The Bonne Maman wide-mouth jars with their red gingham-print lids are familiar sights in center store jam aisles. Now they’re coming to the deli department, and they’re bringing their fans along with them.
This year at the Summer Fancy Food Show, Bonne Maman introduced Bonne Maman Spread for Cheese in three delicious flavors, all specially created to spread beautifully and to pair perfectly with all types of cheese. Black Cherry, Purple Fig and Quince Spreads for Cheese are all made with simple, high-quality ingredients from a homemade-style recipe.
Bonne Maman also introduced a new flavor in its regular fruit preserves line: Mango Peach, a unique flavor in the preserves category. Like the other fruit preserves in the line, Mango Peach is made with perfect fruit and natural sugars, carefully prepared with traditional expertise, to create the memorable taste of Bonne Maman, which is French for Grandma. Bonne Maman products do not contain high fructose corn syrup and have no additives or preservatives. They’re gluten-free, kosher and are Non-GMO Project Verified.
All Bonne Maman products bring along with them a heritage of quality and a true French appreciation in great cuisine. The company was started just after World War II as a family of fresh fruit wholesalers who’d been exporting walnuts and canned fruit around the world realized that an emerging market for store-bought products with homemade quality was growing up around them. At the time, almost 70 percent of the fruit preserves made in France were being made in someone’s home kitchen, but as women had begun to enter the work force during and after the war, they no longer had time to put up preserves at home.
Taking advantage of this demographic shift, the family behind the Bonne Maman brand made several attempts at producing a fruit spread that met their particular grandma’s high standards. Once they succeeded, they named the brand after her. Today, Bonne Maman is the single best-selling premium brand of fruit preserves in the U.S. and is a key driver of the category growth in the U.S. Bonne Maman is the No. 3 brand in the category and has the highest loyalty rate. Bonne Maman produces 16 flavors of preserves, including the Mango Peach introduced at the show, as well as four jelly flavors: Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Muscat Grape and Redcurrant, and now also Bonne Maman Spread for Cheese.
By Lorrie Baumann
La Pasta’s Radicchio, Parsnip & Apricot Ravioli has won the 2016 sofi Award for Best New Product. Radicchio is sauteed with a little bit of balsamic vinegar to bring out the sweetness of the vegetables and then folded into ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella cheese together with roasted parsnips and dried apricots. The filling is then enclosed in La Pasta’s signature pasta with black pepper pasta stripes.
“We got lucky. It happens,” said Alexis Konownitzine, President of La Pasta, “Our chef Kristen made the product and will be at the Fancy Food Show.”
La Pasta already had several sofi Awards for products including its Marinara Sauce and Beet, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Ravioli. This year’s winner was selected from among 23 finalists in the Best New Product category by the sofi judging panel of culinary experts in a blind tasting. Overall, 28 products were named winners and 100 named finalists from among 3,200 entries this year.
This year’s judging diverged from the methodology used for the past couple of years, in that the judging was completed before the Summer Fancy Food Show and winners were named at the same time as finalists. This process was designed to make the judging more fair and transparent, according to the Specialty Food Association, which owns the sofi Awards program. The products were judged by criteria that awarded 70 percent of the product’s score for taste, which included flavor, appearance, texture and aroma and 30 percent for ingredient quality, which included a consideration of whether any of the product’s ingredients were artificial and whether they were combined in a creative or unexpected way. One winner was chosen in each of the 28 judging categories, and the top 4 percent of the entries in each category were named finalists. No awards were presented this year in classic, foodservice or product line categories, which were part of last year’s contest.
Finalists for the Best New Product award included Dalmatia Sour Cherry Spread from Atalanta Corporation, Jansal Valley Boneless Prosciutto Toscano D.O.P. from Sid Wainer and Son Specialty Produce and Specialty Food, Organic Stoneground Flakes Cereal — Purple Corn from Back to the Roots and Sliced Prosciutto (Domestic) from Creminelli Fine Meats. “Prosciutto is everywhere in the U.S., but we do it differently, using whole-muscle Duroc pork that’s 100 percent vegetarian-fed with no antibiotics ever. We layer it in the tray by hand instead of by machine,” said Kyle Svete, Creminelli Fine Meats’ Director of Sales for National Accounts. “We invest in people, not machines. It’s part of who we are – people, animal, craft…. We have machines to help us do our job, but it’s really about the people. The recyclable tray and the elegant look of it elevates the product and the category.”
