Creative Staff, Enduring Recipes

Thien Ven joined PCC in 1991, working at a store that no longer existsPCC’s South Everett store. Located in the back of a small shopping center, it struggled with high costs and low sales before closing in 1995. (Some members regrouped and founded the Sno-Isle Food Co-op in downtown Everett the following year, still going strong today.)

Ven moved between several other PCC stores in the years that followedthe Seward Park store (succeeded by Columbia City in 2015), Green Lake, Issaquah, Redmond and now Bellevue. His current title is production specialist, 31 years after starting out as a dishwasher.

Even in his early years, though, Ven was contributing recipes. “In the old days, everyone contributed” to the deli menu, he recalled. Sometimes they’d bring in a favorite from home, or rework a cookbook recipe to meet deli demands, or just experiment and see if their creations were hits. “If it looked good, we’d try it,” he said.

Trudy Bialic, who worked with Ven in Everett, recalled that “Everyone did everything…We would cook, we would clean the freezer, we would clean the case, we would bake, we would make soup, we would cashier.” That said, she added, Ven was often cooking because of his nonstop skills and efficiency, which helped labor costs pencil out and left shoppers delighted with their selections. “He had every dish worked out.”

Some of Ven’s inventions have since dropped off the menu, like a Thai chicken curry soup or a glazed vegetable dish. Others are still among PCC deli favorites.

Ven said he’s never been tempted to teach cooking classes“I have stage fright,” he jokedbut he’s glad to cook at home, and that his recipes remain on the roster.

What’s kept him at PCC all these years?

“I like what I’m doing,” he said.

PCC shoppers appreciate it too, like this sesame capellini Ven created long ago that’s still a consistent top-requested recipe.


Sesame capellini


Get the recipe

Also in this issue

News bites

Sweetener guidelines • New apple variety • Shading salmon streams • Oregon fish and wildlife • Meat labeling terms • Food business incubator • Organic Trade Association • Gluten-free bread research • Salty snack sales • Cashless retail plan • Toxic chemicals ban • Food waste research Export tariffs lifted • Cosmetics chemical ban • Seeds lawsuit • Popular cherry