By Zach Calvello
Frozen desserts experienced a 28.2 percent increase in sales over the past two years, making this the third-highest category for growth within the larger specialty foods industry. This is according to The State of The Specialty Food Industry, an annual report from the Specialty Food Association. Louise Kramer, Public Relations Director for the Specialty Food Association, attributes this rise in the popularity of frozen desserts to the amount of innovation being displayed by those involved in creating new frozen desserts. “There are many new and interesting products being released in the category of frozen desserts, such as non-dairy desserts, vegetable pops, soy-based products and indulgent desserts,” said Kramer.
Jerry Hancock, founder and CEO of Sub Zero, and Scot Rubin, co-founder of Nitropod, not only share in the benefits of this growth within the larger frozen foods industry, but the pair are also both somewhat responsible for the innovative thinking that is stimulating the trend. This is because both Sub Zero and Nitropod make ice cream using a unique, specialized process that involves freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Along with a small, select group of ice cream vanguards, including Iowa-based Blue Sky Creamery, Washington-based Flash Freeze Dreamery, California-based Smitten Ice Cream, Chicago-based iCream Café and a few others, Sub Zero and Nitropod have been working to transform the world of ice cream as we know it.
The process of flash freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen results in a truly unique product. With a temperature of minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit, liquid nitrogen freezes ice cream mix in less than 15 seconds. Since this flash freezing process happens so quickly, milk molecules stay very small, and ice crystals do not have time to form. This results in the smoothest and creamiest ice cream possible. In addition, the process also preserves more of the natural nutrients in the finished product.
Neither Sub Zero nor Nitropod were the first to use liquid nitrogen to flash freeze ice cream. This honor belongs to culinary pioneer Theodore Gray. “Theodore Gray’s article made the possibilities known. However, our uniqueness lies in our process,” says Hancock. Instead of combining liquid nitrogen and ice cream mix in intervals, Sub Zero combines everything at the same time. This creates what Hancock calls “the lake effect,” allowing Sub Zero to cut each layer of ice cream, one by one, as it freezes.
Nitropod’s Rubin praises flash frozen ice cream for its particularly smooth and creamy consistency. He delivers liquid nitrogen ice cream to his loyal Los Angeles-based customer base in a specialized ice cream truck. Rubin believes liquid nitrogen is an important element that helps him to create a truly premium product, although he argues that it takes a deft touch to ultimately master the frozen dessert. “Liquid Nitrogen is great,” he says. “It makes for smoother and creamier ice cream. But it can’t be the only factor in making great ice cream.” Rubin counts Nitropod’s chef-inspired flavors and ingredients sourced from local artisans as two additional factors compelling his company’s success.
One of the benefits of freezing ice cream on the spot is that each customer has the option of including or excluding every element that makes up the final product. This sort of customization allows ice cream producers to cater individually to each customer’s dietary needs. “It starts with the milk, where we have low-fat, almond and non-dairy choices,” says Hancock. The company even lets customers bring in their own ingredients to add to the mix, making for a fun and individualized ice cream experience.
Rubin looks forward to eventually bringing liquid nitrogen-frozen ice cream to retailers. “Retailing is phase two of [Nitropod’s] plan,” he says. The ice cream entrepreneur thinks he will eventually be able do this without changing his company’s current flash freezing process. “There are those that love to watch the ice cream being made, and then there are those who just love it for the taste,” he says. “Sometimes there is a substantial wait time at Nitropod, so we want to be able to provide for people that just don’t have time for that.”
Still, despite how decadent the final product is, it is the science behind flash frozen ice cream’s production that is often the first thing to draw consumers to sample the product. And it is the science that ultimately inspires the team at Sub Zero to innovate the frozen desserts industry. “Science is the driving force behind our product,” says Hancock.
Click here for more companies who are blazing new trails in frozen desserts.
Kings Food Markets announced the hire of Paul Guarino, local executive chef and wine expert, as the Fine Wine and Spirits Manager in the Kings Ridgewood, N.J. store, which has added more than 600 wines, 250 liquors and a variety of local and craft beers to its offering.
In this role, Guarino will oversee the new Fine Wine and Spirits department, which was added to the Ridgewood location as part of an entire store refresh. The store celebrated the department’s grand opening on Friday, May 2.
