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America’s Best Organics Unveils New Gift Box

Just in time for the holidays, America’s Best Organics, provider of hand-curated, eco-conscious organic gift baskets, has introduced a newly designed, American-made gift box in which to present and ship its all-organic and earth-friendly gift box collections. Produced and printed in a zero waste facility in Denver, CO, the new keepsake gift box design was inspired by an original illustration from Colorado artist Matthue DeYarus.

America’s Best Organics is one of 19 Certified B Corporations participating in the launch of “B the Change,” a new consumer facing campaign from the community of Certified B Corporations, that celebrates and rewards people using business as a force for good. America’s Best Organics included the B the Change red logo on the side of the newly designed gift box as a demonstration of their commitment to raising consumer awareness of products produced by fellow B Corporations.

Additionally, the company unveiled a new look and functionality to its website,, to help ease and expedite the shopper’s experience in ordering and shipping gift box collections to any location in the U.S. New features to the website include a quick buy section on the homepage, updated graphics and images, and messaging to alert shoppers that ground shipping in the US is now included in the list price.

Holiday Baking Tips from Chef Tony Schmidt

shutterstock_157172630We asked Christie Cookies Corporate Chef Tony Schmidt to give us some tips for holiday baking to pass on to Gourmet News readers. Here’s his list of things to remember while you’re baking those holiday cookies and cakes:

1. Use high-quality ingredients whenever possible such as real butter and real vanilla. You’ll be able to taste the difference in your finished product.

2. Follow the recipe order and instructions. If it states to use softened butter, plan ahead to make sure you have softened butter ready.

3. Don’t overbake. Pay attention to the temps and the recommended bake time with every recipe. Even a minute too long in the oven can compromise the quality of the finished product.

4. Have fun. Yes, you might make a mess with the flour and drop an egg or two. It’s worth it!

5. The holiday season is a great time to get the whole family in the kitchen to prepare something. Baking is a great way to get the kids involved and make them a part of the fun and excitement of food!

Christie Cookie Hires Industry Veteran as Corporate Chef/Regional Sales Manager

Tony_Schmidt_ChristieCookiesChristie Cookie has hired Tony Schmidt for a newly created position as the company’s Corporate Chef and Southeast Regional Sales Manager. Schmidt is a 2002 graduate of the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. With almost 10 years of business and chef experience, as well as a degree in Hospitality Management and Masters in Business Administration, Schmidt will assist the company in growing its regional and national presence.

“Tony will play a key role in providing and implementing quality recipes and ideas,” said Jay McKnight, Director of Food Services at Christie Cookie. “His wealth of experience and industry knowledge is invaluable and he will be a crucial part of the decision making process at Christie Cookie. We are thrilled Tony has joined our team.”

Prior to working at Christie Cookie, Schmidt served as a Southeast Corporate Regional Chef with US Foods as well as Culinary Specialist Manager in their Atlanta branch where he managed the brands portfolio, the ten-member product specialist team as well as equipment and supplies buyers. Schmidt began his career as Assistant Sous Chef with Marriott International and continued with Marriott in various culinary and food and beverage leadership roles. As an active chef of the culinary community, Schmidt was a guest chef at the 2010 and 2011 Masters Tournament as well as being a mentor and judge for Georgia high school culinary teams. Schmidt is also very involved in the Atlanta Chapter of the American Culinary Federation and a ten-year supporter of the Hospitality Education foundation of Georgia.

As Corporate Chef, Schmidt’s responsibilities will include developing new recipes, oversight of research and development, and panel testing. In his Southeast Regional Sales Manager role, his focus will include recruiting, hiring, training, managing and motivating foodservice brokers.

Canadian Retailer Sobeys and Jamie Oliver Launch Product Line in Time for the Holiday Season

Just in time for holiday entertaining, Sobeys is launching a new line of products today, developed in collaboration with its partner, Chef Jamie Oliver. The line, labeled Compliments presents: Jamie Oliver Discovers Canada, is the next step on the brand’s better food journey and features Canadian flavors, quality, fresh ingredients and higher welfare meat. A total of 14 items are included in the line ranging from Herby Lemon Flattened Chicken made with Certified Humane chicken and Scrumptious Seafood Pie to Sweet Cherry Focaccia and Banoffee Cakes.

