100 Years, 5 Generations
Perona Farms Celebrates a Century
For Immediate Release | June 21, 2017
Perona Farms was a dream come true that went slightly “off the wall” as far as Emil and Angiolina Perona were concerned. Emil’s career began in the kitchen of a London hotel at the age of 14, progressed to vaudeville stages all over the world, and culminated – perhaps in his venture to live the quiet life of a dairy farmer in rural northern New Jersey. In order to supplement the small farm income, they started taking in borders and around that boarding house table, a story began that has lasted 100 years. The boarding house became a restaurant and today a landmark venue for weddings and special events.
The Perona Farms Foundation is hosting an event July 18 at 6 PM to celebrate the 100th anniversary. The charity event at Perona Farms in Andover, NJ will include a tasting reception featuring 40 chefs from across the country, entertainment, a hot air balloon, and fireworks. Items showcasing the past century will be on display. Tickets are available online at peronafarms.com. Funds raised will benefit the James Beard Foundation National Scholars Program for culinary education and other foundation programming.
“We look forward to welcoming so many wonderful chefs and friends from across the country to take part in this celebration and we are excited for the next 100 years,” said Mark Avondoglio, 4th Generation.
The Early Years
As the restaurant grew in the early years, Emil’s brothers owned the famous El Morocco in Manhattan and helped by sending guests to visit Perona Farms for rest and relaxation. Emil’s friends from the entertainment industry spread his fame as an innkeeper and for over a century countless prominent figures have visited Perona Farms.
A listing of notable visitors could go on indefinitely, but among the most famous visitors early visitors were Jimmy Durante, Errol Flynn, Ethel Merman, Peter Lorre, Helen Hayes and Joe DiMaggio. In the years since, the family has welcomed a visit from Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and catered events for Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan.
Local people flocked to Perona Farms, too. Emil and “Mother” Perona’s daughter, Aida, helped as waitress and dishwasher, starting the family tradition of “everyone helps”. Maurice DeBergh, a young man who came to the farm as a guest, filled in and helped, too. Soon, he also became part of the restaurant family — he married Aida in 1932. The Debergh’s daughter, Maureen, and her husband, Victor Avondoglio, continued the family traditions of excellence, creating an atmosphere where fine food and service has been their constant endeavor.
“As long as I can remember, we have had a real family atmosphere and made an effort to personally know each of our guests. Many of those guests over the years became great friends,” said Victor Avondoglio, 3rd generation.
The Perona Farms Food Specialties division started in the 1950s with packaged meals distributed to local supermarkets and specialty stores. In the 1990s the food specialties division continued to innovate and began producing smoked fish products. The smoked Atlantic salmon received the world’s number one rating from Cooks Illustrated Magazine in addition to countless accolades including Food & Wine Magazine. The smoked salmon business was sold in 2008 as the family sharpened their focus on special events and catering.
“We conduct business every day with great pride knowing the tremendous legacy our ancestors left us,” said Tracey Ivaldi, 4th generation.
Today & The Future
Today, the century old traditions remain with a culinary vision focused on local, seasonal ingredients and a commitment to customer service and the community. The family spends countless hours each year supporting community organizations and has recently started a Perona Farms Foundation to better organize their support and charitable giving.
The facilities remain extremely unique and countless couples have found the apple orchard, Perona Lake, ballroom spaces, and the 1930s cattle barn the perfect locations to celebrate weddings. The most recent additions include a hydroponic greenhouse for greens and herbs and hives of honeybees all in a constant effort to remain true to the farming roots that started it all.
Currently the fourth generation, Mark, Wade, Kirk, and Tracey, lead the family business. Two members of the fifth generation, Bryant and Marley, have recently joined the team to carry on the family vision.
“The credit really goes to our outstanding team from the kitchen to the front of the house that has made it possible every step of the way,” said Bryant Avondoglio, 5th generation.
Read the complete Perona Farms history here.
Historic Photos & Video Content Available Upon Request
The Perona Farms Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity.
The estimated fair market value of each ticket purchased is $55.
Therefore, $45 of each ticket purchased is deductible for federal income tax purposes.