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LONG BEACH, CA -- The Fresh Produce & Floral Council introduced its new slate of officers, including Chairman Patty Knoll of Temkin International, at its annual dinner dance held Saturday night, Jan. 30, at the Westin Long Beach, here. This marked the first time the event was held at this venue.

The dinner dance, which drew a crowd of about 500 produce and floral professionals, had a "Casablanca" theme, featuring a Humphrey Bogart lookalike along with a cigar bar. Many of the men in attendance wore Bogartesque white dinner jackets, and a few even wore a traditional Moroccan fez.

Debi Duffin of Litehouse Inc., who chaired the 2010 FPFC dinner dance committee, called it a "great night," adding, "You never know how people are going to react when you change the venue, but I think we found the perfect location."

Although the 2010 officers and the new board of directors officially took over Jan. 1, the council utilizes the dinner dance to pass the torch to the incoming leaders. Hence, 2009 Chairman of the Board Ken Ewalt, vice president and general manager of Ready Pac Produce Inc. in Irwindale, CA, began the festivities before passing the baton in the form of the emcee duties to the council's new chairman, who is Temkin's sales manager for produce and floral.

Ms. Knoll worked in the retail end of the floral business for more than 15 years before switching to the wholesale sector in 2002. She joined Temkin, which specializes in floral and produce packaging, in 2004. Temkin is based in Utah, but Ms. Knoll works from California and has been a member of the council's volunteer force for many years.

Joining her on the FPFC executive committee are Mr. Ewalt as the immediate past chairman; Jeff Miller of Westlake Produce, who is the 2010 chairman- elect; Rick Cruz of Vons/A Safeway Co., who is treasurer; Liane Mast of Stater Bros. Markets, who is the past chairman representative; and Harland Heath of Heath & Lejeune, who remains as honorary past chairman representative.

Mr. Heath was a member of the council's first board of directors 45 years ago and served as chairman during the 1960s. He is also the council's unofficial historian. Carissa Mace will continue to serve as chief staff officer and president of the council.

The balance of the FPFC board of directors are Mark Carroll of Gelson's/Mayfair Markets, Mike Casazza of Apio, Greg Corrigan of Raley's Supermarkets, Dan DeLaRosa of Ralphs Grocery Co., Alice Grazziani of Bristol Farms, Kent Kuwata of Smart & Final Corp., Wes Liefer of Pura Vida Farms, Brad Martin of Perimeter Sales & Merchandising, Mike O'Leary of Boskovich Farms, Marvin Quebec of Quebec Distributing Co., Tracy Ramirez of Ralphs Grocery Co., Roger Schroeder of Stater Bros. Markets and Rich Van Valkenburg of Deminski, Van Valkenburg & Associates.

During the dinner dance, the council also recognize four retiring directors: Raul Gallegos of Bristol Farms, Vince Choate of Hollandia Produce, Debi Duffin of Litehouse Inc. and Neil Swanson of Acosta Sales & Marketing.