July 19, 2017

Spotsylvania company featured by Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey wants to know what Fredericksburg locals have been asking for years: "What do we have to do to be adopted by this family?" The Van Cleve family of Spotsylvania County, that is.  

The Van Cleve Seafood Co. has made the "O" List of Oprah's Favorite Things in the magazine's August issue, hitting stands this week. 

The feature of Van Cleve Seafood reads: " 'Oh Miss Mercy,' Gayle exclaimed after sampling this decadent homemade pie—a 200 year-old family recipe—packed with more than a half a pound of blue crab meat held together by a blend of gooey cheese in a flaky crust. The question is what do we have to do to be adopted by this family?"

Owners Shelly Van Cleve and her two daughters, Allie Van Cleve–Cushing and Monica Van Cleve–Talbert, introduced their blue crab pie to local customers in 2000 at their Spotsylvania County restaurant.

The restaurant has since closed and the family has shifted their focus to wholesale efforts. The pie can now be found in hundreds of grocery stores along the East Coast and is featured in gourmet catalogs.

"We are so honored to have been sought out and now featured on Oprah Winfrey's list of favorite things," said Monica Van Cleve–Talbert. "It’s every food entrepreneur's dream. This is the 'Oscar' of the food industry."

The Oprah's Favorite Things list premiered in "O, The Oprah Magazine" in 2002. Winfrey has been sharing her list of favorites items and products since her television show in the 1990's.

July 19, 2017

Gourmet blue crab pie catches Oprah Winfrey’s attention

A Virginia, U.S.A.-based, family-owned gourmet seafood company has earned the praise of popular media figure Oprah Winfrey with its Chesapeake Blue Crab Pie. 

The Van Cleve Seafood Co.’s famous blue crab creation holds a featured spot on the “O” List of Oprah’s Favorite Things in the August issue of “O, The Oprah Magazine,” currently available out on news stands. Van Cleve owners Shelly Van Cleve and her two daughters, Allie Van Cleve-Cushing and Monica Van Cleve-Talbert, have been perfecting the pie’s recipe for more than 30 years, the company said.

The pie, which is inspired by a 200-year-old family recipe, includes blue crabmeat, an assortment of cheeses and coastal seasonings all baked in a flakey, buttery crust.

“Our blue pies are made the exact same way today as they were 200 years ago, by hand and with a lot of love,” Alexandra Van Cleve-Cushing said.

The Virginia’s Finest-awarded pie can now be found in hundreds of grocery stores along the U.S. East Coast, and is often a fixture in gourmet catalogs. The Virginia governor’s mansion also served the pie on its menu two years ago.

“We are so honored to have been sought out and now featured on Oprah Winfrey’s list of favorite things! It’s every food entrepreneur’s dream, this is the “Oscar” of the food industry,” said Monica Van Cleve-Talbert.

The Oprah's Favorite Things list premiered in “O, The Oprah Magazine” in 2002, but Oprah Winfrey herself has been sharing her list of favorite products since the 1990s. 

Madelyn Kearns




March 01, 2017

Women behind Van Cleve Seafood Co.

For the Van Cleves of Spotsylvania County, the family’s favorite dish is a recipe for success.

A Chesapeake blue crab pie recipe, handed down from a friend and former chef at Stratford Hall, has become the centerpiece of the family’s seafood wholesaling business they opened in 2012.

Van Cleve Seafood Co., headquartered in Spotsylvania and run by mother Shelly Van Cleve and daughters Monica Van Cleve-Talbert and Alexandra Cushing, is expanding.

The business recently opened a production facility in Richmond off Brook Road. It is launching six new items, doubling the number of seafood-based frozen food products it sells. The lineup now includes items such as scallop and bacon pie, red crab pies, bacon-wrapped shrimp and scallops. The Van Cleve girls also launched a line of sauces, and the number of supermarkets that stock their products has increased.

This year, the company will have its products used in restaurants for the first time. Two months ago, the Van Cleve Seafood Co. signed a contract for distribution by US Foods, one of the nation’s leading food service distributors that sells to restaurants, hospitals and government institutions.

Their products are also for sale in Giant Food, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods and Safeway supermarkets.

“I get giddy when I see my face in freezer case, and when I see people choose what we made,” Monica Van Cleve-Talbert said.

The road to growing a wholesale business all started when the family’s signature pies became a “Virginia’s Finest” product in 2010, and they were invited to a food show at the Richmond Coliseum. Potential buyers asked about their trucking capacity, shipping costs and how many items could fit on a pallet.

“We had no idea,” Monica Van Cleve-Talbert said.

They came away with an understanding that the way forward was selling to a larger market. They decided to take the plunge into distribution.

Their success is somewhat rare in the seafood business, which Cushing said is overwhelmingly male. Instead of being a hindrance, Cushing said their unique perspective has helped them succeed.

“The Van Cleve girls naturally have thick skin,” she said. “We can always go toe to toe with men. It can be a fun challenge. We’re more stubborn, more motivated.”

Monica Van Cleve-Talbert spends her days on the road and in sales meetings, Cushing handles the daily business of running the company; and Shelly Van Cleve cooks the products and develops new ones.

Many of their seafood suppliers are watermen who have owned their businesses for generations.

“A woman comes in and they think we can’t handle it,” Shelly said. “But we make them meet our quality standards.”