“We worked closely with Jamie to create this delicious new product line, which will make holiday entertaining easier and tastier while maintaining our commitment to better food,” said Gillian Kerr, Vice President, Brand Marketing, Sobeys Inc. “We know how busy Canadians are, especially during the holiday season, but that shouldn’t mean having to sacrifice eating better. The new line offers customers fresh, ready-to-cook solutions that Canadians will be proud to serve.”

The co-branded product line, a year in the making, can be found throughout Sobeys stores in bakery, meat, seafood and deli departments. Additional products are continuing to be developed with a range of new items set to launch for summer. The classic Canadian dishes with a Jamie Oliver twist were tested and tasted multiple times by the celebrity chef and Sobeys’ product development team. Each meat dish, prepared fresh and ready to cook at home, is made with Certified Humane poultry, beef or pork.

“Working with Sobeys on this new line has been a real pleasure. I’m incredibly proud of each and every dish and I really think that, together, we’ve come up with something that Canadians are going to love,” said Jamie Oliver. “Holiday entertaining can seem overwhelming to some, so we thought we’d help out and take away a lot of the hard work by creating a range of super-tasty products that can be served up in next to no time, with brilliant results.”

With 14 items to choose from this holiday season, there’s a taste to please every palate in the new line, including:

– Easy Cookin’ Herby Lemon Flattened Chicken: This Certified Humane chicken has classic roast flavors, including aromatic herbs, garlic and lemon.

– Old-School Holiday Ham: The perfect winter roast, this heat-and-serve boneless ham is brined in festive flavors, smoked over maple wood and comes with a sticky orange and rosemary glaze.

– A Dolce Twist Sweet Cherry Focaccia: Loaded with juicy sweet cherries and sprinkled with Madagascar vanilla and sugar.

– Heart-Warming Apple & Berry Crisp: Made with Nova Scotia apples and berries all cooked into a glorious fruit syrup, with a crunchy oaty top and a hint of thyme

– Simply Incredible Banoffee Cakes: Similar to classic British sticky toffee pudding, this banana cake has an amazing soft texture and a gooey toffee sauce with a hint of salted bourbon.

– A Taste of Tuscany Italian-style Bean Dip: A classic garlic, white bean and balsamic dip is mixed with Greek yogurt and topped with roasted and sundried tomatoes and basil.

The Compliments brand, exclusive to Sobeys, was developed and introduced in 2005 to satisfy the needs of increasingly time-challenged, yet value-conscious consumers. There are currently 3,500 products under the brand.


Sullivan Harbor Farm Adds Two Double-Smoked Salmon Products to its Line

Dave's BaconJust in time for the holidays, Sullivan Harbor Farm Smokehouse has added two double-smoked salmon creations to its line-up of specialty smoked salmon and seafood products. Named after former SHF master smoker David Brooks, Dave’s Bacon is thin hardy strips of double smoked Atlantic salmon brushed with pure Maine maple syrup. Dave’s Omega Delight is aromatic cubes of double smoked salmon soaked in the same delicious syrup. Both are hand-cured and cold-smoked with hickory wood chips and a touch of cherry wood for rich, buttery, smoky flavor.

Dave's Omega Delights“Both Dave’s Bacon and Omega Delight are initially smoked for six hours. The cold smoke doesn’t heat the salmon. Instead, it touches each fillet gently and slowly, melding the flavors,” explains SHF’s master smoker Jamie Young. “After the first smoke, we slice Dave’s Bacon into strips and smother them in 100 percent Maine maple syrup. With the Omega Delight, we take the entire salmon and cut it into inch by inch cubes which are then soaked in maple syrup for several hours. The salmon is smoked for an additional six hours, sealing in all of the incredible flavors.”


