We are thrilled to announce that our parents, Camilla and Chat Nielsen, second-generation owners of Nielsen-Massey, have been selected for induction into the Specialty Food Association’s Hall of Fame, which “honors individuals whose accomplishments, impact, contributions, innovations and successes within the specialty food industry deserve praise and recognition.”
Chatfield Nielsen, Jr. joined his father at Nielsen-Massey in 1958 and took over as president in the 70’s. At that time, he had the incredible foresight to see the potential for natural foods and focussed Nielsen-Massey on becoming the Pure Vanilla Specialists, producing only natural, pure vanilla products. In the early 80’s, Chat oversaw another important milestone: our first product for the mass retail market (up to this point, we had been strictly working with food manufacturers and some restaurants). Soon after, he exhibited at the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show for the first time. So the story goes, since he hadn’t brought anyone else with him to man the booth, he survived on the meats (and camaraderie) of the sausage company in the next booth over. In 1992, Chat moved the company to our current facility in Waukegan, Illinois and then, unfortunately, passed away later that year.
Camilla Nielsen started working at the company in 1979 and took over management duties after the passing of Chat. Under her leadership, the company made many incredible innovations that would have a great impact on our business as well as the specialty food industry. This includes the creation of several revolutionary culinary products (Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder, Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste) and the opening of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas International, our manufacturing facility in Leeuwarden, Netherlands that improved our ability to cost-effectively distribute our pure vanilla products to Europe. In 2005, Camilla passed the company on to the third generation (Craig Nielsen as CEO, Matt Nielsen as COO and Beth Nielsen would join a year later as Chief Culinary Officer, Director-International) staying on as chairman of the board for several years. In 2009, Camilla helped found The Nielsen-Massey Foundation whose goal is to assist disadvantaged children and adults with education and leadership development, especially in the field of culinary arts.
Chat and Camilla will be honored, along with 47 other specialty food pioneers (many of whom are friends and customers) at a ceremony on Monday, June 27, 2016, 5:00 – 6:30pm conducted at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Special Events Hall, 1D, at New York’s Javits Center.
We couldn’t be more proud of our parents and their legacy. If you are planning to attend the Fancy Food Show, we hope to see you at the event or our booth (#1559).
– Craig, Beth & Matt Nielsen