Scott and Rachel Blackman Frank with their son, Sterling Harrison Frank (photo courtesy of Rachel Blackman Frank)
When Scott Frank died on December 1 at age 48 after a valiant fight against esophageal cancer, the specialty food world lost a beloved colleague, mentor, and friend. Frank spent his career in the industry; for the last eight years he was vice president of sales and marketing at Rustic Bakery, one of at least two companies he elevated from a “mom-and-pop” business to a national brand, according to his close friend David Yourd. The men met just after Frank began working for Creminelli Fine Meats, “when they were making salamis in Caputo’s basement,” says Yourd, now a partner at North Carolina’s Lady Edison Pork. “He was the salesperson who launched the brand from inception. I had a distribution company in Chicago, and we were just starting out into specialty. I called Scott at the number [I found] in the back of culture. Like his name, he was very frank, but he agreed to sell me raw sausage, and I kept pestering him. He turned into one of our bigger accounts.”
Frank took Yourd under his wing and introduced him to new producers and customers. The two stayed in touch as their careers changed, and Yourd realized over the years that he was not alone. “I always called Scott my mentor,” he says. “He was the one people turned to for advice, for contacts. Everyone felt they were the special one that he took under his wing when there were probably hundreds of us.”
Karrie Kimble, vice president of sales at New York City-based importer Forever Cheese, also recalls Frank’s ability to make everyone in his large circle feel like theirs was a unique relationship. “Scott was my mentor and best friend in the cheese and specialty food industry,” she says. “There are many of us who would say this exact thing. He had this way of investing in us all that built us up. Rarely were we Scott’s customers or employees looking for guidance. We were simply his friends, and he was always there to help us grow and move forward in our businesses and careers.”
By all accounts kind and giving, Frank was also known for his no-nonsense approach. “The thing with Scott was that it was real,” says Yourd. “He had a very frank and blunt personality; he didn’t bullshit with you. He would tell you what it really was instead of what you wanted to hear. It made him very genuine.”
Frank will be remembered for his “immense impact on both my personal and professional life,” says his brother, BJ, national sales director for Laura Chenel, Marin French Cheese, St. Benoit Creamery, and Rians. “My brother Scott (affectionately known as Scooter to family and friends alike) was a larger-than-life figure within the specialty food industry. Scooter was passionate about his work, but more importantly he loved the people he worked with. In addition to me, Scott graciously mentored so many people within our industry. He was never too busy to share his many years of knowledge, experience. and connections. I know I speak for many when I say, the specialty food world lost one of the most remarkably talented and generous people in the industry. Scooter may no longer be with us, but his legacy will live on!”
On December 5, Frank’s family and friends celebrated his life at a memorial service in New Orleans, the city he embraced after moving there in 2010. “He loved living in New Orleans and never missed a Mardi Gras parade or the opportunity to try out a hot new restaurant,” his obituary reads. Donations may be made in his honor to Café Reconcile, an acclaimed soul food destination that supports the city’s at-risk youth.