“We’re proud of it. We put the ingredients right on the front of the label,” he added. “That’s all there is to it – time, love, pork and sea salt.”
Chocolate-covered Cocomels – 5 Salts from JJ’s Sweets, Gourmet Honey Spread: Salted Honey from Cloister Honey LLC, Wild Boar Salted Star Anise Single Origin Organic Dark Chocolate Bar from Hagensborg Chocolate Ltd., Original Tangerine Sriracha from Just Jan’s Inc., Mr. Hot Stuff Pepper Spread from Steppin’ Out LLC, Clementine Crush Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Enzo Olive Oil Company/P-R Farms, Inc. and Deschutes Brewery® Black Butte Porter Truffle from Moonstruck Chocolate, Co. were also among the finalists for the Best New Product Award.
Other finalists were Pineapple Habanero Caramel from JulieAnn Caramels, Frozen Passion Chia Lassi from Monsieur Singh LLC, Chicken Fat (Schmaltz) Premium Cooking Oil from Fatworks LLC, Avocado Oil Mayo and Licorice Mint Tea from Chosen Foods, Inc., Chili Crunch Bar from Vivra Chocolate, Vegan Stone Ground Hazelnut Butter from Karmalize LLC, Raspberry Amaretto Preserves from Robert Rothschild Farm, Orange Artisan Fruit Cracker from Simple & Crisp, Gluten-Free Coffee Brownie from Savvy Girl Baking Company and Dark Moon from Marin French Cheese Company.
In the remaining categories, Brussizzle Sprouts from Pacific Pickle Works, Inc. was named the best appetizer. The Spice Hunter, Inc.‘s Coriander Lime Global Fusion Rub was named best baking ingredient, baking mix or flavor enhancer, Ginger Hemp Granola from Michele’s Granola LLC was the best in the category for breads, muffins, granola or cereal, and Vermont Creamery‘s Bijou was judged the best cheese. Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche was a finalist for the award both this year and last year.
Money on Honey by Droga Chocolates won the sofi in the chocolate category, and Bittermilk LLC‘s No. 3 Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour won the award in the cold beverage category. Bittermilk was a sofi finalist last year with the same product. Non-GMO Salted Caramelized Fig Spread from King’s Cupboard was named the best condiment, and Sea Salt & Vanilla Farmstead Goat Milk Caramels from Big Picture Farm LLC received the award for the best confection. Big Picture Farm won sofi Awards last year for best new product with its Raspberry Rhubarb Goat Milk Caramels and for best confection with its Goat Milk Chai Caramels. Moon Dance Baking‘s Holly Baking Cookie Brittle Cinnamon & Spice was named in the category for cookies, brownies, cakes or pie.
Barnier Pimento Sauce with Preserved Lemon from FoodMatch Inc. was named best cooking, dipping or finishing sauce. Cranberry Pistachio “The Original” from Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps was named the best cracker. Epicurean Butter‘s Organic Cocoa Coconut Butter was named in the category for best dairy or dairy alternative product. “The reason this is something really new and innovative is that this is organic pasteurized cream, organic coconut oil, organic honey, organic canola oil, organic cocoa powder and Himalayan pink salt. It’s good on crepes, pancakes French toast. We actually just love it on a baguette,” said Janey Hubschman, who co-founded Epicurean Butter with her husband John, who’s the chef and still does all the formulations for the company’s products. “It’s got a lovely mouth feel with the butter and the coconut oil and then the finish of the salt.” The Organic Cocoa Coconut Butter is part of a product line that includes 13 finishing butters, of which two are organic. The company has just installed new equipment in its plant that allows Epicurean Butter to produce single-serve squeeze packs. Each of those has 190 calories for a 1-ounce serving, and Hubschman expects that the single-serve packaging will draw a lot of interest from the producers of home-delivered meal kits.
