Alfred Ciccotelli, Sr., 86, Founder and Chairman of Cento Fine Foods, died May 6, approximately one month shy of the company’s 50th anniversary, at his home in New Jersey.
A true pioneer of the food industry, Alfred was among the first to import olive oil, 100 percent durum semolina pasta, San Marzano tomatoes, panettone and other assorted Italian foods to the U.S. market. His vision helped lead the way for imported Italian foods, which grew to be the number-one favorite ethnic food among U.S. consumers.
After serving in the Pacific theater during World War II, Alfred returned home to his South Philadelphia neighborhood. What began as a sales job for a local distributor led to a modest $265 investment for a storage bin and now to a company that sells a can of Cento tomatoes every two seconds. The company’s proprietary brands of Cento, Anna, Bellino, Ferrara, La Florentine and Little Gina’s are sold coast to coast.
The impact Alfred Ciccotelli had on the development of the American market for Italian foods is almost impossible to quantify. He not only nurtured and help establish entire food segments, he helped numerous associates get their start in the food business. His legacy extends beyond the brands he launched, the categories he helped to introduce and the businesses he helped, for his family always came first. He was a founder, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend, and he will be deeply missed.