SHF has been perfecting its technique and its repertoire of smoked products since 1993, when founder Joel Frantzman first opened a smokehouse in his house in Sullivan, Maine. SHF begins with the perfectly fresh fish raised and harvested responsibly from the cold, clean waters of the Bay of Fundy in the Gulf of Maine. The salmon is delivered to the smokehouse within hours of the harvest: the key to the absolute freshness of SHF smoked fish. It is then hand-cured using sea salt and brown sugar and smoked in small Scottish kilns using old-world techniques.

“Smoked salmon is a great healthy alternative to meat and other proteins,” said Joel Frantzman. “Whether you’re serving Dave’s Bacon as an appetizer or making a gourmet entree with the Omega Delight, the double-smoked flavor is sure to enhance everything from lunch-time snacks to holiday dinners.”

Dave’s Bacon and Omega Delight are available to order at in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas delivery. Visit the site or call 1-800-422-4014 for product quantities and pricing.



Specialty Food Association Accepts 152 New Members

The Specialty Food Association recently announced that 152 companies have been accepted for membership, including makers of ghost chili sea salt, bacon brittle, burrata and lavender martini mocktails. Among the new members are Blis Caviar, Grand Rapids, Mich., maker of flavor-infused wild domestic caviar; Califia Farms, Pasadena, Calif., producer of cold brewed coffee, almond milk and citrus juice, and Caveman Bakery, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., producer of gluten-free cookies.

“These companies represent the craft, care and joy that is fueling today’s specialty food industry,” says Ann Daw, president of the Specialty Food Association. “We look forward to helping them build their business and bring their distinctive foods to a wider market.”

The Association, established in 1952, provides tools, knowledge and connections to help its members build, grow and sustain successful specialty food businesses in an always-evolving marketplace. The not-for-profit association has more than 3,000 members across the United States and abroad.

To become a member, a company must pass a review of its products and business history by the Association’s admissions committee, a panel of food manufacturers, distributors and retailers. The board of directors votes quarterly on the committee’s recommendations.

Membership benefits include the opportunity to exhibit at the Association’s Fancy Food Shows, exclusive access to in-depth industry research, workshops and seminars on best business practices, mentoring, and regional networking events. Only Association members may participate in the sofi™ Awards honoring the year’s outstanding specialty foods, and its Leadership Awards honoring individuals who are making a difference in the industry and beyond.

For the full list of new members, visit

Q & A with Bob’s Red Mill

Matthew Cox is Vice President of Marketing at Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods.

GN: How did Bob’s Red Mill get started? What sets it apart from competitors and makes it unique?

MC: Bob’s journey began in the 1960s after he came across a book about old stone-grinding flour mills, John Goffe’s Mill. This spurred an immediate interest in stone milling. Luckily, he was able to find several sets of millstones from an old North Carolina water-powered flour mill, which helped him and his wife, Charlee, to start their first mill in Redding, Calif.

In 1978 after Bob and Charlee sold their successful Redding, Calif., milling business to their sons, they moved to Oregon City, Ore., to retire. By chance, they stumbled across an abandoned mill in a small town nearby, which got them excited about milling again. In just a few short months, Bob purchased that mill and was able to source old milling equipment that could stone grind flours and cereals for local customers. Bob’s Red Mill was born.

Starting back then and even today, Bob’s Red Mill is built on three principles: trust, honesty and integrity. The company is dedicated to manufacturing natural foods in a natural way, with as little processing as possible and accomplishes this using old-world technology. Centuries before high-speed steel roller mills were introduced, stone grinding was the method used – and it is still utilized today by Bob’s Red Mill. This allows the company to provide natural, nutritious products, that have had nothing added and nothing removed, helping to maintain the whole grain and seed’s inherent nutritional value. The company guarantees quality, every step of the way, and takes great pride in handling all aspects of the production process in-house, starting with processing, washing and inspecting the grain, and ending with the finished quality product shipped to your local retailer. Each product undergoes extensive quality control tests in its in-house laboratories, and its gluten free offerings are segregated from other products and tested in its special gluten free-only ‘clean room facilities.’ The packaging is a great example of its commitment – its clear bags enable consumers see the high quality of each of its products.

GN: What led to the expansion of current production and the new distribution center plans?

MC:The move was driven by the need for additional raw commodity storage space and anticipated production growth over the next five years, as well as to meet the increasing worldwide customer demand.