Bourbon Matured Maple Syrup from BLiS LLC was named the best dessert sauce, topping or syrup. Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate‘s Single Origin Drinking Chocolate 72% Belize, Toledo received the sofi Award for the best hot beverage. Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate was a finalist in the chocolate category last year with its 72% Madagascar, Sambirano bar. The Gelato Fiasco‘s Ripe Mango Sorbetto was named the best ice cream, gelato or frozen treat.
Cioccomiel, a spread made from hazelnuts, cocoa and honey, won the sofi Award for the best jam, preserve, honey or nut butter. It is imported by Marcelli Formaggi LLC.
Fermín Chorizo Ibérico Picante / Fermín Ibérico Pork Dry-Cured Chorizo Sausage Spicy from Fermin USA was named the best meat, pate or seafood.
Stöger Organic Austrian Pumpkin Seed Oil was named the best oil. It is imported by Los Chileros, which won a finalist award last year for the same product.
Gustiamo, Inc.‘s Pianogrillo Sicilian Cherry Tomato Sauce took home the sofi Award for the best pasta sauce, while the best pasta was Pastifico Artigianale Leonardo Carassai, made in Campofilone, Italy, and imported by Bravo International Inc.
Wozz! Kitchen Creations, which won the 2015 sofi Award for best salsa or dip with its Kiwi Lime Salsa Verde takes home the gold in the salad dressing category this year with North African Chermoula Dressing. This year’s award in the salsa or dip category went to American Spoon Foods’ Pumpkin Seed Salsa.
Hickory Smoked Spicy Candied Bacon from Little Red Dot Kitchen LLC won the sofi Award this year in the category for savory snacks. The best sweet snack came from Creative Snacks Co. with its Organic Coconut Bites.
Dinner Tonight Black Bean Tortilla Chili Mix from Backyard Safari Company won the award for best soup, stew, bean or chili. ParmCrisps Mini Aged Parmesan Crisps from Kitchen Table Bakers won the award for the best vegan or gluten-free product. Kitchen Table Bakers was a finalist last year for its Jalapeno Parmesan Crisps. Finally, this year’s best vinegar was Balsamic Nectar from Boulder Flavours.
By Lorrie Baumann
Thirty three years ago, the goal of American Spoon founders Justin Rashid and Larry Forgione was to make the best preserves in America using Michigan fruits. The goal is the same today, Rashid says.
American Spoon is based in Petoskey, Michigan, a summer resort area with a remarkable microclimate that stretches along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, which buffers the extremes of temperature to make a growing season that allows local farmers to grow most of America’s crop of tart cherries as well as Haven peaches and, since the 1920s, a good share of America’s cultivated blueberries.
Rashid spent the summers of his childhood in the area and it was then that he learned to appreciate the local fruits. As he grew up, he learned to forage for wild mushrooms and fruits from the 30,000 acres of state forest lands that surrounded his parents’ summer cabin. “Any excuse to be out there in the woods,” he says. “It was what I loved to do, and I had a passion for it.”
He met Chef Larry Forgione, a pioneer in the farm to table movement when Forgione was looking for sources for wonderful ingredients to use in his restaurant menus and started supplying him with wild mushrooms and fruits. It wasn’t long before Forgione paid him a visit to see for himself where the wonderful produce that Rashid was supplying had originated. Once he saw the bounty available in Michigan, Forgione knew he wanted more of it in his restaurants. “He asked if I could provide fruit preserves for the River Cafe,” Rashid says. “We were both young, you know. I said, ‘I’m sure I could make preserves.’”
The two of them together founded American Spoon, which was incorporated in 1982. The name refers to the spoonability of the preserves, which are more suited to scooping onto bread or a cheese with a spoon rather than spreading them with a knife. Forgione developed the recipes, Rashid sourced the fruit, and together they set up a kitchen equipped with traditional copper kettles and wooden paddles.
Today, American Spoon still makes its preserves in small batches the old-fashioned, labor-intensive way and sells about 85 percent of what the company makes directly to consumers in six retail stores, all located in destination resort towns along Lake Michigan. “We have developed a very significant direct mail and Internet business, so some of the same customers who discover us when they’re on vacation here in the summer become year-round customers at Spoon.com,” Rashid says.