“Paul is a great addition to our team,” said Judy Spires, President and CEO of Kings Food Markets. “He is going to make Ridgewood’s new wine and spirits department the ultimate destination for our shoppers, providing them with a unique opportunity to not only purchase their favorite specialty cheeses, ‘top of the catch’ seafood, fresh and organic produce, quality meats – as well as all of Kings’ other gourmet food offerings – but also select combinations of fine wines, spirits and local craft beers to pair with that food. Between the new offerings and Paul’s extensive knowledge, our shoppers in Ridgewood will now have the perfect resource for all their entertaining needs, whether that’s just dinner with the family or party for friends and neighbors.”
With over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Guarino has extensive knowledge to contribute from a diverse background. Guarino owned and managed the Beverage Barn in Northvale, N.J. for 10 years and is also a trained chef, having attended the Culinary Institute of America in 1995. He most recently spent 11 years as General Manager and Executive Chef at the Colonial Inn in Norwood, N.J.
MouCo’s Ashley is at it again! On March 20, Fort Collins, Colo’s favorite ash-covered cheese earned a silver medal at the 30th Biennial World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison, Wis. Previously, the Ashley snagged a blue ribbon in the soft-ripened category at the American Cheese Society Conference both in August 2012 and August 2013.
MouCo Cheese Company is owned and operated by Birgit Halbreiter and Robert Poland in Fort Collins. The pair incorporated their company in November of 1999. Back then, their specialty was Camembert—a soft, buttery cheese with a mild nutty flavor. In the last several years, MouCo has introduced four additional varieties of cheese, including the award-winning Ashley in July of 2012. MouCo regulars can’t get enough of this creamy, mildly sweet cheese with its distinctive vegetable ash rind. Ashley’s sweet undertones are best complemented with a salad of bitter greens, a dollop of pepper jelly, or a glass of dry red wine.
Ashley starts the way all MouCo cheeses start: with fresh, local cow’s milk. The cheese curd is gently moved into forms that give the cheese its shape and size. Before the two-week aging process, a mixture of culture and edible vegetable ash is applied to the cheese to aid the development of Ashley’s special rind characteristics. The vegetable ash rind acts like a natural preservative, keeping the cheese extra creamy and mildly sweet. When it’s ready, this natural-rind cheese will be an ashy color with a slight white finish.
The World Championship Cheese Contest was founded in 1957 and is hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. This year, the event drew over 2,000 entries from 22 different countries; the entries were tasted and scored by 50 judges from all around the world. Ashley earned a silver medal in the open soft-ripened category, but she wasn’t the only one turning heads: MouCo’s ColoRouge, and PepBert both placed in the top ten in their respective categories at this year’s contest.
A new nationwide study from PLMA for the first time casts significant light on the grocery shopping patterns of the Millennials, the 100 million Americans born between 1980 and 2000.
Millennials represent a multi-trillion dollar marketing opportunity. By 2016, they will become the country’s most powerful consumer bloc and, over time, will become the most economically impactful generation in U.S. history, outspending even the Baby Boomer generation. They already account for $1.3 trillion in overall direct annual spending and it is predicted they will buy $60 billion in consumer packaged goods over the next decade. But little is known of their shopping mindset and grocery retailers have generally ignored them.
Millennials like to describe themselves as unique in their attitudes and how they conduct their lives. While that may well be true in terms of their overwhelming use of smart phones, social networks and the internet, the first wide-ranging study of Millennials who identify themselves as primary grocery shoppers for their household reveals that, when it comes to buying food and non-food necessities, value is the key to their purchasing behavior.
According to the PLMA study, Millennials shop for groceries often and widely, and supermarkets are the most popular choice. Lead factors in what they choose to buy include previous experience with the product, their shopping list and coupons. Seven in ten belong to a loyalty program. In choosing a store or product, they seek out affordability, value and lowest price. They are also regular purchasers of store brands, think highly of the products, and give them high marks vs. national brands.
The PLMA study was conducted by Surveylab, a leading online opinion consultant. It consisted of more than sixty questions aimed at determining what moves Millennials. Completing the survey were nearly 1,600 men and women from 18 to 33 years old who identified themselves as the primary grocery shopper for their household.
Further highlights from the study include:
Millennials overwhelmingly see their generation as different from previous ones and are optimistic about their future. But many express resignation about their status. Half say their generation is financially less well off than previous ones and one in five say their life is worse than that of their parents. They expect big changes in the future: Half believe say stores will look nothing like they do now and a third believe many of today’s national brands will no longer be around.
Brand loyalty is not a major pull for Millennials. When a national brand they wish to buy is not available at the shelf, four in ten choose the store brand, one third pick a different national brand and one in eight look elsewhere for the national brand they initially wanted.
