A Taste Of Portugal
Celebrating Canada's 150th with stories of family businesses supplying us with food and memories from home.
By Shelley Boettcher
When asked if he started early in the family business, Dani Cardoso just laughs. Indeed, he says, from the moment he was born, hanging out at ABC Cork — the company created by his parents in 1972 — was just a way of life.
|Cork Suppliers in Portugal|
Both he and his sister Monica Cardoso
“We grew up in the business, my sister and I,” says Dani with a laugh. “There were no PD (professional development) days, no summer holidays. There was work. We’d go to Portugal on vacation, but we’d be stuck in a car and visiting factories all day.”
These days, Dani is the co-owner and manager of ABC Cork, Fontana wine juice
And ABC Cork also offers a range of products—coffee, olive oil, pepper pastes, hot sauces, even delicious pastel de nata custard tarts — under the Taste of
“People just want a taste of home,” says Dani. “And I want the next generation in Canada to still be able to get a taste of Portuguese food.”
Dani knows what he’s talking about. He was born and raised in Canada but his father, Manuel Cardoso, immigrated to Canada from Portugal in 1963. Life in the new country wasn’t easy and, like so many new immigrants, he worked at a variety of odd jobs: picking worms (yes, worms), picking tobacco,
After a couple of years of struggling, he got his first big break, getting hired at a Ford automotive plant that had recently opened in Canada. “He was one of the first employees, worker #44 or something like that,” Dani recalls. “He got lucky, finally, a good job.”
Shortly after that, he returned to Portugal on vacation and met his sweetheart Leonor. They married and, six months later, she followed him to Canada.
Leonor was born and raised in Fatima, north of Lisbon. Fatima is renowned for its strong Roman Catholic community––the region where the Virgin Mary was reported to have been seen by three young shepherd children in the early 1900s.
“A lot of the Portuguese guys my dad was working with, they’d say, ‘Can you get me a crucifix or a Madonna from there?’” Dani recalls.
Dani’s father would call their family in Fatima and get them to mail whatever was needed: bundles of crucifixes, ornaments and other memories of home. By 1972, his
|A few years ago, the family decided to split the business into two separate companies. Monica, his sister, now operates Portugal Imports, a company that brings in fashion accessories, dishes, religious items and those famous ceramic Portuguese roosters, while Dani manages the team at ABC Cork.
|First Warehouse, Portuguese Imports|
Quincy Medeiros is part of that team. He started as a
But they work hard, too. Dani’s parents, Leonor and Manuel still work almost every day, including trade shows where they can share their stories with others.
And even when Dani’s not in the office, he’s often thinking of what’s next. A chef by training, he says he loves to help develop new products — a new sauce, perhaps, that his team in Portugal can then bottle and prepare for sale in Canada.
And he also likes to make wine from ABC Cork’s popular Fontana kits. “I have over 1,400 bottles in my cellar now,” he says.
|New ABC Cork Warehouse|
A chilled Pinot Grigio or a bottle of Port with friends are his
These days, Dani’s little girl, now three, is following in his footsteps at the family business. She recently spent some time at the warehouse, “helping” her dad with his work and