American Spoon draws summer tourists from the small-town sidewalks of the resort towns into its shops with a sampling table where visitors can try everything the company makes. “The wonderful thing about our small towns here is that they’ve been around a long time, so they have small-scale, human-scale, walkable downtowns,” Rashid says. “People taste and they buy, and very often they buy a case. It’s like going to a vineyard and tasting the wine and going away with a case.”
“A company of ours is not supposed to be able to survive based on quality, quantity and price. You have to justify your existence by producing products that spoil people,” he says. “We have one chance, when they open that jar and taste it, to create a relationship. We’re not selling food as fuel. We’re selling it to people who use it to entertain, for gifts, to celebrate.”
After 33 years in business, Rashid says that running American Spoon is still a lot of fun. These days, his son Noah Marshall-Rashid does all the marketing and runs many of the business details while Rashid himself is more involved in the production side of things. “I don’t suppose it would be as much fun if it were not that I have Noah here, who does most of the heavy lifting, so to speak,” he says. “We have a great time meeting our customers in our stores, talking with them about food, sharing recipes with them…. The food business can be very rewarding because everybody eats, and it makes people happy.”
“The core of Marie’s Dreams brand is quality and enjoyment, but our vision is also to offer people something their parents and grandparents got in the 1950’s,” says Pekka Rantajarvi, CEO at A1 Tradehouse Corp.
“When people buy a Marie’s Dreams product, they know they get the real thing,” tells Rantajarvi. “Like in the ’50s, when the things were what they were supposed to be. Those days a scooter was made to last more than three months, and you didn’t need to read the small print to make sure you were not fooled. Today’s consumers face a much harder reality. We want to turn back the clock in a positive way!”
The first product out is Marie’s Dreams Seedless Cloudberry Preserve with 45percent wild cloudberries from the clean Arctic nature of northern Finland. “It’s delicious with ice cream, cheese, whipped cream, waffles!” says Rantajarvi.
“I know somebody can launch a product with much less berries for a better profit, but that’s not what Marie’s Dreams is about. We want to give people the real stuff when they buy a Marie’s Dreams product,” says Rantajarvi. “Marie is a young American woman who wants to enjoy real things. She also wants to share her love for quality with all Americans who want to have real stuff. I encourage everybody to visit www.mariesdreams.com to learn more about Marie and her dreams.”
Marie’s Dreams Seedless Cloudberry Preserve is available at selected specialty stores and quality food groceries starting in October.
By Dave Bernard
When you live abroad and cannot keep up with the demand from friends and family for the interesting food products you ferry home in suitcases each year, it might be time to start your own business. So it was with Colleen Sundlie, who had discovered date syrup while living in the United Arab Emirates with her professor husband and son. Now back in Springfield, Missouri and two and a half years into her business, Date Lady, Sundlie no longer has to seek out the obscure Middle Eastern market to locate a bottle of this nutritious and surprisingly versatile syrup.
After tasting many products and coming to appreciate Middle Eastern “date culture,” where hosts typically serve coffee and dates, and bowls of the fruit are a staple at gyms, hotels and car dealerships, Sundlie put her marketing and business background to work. In addition to the date syrup, Date Lady sells a caramel sauce and a chocolate spread, both sweetened only by dates, as well as packaged dates and a new date balsamic vinegar. The all-natural products are sold nationwide, including at many prominent retailers, such as Murray’s Cheese, Whole Foods and Mom’s Organic Markets, as well as in many smaller specialty food stores. Sundlie reports the company’s sales have roughly doubled in the last year.
According to Sundlie, consumer demand for Date Lady’s flagship date syrup has exploded in recent months. “We have a lot of people that are addicted to it,” she said. “We’ve had people asking us if they can order it by the gallon.” While the company is looking into larger packaging, it recently added convenience with squeeze bottles for its date syrup and caramel sauce. These products previously came in glass jars. “People were just using it more often and asking, ‘How can you make this easier for us?’” said Sundlie.