Millennials are universally familiar with store brands and buy them regularly. Almost four in ten said they buy store brands frequently, the highest rate offered in the study. Seventy-one percent said value is the main reason they purchase the store brand product as opposed to the national brand. Product quality improvements and a good prior experience will drive their future store brand purchase.
“Millennials have revolutionized the way we communicate,” says Brian Sharoff, PLMA President. “They have created a world of ‘likes’ and ‘friends’ larger than all television audiences combined. But who are they? For those who run supermarkets, drug chains and mass merchandisers, they are still enigmatic. Hopefully, this study will help clarify how they shop and what they want.”
To request a free copy of PLMA’s new consumer research study, “The Millennials Are Coming,” email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hammond’s Candies has taken a legendary fairground and circus treat and made it simple to enjoy anytime. Hammond’s Cotton Candy stays melt-in-your-mouth fresh in the company’s signature, award-winning packaging, making it easy to grab from store shelves. Each package includes three unique, distinct flavors — banana, cherry and blue raspberry – carrying on Hammond’s tradition of applying a modern twist to a nostalgic candy.
“Everyone loves cotton candy and we thought it was about time to make it available without a ticket to the circus,” said Andrew Schuman, Hammond’s President and CEO. “The flavors are rich and fun and it’s all wrapped up in great-looking packages. We think it’s just the right amount of reinvention of a classic.”
A Denver staple since 1920, Hammond’s is renowned for its beautiful, high quality and inventive candies that pay homage to tradition, but wake up taste buds with fun flavors and formulas. Hammond’s Cotton Candy joins a diverse selection of candies that includes the classic Mitchell Sweet (caramel-wrapped marshmallows), award-winners such as the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Chocolate Bar and the company’s signature stunning, hand-pulled lollipops and candy canes. All are available inHammond’s award-winning packaging that showcases the “specialness” of candy. Hammond’s Cotton Candy is packaged in 3-ounce bags (about three paper cones-worth) with a suggested retail price of $1.99 to $2.99.
Hungry for more? Visit Hammond’s in May at the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago to try all of Hammond’s new products including not only cotton candy, but new flavors of brittles and chocolates bars, too. More information is available atwww.hammondscandies.com, or by calling 1-800-CANDY-99 (1-800-226-3999). Follow Hammond’s Candies on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/hammondscandies and now on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/hammondscandies/.
There’s more than just a new location for the 12th edition of the World Tea Expo (#WorldTeaExpo). A new World Tea Awards (#TeaAwards) dinner and ceremony will be held on the historic Queen Mary ship, recognizing some of the best in the global tea industry, May 30 at 7 pm. The Expo’s Best New Products will be revealed, along with a number of community-voted award categories. The evening also features plenty of “red carpet” photo and social media opportunities, tea celebrities and tea infusions prepared by BKON. All of which are among the many highlights of the three-day World Tea Expo, the leading tradeshow and conference focused 100 percent on premium teas and related products, with fresh ideas, new trends and distribution channels. The Expo takes place May 29 – 31 in Long Beach, Calif. at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, and is co-located with the annual Healthy Beverage Expo (#HealthyBevExpo). Details are at WorldTeaExpo.com and HealthyBeverageExpo.com.
“The World Tea Awards is expected to sell out to a room of 300+ tea industry influencers from around the globe,” says George Jage, director of The Beverage Group, a division of F+W Media, organizer of World Tea Expo and Healthy Beverage Expo. “Our maiden World Tea Awards on the Queen Mary will certainly be a night of industry-wide celebration and fun.”
Gail Gastelu, publisher of The Tea House Times, who’s hosting the World Tea Awards along with Jage, says, “The World Tea Awards is a tremendous opportunity to recognize and show appreciation to the industry overall, get dressed up and celebrate what makes our community so special. And it is with great excitement that George and I prepare to host this inaugural event, an enjoyable evening in which we can all celebrate together — infusing tea and tea cocktails and blending in a bit of glamour.”
The evening’s formal seated dinner will be followed by an entertaining World Tea Awards ceremony, culminating in the presentation of the Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award to Devan Shah, the creator and owner of International Tea Importers and Chado Tea Rooms. The Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes and celebrates individuals who have made considerable contributions to the growth, innovation and education of the specialty tea industry throughout their lifetime.