Photo Credit: Peter Cihelka
June 26, 2016

The Van Cleve Seafood Co. Announces GIANT Expansion

The Van Cleve Seafood Co. Announces GIANT Expansion

Virginia-Based Gourmet Seafood Line Debuts in 61 Giant Food Stores

July 19, 2015 - Spotsylvania, VA... The Van Cleve Seafood Co. today announced their launch into 61 premium Giant Food Stores in the Landover division. 

Named Virginia's Finest product, The Van Cleve Seafood Co.'s line of gourmet Chesapeake Blue Crab, Red Crab and Scallop and Bacon Pies will be rolled out in select Giant Food Stores this week. The original crab pie recipe dates back 150 years to the homestead of General Robert E. Lee.

The unpublished recipe was verbally passed down to the Van Cleve family from a descendant of the kitchen staff at Stratford Hall. It's been said that crab pies were a favorite of the Lee's.

"What started as a tradition of the Lee family has become a tradition of ours,"; said Monica Van Cleve,

President, The Van Cleve Seafood Co. "We are excited and honored to share this tradition with the entire mid-Atlantic region through Giant Food Stores."; 

According to the Van Cleves, the seafood pies bring families together for dinner, holidays and special celebrations. They've become a new staple during baby showers, bridal showers, weddings,

Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas brunch. 

“Giant is excited to introduce Van Cleve’s gourmet seafood pies to several of our stores in the Mid-Atlantic region,” said Rick Manzi, director of Meat and Seafood, Giant Food of Landover, Md. Giant has a long history of supporting local business partners and The Van Cleve Seafood Co. has a great reputation for creating quality products, which will now be available to many of our customers.”

The Van Cleve Seafood Co. pies are handmade in small batches along the Chesapeake Bay, using only the finest ingredients. They're flash frozen to retain the highest quality tasting experience and will be offered as a convenient bake and serve item in the seafood coolers.

The launch of The Van Cleve Seafood Co. line into Giant Food Stores will be supported with in-store demonstrations and co-sponsored events throughout the region this summer and fall. 

To learn more, please visit www.vancleveseafood.com
June 26, 2016

Virginia Seafood Firm expands at Whole Foods

The Van Cleve Seafood Co. Announces Whole Foods Market Western Expansion Virginia-Based Gourmet Seafood Line Debuts in Southwestern Region of Whole Foods Markets including Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas.



July 14, 2015

One company wants to bring a generations-old recipe to Walmart, Whole Foods

One company wants to bring a generations-old recipe to Walmart, Whole Foods

Virginia-based Van Cleve Seafood Co. says their Chesapeake crab pies will wow the world. 

Van Cleve Seafood Co's Chesapeake blue crab pie. Photo: Van Cleve Seafood Co.

Virginia seafood supplier Van Cleve Seafood Co. is poised to make its beloved Chesapeake crab pie a household favorite throughout the United States.

In late June, the company — which claims its blue crab and red crab pies were passed down from the family of American Civil War General Robert E. Lee’s  — launched its line of seafood products at upscale retailer Whole Foods, according to local news outlet fredericksburg.com. This month, the company will expand into Giant Food stores, as well.

At Walmart’s 2015 US Manufacturing Summit in Arkansas, held July 7-8, Monica Van Cleve of the all-female, family-run business was on hand to pitch the products to the retail giant. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe spoke with Van Cleve about the products and her hopes to bring them to the world.



July 01, 2015


By Susan Able, Edible DC

The Capital Region’s food artisans were well represented at the Summer Fancy Food show in NYC.

Just closing yesterday afternoon, the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show (SFFS) held June 28-30, had over 2,600 product vendors pitching everything from sriracha flavors, to exotic teas, cheese infused with kale, goat milk caramels and lavender chocolate nuts. Over 22,000 attendees crowded through the Javits Convention Center on the west side of Manhattan to taste, talk and size up the vendors as they searched for new, novel, great tasting and on trend products for their stores or customers. The great news was that all the packaged food samples are collected at the end of the show and given to City Harvest, a NYC gleaning non-profit. 200 volunteers gather up all the specialty foods and fill more than six tractor trailers to give to the hungry.


Read More..

June 25, 2015

The Van Cleve Seafood Company Debuts at Whole Foods Market Mid-Atlantic Stores

The Van Cleve Seafood Company today announced the launch of their line into the Whole Foods Market Mid-Atlantic Region (Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC, Marlton and Princeton, New Jersey).

"We are excited to offer Whole Foods Market customers our famous blue crab pie - named 'Virginia's Finest Item' every year since 2006," says Shelly Van Cleve, Co-Founder, Van Cleve Seafood Company.


June 24, 2015

Egg Shortages are Real — Get the Facts and Learn About Egg Substitutes

The Van Cleve Seafood Co. was excited to launch its gourmet seafood products in 44 Whole Foods stores on the East Coast by Memorial Day. That is, until Egg-gate 2015 struck. The family-owned food business found its plans delayed by egg shortages. Luckily they got their hands on a new egg supplier and moved ahead with their plans.


June 23, 2015

Local company expanding into national supermarket chains

Spotsylvania County-based Van Cleve Seafood Co. officially launched its line of seafood products at Whole Foods this week. The company is also expanding into Giant Food stores this July, marking the first time its products will be available in a local supermarket.