When it comes to the company’s packaged date offerings, Date Lady’s uniqueness extends to this product line as well. While most dates sold in the United States are Medjools or Deglet Noors, Date Lady sells organic California Barhi and Halawi dates. Sundlie likens these less common dried fruits to pieces of caramel. The company does use Medjool and Deglet Noor dates in its other products.
In addition to climbing retail sales of Date Lady’s date syrup, some manufacturers have begun substituting the 100 percent fruit syrup for other sweeteners, for example in chocolate and fruit and nut bars, smoothies, ice cream and even beer. Interestingly, none of these products are date-flavored. The syrup has the sweetness of maple syrup but carries a more complex flavor, with hints of caramel, toffee and molasses. The date flavor itself is often masked when the syrup is used to sweeten other foods. However, when used alone as a syrup, for example on pancakes, notes of date do come through.
To meet growing demand from consumers and manufacturers, Date Lady recently moved to a new Springfield headquarters and production facility, tripling its capacity. The company benefits from a relative lack of competition within the larger specialty food landscape. While other companies sell whole dates, Date Lady’s syrup, caramel sauce, chocolate spread and date balsamic go virtually unmatched. Even most Middle Eastern products do not compete directly with Date Lady products. Many include added sugar, and, according to Sundlie, some products touted as “all-natural” frequently fall short of the claim.
Always looking to branch out into the gourmet market with new products, Date Lady launched its new date sugar last month and plans to debut additional products later this year. For more information, visit www.ilovedatelady.com.
By David Bernard
When developing a successful specialty food company, usually you work hard to create a product, market that product and build the business. Then you have some fun after success hits. The team at Hampton, Virginia-based Simply Panache, maker of Mango Mango preserve, took the opposite route.
Simply Panache’s three co-owners, Lakesha Brown-Renfro, Nzinga Teule-Hekima and Tanecia Willis started out having quite a bit of fun as corporate and special event planners. While organizing these events, the trio wanted to give guests something special to remember the occasion, and that turned out to be a signature mango preserve. They had their chef add the preserve to everything from mimosas and lemonade to cream cheese dip and ginger shrimp. And the preserve simply took off from there.
“Our event clients always wanted to know, what was in the shrimp, what was in the punch,” said Brown-Renfro, co-owner and Product Executive at Simply Panache. “They started asking if they could buy what was in all of these things we made. We looked at each other and said, ‘We think we have something here.’”
Immediately a hit, the preserve actually landed its co-owners a coveted spot on the television show Shark Tank. While the owners did not end up partnering with the Shark, they did field 15,000 new orders in the 48 hours after the show aired. “We have people who order from all over the world now,” said Brown-Renfro. In the year ending in September, the company sold more than 60,000 jars, a whopping 300 percent increase over the previous year’s sales.
Simply Panache’s Mango Mango preserve is an all-natural, four-ingredient preserve that just two and a half years after its debut is now sold in all Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods stores, and in gourmet and other specialty stores nationwide. When creating the preserve, Brown-Renfro and her colleagues had all-natural and less sugar in mind. Mango Mango contains no preservatives and uses less sugar than most commercially available preserves.
“It’s a very distinctive taste,” said Brown-Renfro. “It’s the blend that does it. You don’t really see commercial preserves with lime juice and vanilla. The blend is what sets it apart from other mango products and other preserves. And with no fillers, you get more of the mango fruit.”
Simply Panache will open a new production facility and bistro in Hampton, early next year. The company has several new products in the works, including two vinaigrettes – one with red wine, olive oil and vinegar and one with mango and Dijon mustard – a mimosa mixer, lemonade and cocktail sauce. If all goes to plan, these products will start rolling out next spring.
For three friends who were happily operating an event planning business, this fruity turn has been a pleasant surprise. “This was an accidental business,” said Brown-Renfro. “But once we started making the preserve, with our event clients requesting it, and then the positive early feedback we got, we thought it would be successful. And we’re hoping that it will be a lot more successful. We’d love for it to be a household product, because it just has so many uses.”
This story was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.