GN: You are a leader in gluten-free foods. Why is that so crucial to the Bob’s Red Mill company profile?

MC: Even before gluten free was a trend, Bob’s Red Mill was a leader in providing all natural, tested, safe and delicious gluten free foods for more than three decades. Back in the 1980’s shortly after the company started, Bob saw a need for safe, gluten free foods for the gluten intolerant community, and felt a dedication to offer them safe, nourishing, gluten free whole grain foods. So, he began producing gluten free products. The company learned through the years that it takes passion and dedication to make sure its gluten free products are actually gluten free, which has led it to its stringent practices today. All of its gluten free products are made in a dedicated 100 percent gluten free facility, and all gluten free ingredients are batch tested in the company’s quality control laboratory with an R5 ELISA Gluten Assay test. Finished products are also batch tested a final time after packaging to ensure the absence of gluten.

GN: There are a lot more gluten-free purveyors out than when Bob’s got started in 1978. How has the company changed since then and does the proliferation of gluten-free in the public eye help or hurt business?

MC: Since we began offering gluten free products in the mid-80s, our gluten free line has grown to include more than 80 products, including gluten free grains, flours, cake mixes, brownie mix, cookie mixes, pancake mix, pizza crust mix and various bread mixes. Because we have been such a trusted leader in this category, we have seen demand for our gluten free products grow dramatically as more and more people turn to gluten-free diets either for health reasons or personal choice. Much of our growth in recent years can be attributed to the increased demand for safe and delicious gluten free foods.

GN: What can we expect in 2014 from Bob’s Red Mill with this expanded production?

MC: The company has experienced tremendous growth in recent years as more and more people – both gluten free dieters and not – have gone looking for healthy whole grain foods. We certainly expect that trend to continue, and in 2014 our approach will not change. We will continue to provide our customers with an ever-widening array of whole grain and gluten free foods, while also delivering on our commitment to demonstrate to consumers new, easy and delicious ways to enjoy them. A good example is the recent introduction of our Grains of Discovery line of nine ancient grains and seeds – our customers have really responded positively to that. We’ve also just released a Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix. It’s the first of its kind and something our customers have really been clamoring for, so retailers are looking for that to be very popular. We, of course, have a lot more in the works that we will be sharing in the appropriate timeframes.

GN: Anything else you think our readers would like to know about Bob’s Red Mill.

MC: We really want to thank our retail partners for all the support they have given us over the years – we wouldn’t be where we are today without that support. We also encourage our customers to reach out to us about best practices we’ve learned for merchandising our products. For instance, customers who group our products together in a set have seen dramatic increases in sales, so that’s something we are encouraging wherever possible. We really see our customers as partners and are always happy to chat about these types of ideas or to answer any questions they may have. And they are always welcome to come for a visit and a tour of the Mill!

Parker Gives Yao Ming Wines the Nod

The Napa Valley Report in the Wine Advocate was released this month with the exciting inclusion of the 2010 Yao Family Wines: 2010 NAPA CREST (88 Points), 2010 Yao Ming® Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (90 Points) and 2010 Yao Ming® Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (95 Points) by Robert Parker.

In November 2011 Yao Ming announced the establishment of his Napa Valley wine company, Yao Family Wines and today produces three wines: Yao Ming® Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Yao Ming® Family Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and NAPA CREST, a Napa Valley Red Wine Blend. Yao Family Wines sources grapes from prestigious Napa Valleyvineyards with a reputation for excellent fruit and selects individual blocks to blend for flavor and texture, with the goal of creating world-class wines for people to share with family and friends.

Yao Ming recently commented, “We are extremely proud to receive such generous feedback from world-renowned wine critic,Robert Parker. These wines are made with great passion and dedication and it is exciting to be recognized for our efforts.”

Robert Parker had this to say about Yao Family Wines, “The influx of well-known internationals to Napa Valley to produce wine is symbolic in Yao Ming’s efforts. The world-famous Chinese basketball player is making Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and reading his back label message there is a humility and candor that I found refreshing for such a bigger than life personality. I tasted three Yao Family Wines cuvees.

