’s with new and old friends and is proud to have become a vital part of the locales that F. Oliver’s call home.
Melissa King, Store and Special Events Manager
Melissa first encountered F. Oliver’s when she helped a friend move to Rochester “My first impression was how it appealed to all my senses, it smelled so good and I loved the way these wonderful cooking ingredients were presented – elegant yet approachable.” She later made the move to the Finger Lakes area herself (from sunny California), taking over as the manager of our flagship Canandaigua location.
Melissa has traveled extensively in North and Central America and has lived in different regions of the US as well as spending many years in Spain. Her experience cooking in different cultures is a real benefit to visitors to F. Oliver’s. “I was amazed at how many hard to find spices we carry,” said Melissa, “a great way into a region’s culture is through their food. When I’m working in the store I feel like I can travel around the world just by smelling and tasting.”
Teaching is in Melissa’s blood and she loves sharing information about food and cooking and how to use F. Oliver’s exceptional ingredients. She is currently sharing a couple of her favorite usage tips, “Our basil oil on just out of the oven pizza is wonderful.” Another recommendation she often makes is using Firehouse Salt on fresh sweet corn or garden tomatoes. “These are my current favorites,” she says, “but I’m always trying something new and it’s so much fun encouraging others to do the same.”
Melissa loves Canandaigua and being a part of F. Oliver’s almost ten years in the town. “Many of our customers tell us they’ve with us since the beginning and I love that. I’m proud to be a source of inspiration for our customers and our community.” She takes great pride in supporting other small businesses in downtown Canandaigua as well as participating in the region’s many wonderful events. “Canandaigua is a gem in the Finger Lakes and I’m proud to be an ambassador of flavor and culinary inspiration.”
Stacey Mrva, Director, Store Operations / Rochester Store Manager
Stacey’s art is what first brought her to F. Oliver’s, “I was commissioned by the owner to create a custom piece of artwork for the store,” says Stacey, “ but I’ve been coming back for the amazing products ever since.” She visited the store to get a feel for it before beginning her piece and immediately felt welcomed. “The store was beautiful. I love to cook and to try new things and I left feeling very inspired.”
Stacey has been cooking since childhood and learned from her mother, “When we went out to eat, my mom would taste a dish and try to recreate it at home. I learned so much from her adventurous spirit.” While Stacey had a great teacher, she knows that not everyone grew up in the kitchen, “Cooking is not intuitive to everyone. I love to show people that making a delicious meal doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult.”
Single varietals are Stacey’s favorite, “I had no idea there was so much depth of flavor in olive oils. They add such dimension to any dish, whether you are sauteing or finishing a dish with a healthy drizzle.” And her favorite advice to give customers? “Don’t be afraid to try new things!”
Rochester is quickly becoming a great city for foodies and Stacey is among the first. “We have such great restaurants here with some very talented chefs. People are being inspired to try new things and we offer them some wonderful inspiration. We are also a very health-conscious town. More and more people are coming into the store to take advantage of the health benefits of our products.”