A perfect stocking stuffer, Sarabeth’s Mini Jar Gift Box consists of six 1.5-ounce jars of the most popular, award-winning flavors of Sarabeth’s Legendary Spreadable Fruit. The flavors include orange apricot marmalade, plum cherry, strawberry raspberry, mixed berry, pineapple mango and peach apricot. This neat little item will appeal to gift basket buyers, department stores, gourmet retailers, florists, corporate accounts and any store selling highly regarded branded merchandise. Sarabeth’s Mini Jar Gift Box is an ideal product for a thank you gift, housewarming present, dinner party invitation, a colleague’s birthday or for a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Secretary’s Day remembrance.
Sarabeth tested sales of this product at her own bakery in the Chelsea Market of New York City, and it quickly became one of the fastest moving items in the store. The product is available at a suggested retail price of $17.95.
By Lorrie Baumann
Stonewall Kitchen is showcasing the flavors of maple and bacon in two new products that will put a stamp of excellence on holiday entertaining events. See them in booth #3914 at the Summer Fancy Food Show. Maple Bacon Onion Jam has the sweetness of maple and onions combined with the savory umami of bacon for a flavorful and versatile product. Put it on the cheese tray during the cocktail hour or use it to glaze the dinnertime ham. There’s even a pizza recipe — just use the jam as the base sauce on the crust and then top with cheese. For a super-easy appetizer, pick up some flatbread at the grocery, spread it with this jam and toast it in the oven. That would be fabulous, and there’s no requirement at all that you tell anyone at all how easy that was to pull off.
The other new maple-bacon product is a Maple Bacon Aioli that’s made with canola oil, real bacon bits and pure maple syrup. Try it as a sandwich spread, especially on a BLT, just use a dollop on grilled meats to add some extra flavor, or you could even use it as a dip for fries or vegetable sticks. After tasting it, I can hardly wait to slather it over some chicken pieces, bake that in the oven and serve it to somebody I love.
Stonewall Kitchen is also introducing a second aioli — this one a Cilantro Lime Aioli. Use this one to top fish tacos of other summertime Mexican dishes. Remember that commercial in which the hamster in the plastic ball points out that the dinnertime tacos aren’t going to eat themselves and then the young woman bounces in anticipation? “Oooh, tacos!” Well, that’s the reaction this Cilantro Lime Aioli would get.
The Maple Bacon Onion Jam retails for $7.95, and the aiolis retail for $7.50 for a 10.25-ounce bottle.
Cherchies Specialty Foods is introducing four new products to its line of gourmet foods: Strawberry Hot Pepper Jam, Blackberry Preserves, Lem’n Raspberry Marmalade, and Apple Butter Spread. Cherchies showcases these items in new attractive 10-ounce jars perfect for creating an enticing product display.
Cherchies Specialty Foods has been producing award-winning gourmet foods since 1978 and has a reputation for innovation, excellence in quality and personal-touch customer service.
For more information about Cherchies Specialty Foods, call Christine Hartfield at 800-644-1980 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Award-winning Caramelized Onion Marmalade from The Tracklement Company, one of the U.K.’s most celebrated specialty condiment producers, is now available in the U.S. through online outlets and retail grocery stores.
Made by hand in small batches at Tracklement’s factory in Sherston, a village of 2,000 in Wiltshire, England, Caramelized Onion Marmalade won top “Great Taste” and “Taste of the West” awards in the U.K. in 2012. It has a sweet roasted-onion flavor derived from its main ingredient: white onions that are cooked fro three hours and enriched with redcurrant juice.
In England, Caramelized Onion Marmalade is served alngside grilled or roasted meats and is a popular accompaniment for pates, terrines and cheese. Tracklement’s owner Guy Tullberg serves it melted over sausages and as a topping for any grilled burger. It is also used to enhance gravies or sauces.
The Tracklement Company produced more than 60 tons of Onion Marmalade last year. It is currently available online at Amazon.com through CyberCucina.com and Lobels.com, and at independent retail stores, including Eli’s Manhattan, Formaggio Kitchen, Epicure Market and Home Grown Meats. The suggested U.S. retail price is $7.99 for a 9-ounce jar.
Tracklement’s U.S. distributor is Belgravia Imports of Portsmouth, R.I.