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Amboy Spotlight: Perth Amboy C-Town Supermarket Kitchen-Catering Dept.

C-Town Supermarket offers a wide variety of fresh produce

C-Town Supermarket offers a wide variety of fresh produce.

A Shining Example: Iris Benzan-Diaz

By: Carolyn Maxwell and Katherine Massopust

PERTH AMBOY – One of the hidden treasures of Perth Amboy is the Kitchen/Catering Department of C-Town, Maple Street, Perth Amboy. The food, although bought in a supermarket has a home cooked feel that pleases the pickiest customers. Easy on the stomach, the food has just right with traditional flavor and is always moist. People from all over Middlesex County come and enjoy the food at the Kitchen/Catering Department of C-Town Perth Amboy.

There is a wide selection of mouth watering foods for takeout *Photos Courtesy of C-Town Perth Amboy

There is a wide selection of mouth watering foods for takeout
*Photos Courtesy of C-Town Perth Amboy.

Every C-Town is individually owned and operated. The proud owner of C-Town Supermarket Perth Amboy is Iris Benzan-Diaz. The Dominican born entrepreneur has been in the United States since 1977 when she came to study at the Our Lady of Victory Boarding School in Plattsburgh in Upstate New York.

Iris is tenacious in what she wants to do and knows exactly where she is headed and how to achieve it. Upon meeting her the first time, her warm and spirited personality is the first thing you notice. Iris takes pleasure in the fact that she has inspired her children to work hard to achieve their goals. She has done this by making sure that they have seen that her hard work has paid off.

Iris is a perfectionist when it comes to cooking. She tastes everything that is cooked at the Kitchen/Catering Department of C-Town Perth Amboy. “When I use ingredients I make sure that everything is natural with nothing artificial. I always make sure everything is top quality. When you cook in a supermarket it has to be perfect, clean and fresh.”

Iris was taught how to cook by her mother, Miledy. “My mother used all natural ingredients. She even used her own homemade tomato paste. She always cooked the food very slow to keep the flavor.” Iris feels it’s important not to over-spice or over-salt the food. “If a customer wants more salt, they can easily add it,” Iris states.

Iris’ specialty is chicken and pernil (pork), which is prepared with perfection and love. The kitchen also offers desserts such as custards, bread pudding and rice pudding. When asked what’s her favorite food? Iris answers, “I really don’t have a favorite, but the red bean soup has a lot of flavor.” Iris has a special way of preparing the soup which gives it a special taste that she loves. C-Town also has fresh made chicken soup, fish soup and san sanocho, a traditional Spanish soup with different kinds of meat and viandas (tropical vegetables).

She is the proud mother to four children who have all succeeded in their career choice they have pursued. She has a daughter, Kristhina who is in the banking industry, son Anthony who is co-owner of an eatery in New York, another son Diego who is Assistant District Attorney in New York and a daughter Sabrina who operates a Natural Juice Bar next to her father’s C-Town supermarket. Iris loves being a grandmother to Ethan and Lyla.

When catering, every tray is opened and inspected by Iris or her staff to make certain it’s the very best quality. “I don’t prepare anything that I wouldn’t eat myself or give to my kids. The food has to be good for everyone. I keep the quality by tasting. I keep asking myself: “Would I eat this? Would I buy it?””

As the owner of C-Town Perth Amboy it is not unusual to find her helping out wherever needed, even if that entails having to sweep the floors. The supermarket, like her children, is her source of pride and joy. That is shown as soon as you enter C-Town. Iris has worked in several management positions in the retail and banking business but decided that retail was in her blood. Although she had succeeded in the banking and retail fields, her love of Latin Cuisine is what led her to own a supermarket franchise. Along with her ex-husband they were able to own and operate several supermarkets in the Tri-State area and Florida.

On October 9, 2014 she was recognized for her achievements when PAMA (Perth Amboy Merchants Association) honored her as the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year at their annual gala. On a short notice the City of Perth Amboy invited her to participate in the Taste of Perth Amboy which was held on October 16, 2014 at the ZPA. She said that she was taken aback, but decided it would be a perfect opportunity to showcase the delicious foods prepared by her chefs that are available in the store’s takeout deli. It was obvious that Iris was correct when C-Town was chosen as Grand Prize – The People’s Choice Award for Best Food. C-Town also placed second for the Judge’s Award for Best Entrée.

She is proud of the fact that the store is well known for fresh produce, a wide variety of ethnic foods and for those special occasions there is a catering menu that is sure to please any palate.  Cleanliness and customer service is at the top of the list to show the community how much she cares. She realizes that small businesses are vital to the community, especially when it comes to employing residents. An added bonus is that she knows that others appreciate the delicious foods offered at C-Town. She welcomes all to experience what her customers already know and why they continue to come back over and over again. She understands that being the owner of a business, especially in the retail market is not an easy job, but you can tell that with Iris that what she is doing is because it is a labor of love.

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