“We’ve been looking to create this event for years, and with our move to Long Beach, the Queen Mary provides the perfect setting for a black-tie affair,” adds Jage. “Our longer term plans are to build the awards around recognizing retailers and businesses on the front lines of the tea revolution. We will expand this significantly in future years, but this first one is not to be missed. I still have people come up to me and proudly say they were at our first expo, and I’m sure this micro-event will attain the same passion as our trade show.”
Finalists of the World Tea Awards
For the 2014 World Tea Awards, thousands of nominations were collected through a survey process. The list of finalists, in each category, is listed below, and all can be found at WorldTeaExpo.com. Only registered delegates of the 2014 World Tea Expo are eligible to vote. Voting instructions will be communicated via email to registered delegates. Voting ends May 19.
A video announcement about the 2014 World Tea Award nominees may be viewed here http://bit.ly/PX9YRx, or search “World Tea Awards” on YouTube.
The former Malpica residence, a 19th century mansion in Manzanares (Ciudad Real, Spain) is to house the world’s first museum dedicated exclusively to one of Spain’s gastronomic treasures: Manchego cheese. According to Ignacio Barco, President of the Manchego Cheese Designation of Origin, and the latest generation in a long dynasty of master cheese-makers, “This initiative started out with the aim of safeguarding the tremendous gastronomic and cultural heritage that this cheese represents. We want to make sure that we never lose the expertise and tradition that make Manchego cheese such a unique and inimitable product. The best way of preserving this heritage is to spread the word so consumers know how to appreciate the real thing and reject any imitations.”
His cheese factory, which was founded at the same time as the Regulating Council in 1840, is one of the leading producers of artisan Manchego cheese and even produces its own milk. It shares this reverence for tradition with all the other cheese factories under the umbrella of the Designation of Origin.
With a production output of over 26 million pounds of cheese per year and growth of 20 percent in the last five, the devotion the D.O. cheese-makers feel for the genuine values of their tradition is quite impressive.
According to Barco, “As an artisan cheese-maker, I’m often saddened by the public’s general ignorance about our product.” This lack of information is even more evident among international consumers. “The Americans, who are real Manchego cheese lovers, are less familiar than Europeans with the Designation of Origin system. For this reason, companies that do not belong to the DO take advantage of the reputation of Manchego cheese to introduce imitations to the U.S. market which have absolutely nothing to do with the genuine article.”
But how do you differentiate an authentic Manchego cheese from a fake? “It’s very simple,” says Barco. “Every cheese certified by the Regulating Council of the DO Manchego Cheese has a double label. Firstly there’s the identifying label on the outside of the cheese, and secondly, there’s an exclusive serial number engraved in the cheese itself; these guarantee that each piece is unique.”
A characteristic flavor that visitors to the world’s first museum devoted exclusively to Manchego cheese will be able to appreciate, not only within the walls of the former Malpica mansion itself but also outside them, in the local taverns and restaurants. Manchego cheese never ceases to delight thanks to its countless culinary facets and uses.
“As the new generation of Manchego cheese-makers, we have the obligation to continue communicating and expressing who we are, what we do, the tradition we represent and the flavor of our cheeses, all of which have given us national and international renown. We need to be out there making sure that our legacy will endure,” Barco says.
Castello® cheese, maker of creatively crafted cheese available at grocery and fine food stores nationwide, will celebrate the art of cheese with its New York City Pop-up Store, open today through July 6 at 462 West Broadway in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood.
Over the next nine weeks, Castello will offer visitors a selection of premium cheeses; interactive tastings; elegant, made-to-order Premium Cheese Layer Cakes for celebrations; mini seminars about entertaining with cheese; experiential evenings centered around cheese; and in-store sculpting demonstrations transforming premium cheese into works of art depicting New York City landmarks. Plus, cheese lovers have the opportunity to win access to an exclusive Castello Pop-up Store grand opening party on May 14 with Chef Michael Symon, James Beard Foundation award-winning chef, restaurateur, television personality and author.
“For more than 120 years, Castello has been the source of the finest creatively crafted cheeses, bringing innovation and tradition to the art of cheese making,” said Susan Burris, Castello Brand Manager. “We pride ourselves in offering traditional regional recipes and our own uniquely crafted cheeses, always made with natural ingredients. This attention to detail comes to life in our Castello New York Pop-up Store, where food lovers can experience the true art of cheese, whether it’s for personal enjoyment, entertaining or life’s many celebrations.”
Win your way to an exclusive epicurean evening
Twenty-five food lovers and one guest will win access to a private party on May 14 to celebrate the store’s grand opening with cheese and wine. Winners will have the chance to meet Symon and will witness the unveiling of a specially commissioned sculpture of the New York City skyline, carved by renowned food artist Jim Victor entirely out of Castello Alps Selection Hirten cheese.
