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Sam Scelfo - Gambino's Bakery

November 29, 2004

Arthur Nead
Michael DeMocker

For many south Louisianans, Gambino's Bakery is synonymous with a sinfully rich dessert, the doberge cake, a tall confection constructed of many thin layers of moist cake separated by creamy custard and iced with any number of different frostings. Gambino's doberge cakes have been a tradition at family celebrations and social occasions in New Orleans and around Louisiana for more than half a century.

tulanianfall04_scelfo1"I would say the doberge cake is our most popular item," says Sam Scelfo (A&S '71), president of Gambino's Bakeries and Food Services. Scelfo has been at the helm of Gambino's for 30 years, and has expanded the business from a single storefront retail bakery to a diversified food services corporation.

A native of New Iberia and Abbeville, La., Scelfo attended Tulane on a football scholarship. Tulane football remains important to Scelfo, who has been an active supporter of the university and Tulane athletics.

In 1998, Scelfo's link to Green Wave football became even more personal when his brother, Chris Scelfo, was named the team's head coach.

After he graduated from Tulane, Scelfo earned an MBA from the University of New Orleans and lined up a job with a North Carolina bank. In the meantime, Scelfo had to scramble. "I needed a job--the rent was due."

Another Tulane alumnus introduced Scelfo to Joe Gambino, who was looking for a business manager for his store, Gambino's Bakery on Toledano Street.

Favorite comfort food?

A brownie--that's it, hands down, every time.

tulanianfall04_scelfo2_1Greatest food fear? Sanitation. We always want to make sure it's clean. That's our biggest concern, our top priority. And you obviously want to make sure it's made right every day. Those are the two things--that it's made right each day and that you keep the place clean.

Food idol?

Paul Prudhomme. He created an industry with his blackened redfish. And he's very personally involved day-to-day with his businesses, his restaurant and wholesale spice businesses.

Who would be your dream customer?

Probably a dream customer would be someone who wanted to give us a 10-year contract on an item. That would guarantee us a certain sales level.


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