Where can I find this salad dressing?
February 24, 2011 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone help me find a way to buy this salad dressing which is only sold for foodservice use?

At my job, every so often we will have a catered lunch provided for meetings. Most often we will get pizza or sandwiches from a nearby restaurant. Once in a blue moon (like once a year, or less) we get it catered by the cafeteria in our office building - most people here aren't crazy about their food.

Last year when the cafeteria provided the food, they had this mixed green salad with this incredible dressing. I asked the person who had ordered the food if she knew what it was. She checked with the cafeteria and gave me an answer: "Classique" by Pfeiffer, but unfortunately it is not sold in stores.

I did some checking online, and found that Pfeiffer is a subsidiary of Marzhetti. I emailed Marzhetti on the off chance there would be a way to order it from them, but they wrote back:

"Thank you for your e-mail inquiring about our Pfeiffer Classique Dressing. This product is manufactured exclusively for foodservice use, and is therefore only available to restaurants and cafeterias. We do not sell this to individuals. We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news!"

The last time the cafeteria catered (months ago) I actually took the rest of the dressing home (after it was clear that everyone else was done eating) but we haven't had any of their food since. I really, really like this stuff, so I was wondering if anyone might have any suggestions for how a consumer could buy something that's just for foodservice? I can't really describe what it tastes like or what is in it, so I can't recreate it myself. It's sort of translucent (so it's not creamy like ranch, but not like a vinagrette either) with a slight tang.

I've considered the possibility of going to the cafeteria myself and asking someone about it, but I wasn't sure if that would be appropriate. I don't know anyone at the cafeteria (I always bring my lunch) so I would feel weird just walking in and asking if they would order some salad dressing for me to buy (and it might be against their policies anyway). Any ideas?
posted by LaurenIpsum to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
I think you should just stroll into the cafeteria one day and ask them to order some for you. It might be a little weird, but who cares? If it'll get you your salad dressing, then it's worth it. You never know until you ask.

(I once went through more than 10 people in the cafeteria system in college trying to get my hands on two raw eggs. The people needed brownies!)

Another thought: do you have a Restaurant Depot near you? It might be worth giving them a call.
posted by phunniemee at 12:38 PM on February 24, 2011

You might've seen this already, but just in case here's the product info page from Marzetti, including an ingredient list. It might be hard to source the "corn-cider vinegar" if you were going to try to make it at home.
posted by contraption at 12:43 PM on February 24, 2011

I'm almost positive I've seen that at Sysco.
posted by aramaic at 12:46 PM on February 24, 2011

I don't know if the cafeteria would order some for you specifically, but is it just sitting out on the salad bar or whatever with the other dressings? If so, I'd just mosey up and load up a container and let them sort out the pricing at the cash register. If not, I'd ask to speak with the cafeteria manager and explain the situation and see if they'd be willing to fill a large container for me.

A restaurant near me has an incredible mojo sauce that I love to use as a salad dressing, and they are always happy to give me a pint of it for $5 to take home.
posted by anderjen at 12:48 PM on February 24, 2011

Go down to the caf duting a non-busy period (a little after lunch? mid-morning?) and buy a drink or snack, then chat up an employee who works near the salad bar. Learn their name. After a few days of friendly chit-chat, comment on the salad dressing, ask where it's from, express your undying love for it. If you're lucky they'll give you some for free in a water bottle, or if they have the authority, they might order some for you next time.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:49 PM on February 24, 2011

Pfieffer's Sweet and Sour comes in a consumer-sized bottle and has a similar ingredient list. I'm sure it's not the same stuff, but maybe you'd like it too?
posted by contraption at 12:49 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Looking at the product info page I see it is described as "creamy" and "Italian"; Pfeiffer does sell a Creamy Italian that might be very similar, if not the same.

If asking at the cafeteria doesn't work out; if you know anyone at all in the food and beverage industry they might be able to order some for you; I have had restaurant managers and owners order me everything from gallon jars of pitted kalamata olives to several boneless legs of lamb at cost just by asking.
posted by TedW at 1:00 PM on February 24, 2011

Near me there is a food service store open to the public where things like this can be acquired. (Also flippin' sweet cooking gear at good prices.) They do a lot of direct-to-restaurant sales but also have the retail outlet (with wholesale prices) of a smaller selection, and they can special-order something to the retail outlet that's normally only sold direct-to-restaurant.

So I'd check your yellow pages/google-fu and see if there's a food service retail store near you that's also open to the public.

I can also buy the little mini sizes of butter/jam/dressing there in bulk to stick in packed lunches, or 10 lbs. of shredded lettuce for throwing a taco bar party w/o having to do my own shredding. Seriously the best store I've ever discovered since it provides so many not-often-needed-but-lifesaving-when-they-are conveniences!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:06 PM on February 24, 2011

I agree with those who say to just ask someone in the cafeteria. My guess is someone there will either sell you some from the shelf or just give it to you (sometimes easier than figuring out how to take payment for something like that when they don't normally sell it, especially if the dollar amount is small). I've been in similar situations in the past, and have never been unable to get the item once I found the right person to ask. Just make it clear that you're willing to pay, and aren't trying to get something for free (it's ok if they offer to give it to you for free, but IMHO it's inappropriate to ask for that).
posted by sharding at 1:15 PM on February 24, 2011

It's salad dressing. Taste it, note what flavors are there, and make it yourself. There are only a dozen or so typical ingredients that could potentially be in any salad dressing, and the color and thickness alone narrow it down by a lot.

Is it a creamy dressing or a vinaigrette? Or something that isn't quite either one? Does it taste sweet, spicy, or tart? What color is it? Is there variation in the color, or little solid bits (herbs, pepper, etc)? Do you taste anything similar to something you've tasted before, like sour cream, mustard, or vinegar?

$20 at the supermarket and an afternoon in the kitchen playing alchemist should do it, especially if you can get a sample from the cafeteria.
posted by Sara C. at 1:35 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just checked out the PDF linked by contraption.

You can make this at home. It's basically neutral oil and vinegar with added sugar, salt, parsley, and green onion. If you can dice an onion and shake a jar, you can make this. The hardest part is going to be figuring out which oil and which vinegar to use - which, like I said above, should be doable with a little time playing alchemist in your kitchen. I would start with canola oil and either cider or white wine vinegar and play from there. You probably don't want strong stuff like olive oil or balsamic vinegar - think light, herby, neutral.
posted by Sara C. at 1:41 PM on February 24, 2011

Buy a bottle of Pfieffer's Sweet and Sour as suggested by contraption. Add garlic, which seems to be the only missing ingredient (of course there is no lemon juice concentrate in the original version, but it may still be tasty enough). Or if you don't mind egg and bell peppers in your salad dressing, try out the creamy Italian version suggested by TedW.
posted by prenominal at 2:40 PM on February 24, 2011

Wow, thanks for all the answers! I feel dumb for not even thinking of checking with Sysco - there is one near me. I was not familiar with Restaurant Depot, but I looked at their site, and they have one near me too. So I've got two options there. If I come up empty, I'll also try the Sweet & Sour, and the Creamy Italian. Sara C., I may try to make it myself like you suggested, but I'm not sure how well I'd do. :) I'm a good cook, as in, I can follow a recipe and make something tasty. But I'm not much of a chef - I can't really come up with good recipes on my own. Thanks again everyone!
posted by LaurenIpsum at 5:28 AM on February 25, 2011

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