“The least expensive offering is the 2010 Proprietary Red Napa Crest. Made from three Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot), it is a tasty, medium-bodied, richly fruity effort with a healthy dark ruby color, good spice, lots of black currant and incense notes, an attractive roundness, and a sensual, seductive personality. Drink it over the next five to six years.

“The opaque ruby/purple-colored 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits attractive aromas of blueberry and blackberry liqueur, licorice and graphite. Seamlessly put together with ripe tannin, nicely integrated wood, acidity and alcohol, a rich, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, no hard edges and a long finish, this is an impressive wine that should drink well for 10-15+ years.

“The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve possesses an opaque blue/purple color as well as a gorgeous bouquet of spring flowers, red and black fruits and subtle toasty oak. Full-bodied and impeccably made with beautiful texture, length and richness, it can be drunk now, but will stand the test of time for 15 or more years.

“I am aware of all the arguments that major celebrities lending their names to wines is generally a formula for mediocrity, but that is not the case with Yao Ming. These are high class wines. The two Cabernets are actually brilliant, and the Reserve bottling ranks alongside just about anything made in Napa.”

The 2010 vintages from Yao Family Wines are now available on the Yao Family Wines website and will be in select wine shops and restaurants across the U.S. early next year.

Customer Traffic, Basket Size Up at Sprouts

Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc.  today provided preliminary information on certain aspects of its 2013 financial performance through November 17, 2013. For the seven weeks ended November 17, 2013, the company has recorded comparable store sales growth of 13.7 percent, or 22.8 percent on a two-year stacked basis pro forma for the 2012 acquisition of Sunflower Farmers Market. Comparable store sales growth has been driven by continued momentum in customer traffic and basket size.

The results for this seven-week period are not for an entire fiscal period, and there can be no assurance that final results for the 13-week period ended December 29, 2013 will not differ from these results.

Change Up Your Thanksgiving with Blueberries

If orange is the new black, blue is the new red this holiday season. Swap out the cranberries for the all-American Wyman’s wild blueberries on your holiday table. Wyman’s of Maine is one of the largest wild blueberry growers in the US and harvests all the antioxidant-packed, sweet and tart berries on their lush 10,000 acres of land, transporting them from farm to freezer to table. Actually, wild blueberries are one of the few fruits native to the U.S., so why do cranberries get all the cred on Thanksgiving? These smaller and sweeter berries work well in any dish that calls for cranberries.

Another reason to snack on wild blueberries during the holidays is that they keep you heart healthy! New research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows wild blueberries have the potential to improve heart health. Researchers from Germany’s University of Dusseldorf and the United Kingdom’s University of Reading and University of Northumbria concluded that wild blueberries may help blood vessels function better and remain healthier, thus relieving pressure on the heart. And did you know that out of 40 different fruits and vegetables tested, wild blueberries took the blue ribbon for the most antioxidants? Cooking with wild blueberries this holiday season will keep your heart pumping and give you the boost you need to plow through the season.

Here are some recipes from Wyman’s of Maine  to get you started.

Wyman’s Wild Blueberry Sauce


BlueberrySauceMakes 2 1/2 cups


3 cups Wyman’s wild blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cornstarch (for thickening if necessary)


1.    In a large saucepan, heat the wild blueberries, sugar, 1 cup water, orange juice and spices on high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. *If the sauce is too thin, you may add a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water) to thicken.

2.    Add orange zest to the mixture and cool.

By Wyman’s of Maine


Wyman’s Wild Blueberry, Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad


Serves 4 to 6



1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed, 3.5 lbs

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup quinoa

2 cups arugula

2 medium shallots, sliced thin

1 cup Wyman’s Wild Blueberries, thawed

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper



Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar


1.    Set the oven to 350 degrees. On a large baking sheet, spread the squash evenly, toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast 30 minutes or until tender.

2.    Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, cook the quinoa according to package instructions or bring two cups of water to a boil, add quinoa, cover and simmer 10 minutes. When the quinoa is translucent, it is finished.

3.    In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Dress and season to taste.


By Wyman’s of Maine

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