Cheese lovers age 21 and older can enter to win by sharing a photo that shows cheese is a work of art using the hashtag #CastelloArt by May 11 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Winners will be drawn at random and notified on May 12. Full legal rules are available at facebook.com/castellousa.
Ongoing experiences for cheese lovers
From May 2 through July 6, the public is invited to visit the store, which will offer a wide selection of Castello cheeses for sale, including many available only for a limited time in the United States. In addition, store visitors are invited to participate in the following opportunities and activities:
A store that elevates cheese making to an art: Food lovers who visit the Castello New York Pop-up Store will find a variety of items for purchase that celebrate the art of cheese. Varieties include Castello extraordinarily tangy and distinctive Danish Blue cheeses; buttery, nutty and irresistible Havarti cheeses including Creamy, Aged, Light and gourmet flavors; exceptional Alps Selection cheeses crafted in the Alpine tradition; and super-premium Unika collection handcrafted, uniquely styled artisan cheeses. Many items to elevate the enjoyment of cheese are also offered, including flatbreads, fruit pastes, fig spreads, chutneys, jams and jellies, as well as cheese preparation and serving utensils.
To learn more about Castello cheese, find delicious recipes and more, visit castellocheese.com.
Woot Froot is a line of fresh cut peaches and nectarines packed in snack-size bags as well as larger packages that company President Kim Gaarde says has the flavor and texture to provide consumers with a great eating experience. The brand belongs to Fresh Fruit Cuts of Fresno, Calif.
Gaarde’s confidence in the new product is backed up by recognition from the United Fresh produce trade association, which has named Woot Froot as a finalist for its 2014 Best New Fruit Product Award as well as by several years of research and development that involved the evaluation of more than 500 fruit varieties and development of Fresh Fruit Cuts’ proprietary process for packing the fruit to keep its fresh appearance and texture.
With consumers responding positively to convenience driven items including fresh cut fruits and vegetables, and snack items like carrots and apples continuing to grow in popularity, Woot Froot sliced peaches and nectarines have been a positive addition to the fresh-cut snacking category, Gaarde said. “It has been a whirlwind of activity and opportunity here; we are very excited to see these products become successful in market.”
After the success of last year’s production, the company was able to make recent equipment upgrades within their facilities, allowing them to add additional SKUs and pack sizes. Woot Froot will now be offered in 3-ounce bags, five-count multipack clamshells, 14-ounce bags, and 10-ounce, 20-ounce and 2-pound trays, and is scheduled to hit retail stores starting May 15. For more information on fresh cut peaches and nectarines, visit www.wootfroot.com or contact Fresh Fruit Cuts at email@example.com. United Fresh will name the award winners in June.
The second edition of the SPICES Poster, a 24-inch x 36-inch full-color poster illustrating 189 spices, herbs, capsicums and seeds, is now available through MondoFood.com. Designed by Chef and Spice Master Tim Ziegler and Tea King Brian Keating, the “SPICES Poster” is used in restaurant kitchens and culinary schools around the world and now available to the general public.
An ideal gift for everybody from beginner cooks to top chefs, the “SPICES Poster” is both an excellent reference tool and a colorful decorative piece that will liven up any kitchen. The poster beautifully depicts an international array of spices, offering descriptions, flavor profiles, recipe applications and countries of origin for each one.
“Brian and I developed this poster to give professional chefs, gourmands and home cooks a worthwhile resource on these wonderful ingredients,” says Ziegler. “Whether you’re trying to perfect your pasta sauce or trying to make an Indian curry for the first time, you can refer to the SPICES Poster for inspiration in creating new flavor medleys. We think it’s a great learning resource and, thanks to the photography of Lois Ellen-Frank, a beautiful art piece as well.”
The “SPICES Poster” retails for $27.99 at MondoFoods.com/spiceposter, but Gourmet News readers can receive 15 percent off by using the discount code “condiment.”
Denver-based Chef Tim Ziegler (“Chef Zieg”) is the Chef Behind the Chefs. For more than 25 years, Chef Zieg has immersed himself in the world of spices and, as a result, is now the go-to expert among restaurant chefs seeking proprietary flavor blends. Chef Zieg is also Spice Master & Blender for Italco Food Products’ Gran Cucina™ Spice Division.
For more background on how celebrity chefs are experimenting with spices, see the story here.