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.
The transition of Frontier Soups™, a producer of gourmet soup mixes, to the second generation of the family owned business is now complete, the company announced today.
Company founder Trisha Anderson’s sons, Matt and Jon Anderson, have assumed ownership of the company as partners, Trisha Anderson said, while she will remain active in product development for the company, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Financial details of the ownership transfer were not disclosed. Both Jon and Matt Anderson will be at Summer Fancy Food Show Booth 4121 to greet customers and show attendees.
“I’m not sure I could have envisioned this day 30 years ago when I was filling orders by hand at home, but it is so satisfying for business owners to see what they built move into the hands of the next generation,” Trisha Anderson said. “Matt and Jon both have strong business backgrounds and bring the dynamism and initiative of a younger generation to Frontier Soups, which I have every confidence will lead to even greater growth in the future.”
Matt Anderson began his career with Frontier Soups two years ago, and he has since taken over responsibility for business operations, including financial oversight, strategic planning, and production. He brought to the company 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, where he began at Lehman Brothers before joining Goldman Sachs in 2010. Matt’s mother, company founder Trisha Anderson, instilled in him a love of cooking and he is eager to carry-on a second generation of family ownership. Matt is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Jon Anderson joined Frontier Soups in the summer of 2015 and has spent his time over the past year learning the nuts and bolts of the specialty food business while focusing on strategic sales and marketing. Growing up in the Anderson family, soup has played a big part in Jon’s life from a young age, and he has watched the company evolve from selling through local craft markets to national distribution. With over a decade of experience in financial services, working for Credit Suisse and Knight Capital Group, Jon understands how to be successful in a competitive industry. He is a graduate of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
More information about Frontier Soups is available at www.FrontierSoups.com or by calling 1.800.300.7687.
Ariston is introducing new Butter Infused Olive Oil in its never-ending effort to bring top quality healthy items to the market place. Not only is this a great tasting infused olive oil, it also became an instant best seller.
Ariston Butter Infused Olive Oil is made from 100 percent extra virgin olive oil that is sourced from the company’s own farms and from local farmers. Ariston then naturally infused the butter flavor, which is 100 percent vegan, resulting in a healthier alternative to butter. Creamy in flavor and produced in small batches, this product has Ariston quality.
It is perfect for popcorn. Make popcorn healthy again by adding Ariston Butter Infused Olive Oil and salt to the kernels instead of the long list of ingredients commonly found in microwave popcorn.
Adding Ariston Butter Infused Oil to a seafood dish not only makes them delicious introduces more good fat. Ariston Butter Infused adds a pop of flavor bring your taste buds to another level when it’s added to risottos, rice dishes or pasta.
Combining Ariston Butter Infused with Ariston Garlic Infused oil as a marinade for meats will provide the richness and depth of flavor, and Ariston Butter Infused Olive Oil will make steamed vegetables come to life with just a drizzle of the oil and a pinch of salt.
Ariston Specialties will be exhibiting and sampling all of its products in booth #4162 during the Summer Fancy Food Show.
The appeal of Gruyère AOP has always been its great taste. It’s the creamy, floral flavor of Gruyère AOP Classic and the bolder taste and crystalline texture of the more mature Réserve that people love, remember and look for.
This superior flavor can only be found in Gruyère AOP Switzerland – where it is hand-made in 170 small batches from a centuries-old recipe. Its flavor starts with the raw milk of cows local fields, and finishes in local cellars and caves under strict supervision.
The AOP denomination, as well as the association of milk producers, cheese makers, and refiners, protect this flavor and ensure that it maintains consistency.
Le Gruyère AOP Switzerland is 100 percent natural and 100 percent additive free, with 100 percent great taste. It’s naturally free of lactose and gluten, as it has been since it was first produced in 1115 AD.
New for the Summer Fancy Food Show is Rabbit Creek Products‘ new doughnut muffin mix. Taking a riff on classic cider doughnuts, these delicious muffins bring apple-y goodness without the mess of frying doughnuts. A wonderfully enticing treat that can go with breakfast or dinner, think of these with some beautiful pork chops!
Like all things Rabbit Creek, the doughnut muffins can be ordered in a mixed case (12) of like items. Free private labeling is as always offered as well.
For more than 30 years Rabbit Creek Products has been creating the best gourmet dry mixes there are. Still family owned and operated in a bucolic eastern Kansas town, Rabbit Creek is there for the long haul.
Finlandia® has introduced Finlandia Imported Butter in Costco locations in San Diego, California and Phoenix, Arizona. Finlandia Imported Butter brings butter from family-owned farms in Finland to the American table. Its butter is made with non-GMO ingredients according to European standards, and contains no artificial ingredients or added hormones.
“We’re thrilled to introduce our new Finlandia Imported Butter here in the United States,” said Emma Aer, Chief Executive Officer, Finlandia Cheese. “For decades, we have provided foodies with the quality products and finest cheeses to tantalize their taste buds, and we’re confident that our new butter line will not disappoint.”
Finlandia Imported butter is made with milk from cows that are not treated with rBst. The milk is patiently churned at the perfect temperatures for a light creamy and delicious flavor. Finlandia Imported Butter is available in 7-ounce salted and unsalted varieties at select grocery stores and supermarkets nationwide, including major chain stores. The average retail price is $3.49.
Savor sweet health with Pacific Resources International’s new Manuka Honey Salted Caramels. Using only the finest Manuka honey harvested from the pristine New Zealand native forests and solar-evaporated natural sea salt from the clean waters surrounding New Zealand, a classic caramel is reborn for today’s health and taste-conscious consumer. Manuka Honey Caramels are built on a base of organic brown rice syrup, condensed whole milk, organic dried cane syrup, molasses and natural flavors.
For more than a quarter of a century, Pacific Resources International has imported and developed New Zealand’s highest quality products for the U.S. consumer. It was the first to introduce Manuka honey to these shores in 1989, and has since developed America’s largest range of authentic New Zealand Manuka wellness products and everyday energy treats for a healthier lifestyle. Manuka is renowned for its special properties that help with digestive issues and build the body’s defense system.
By Greg Gonzales
Need a quick caffeine boost and a blast of antioxidants? The ready-to-drink Matcha Love can do that. Maybe you prefer non-synthetic caffeine extracted from green coffee beans in fruit juice, along with a dose of vitamins — a company called Frava has you covered. Just like, “there’s an app for that,” beverages aren’t just for hydration any more.
“In general, consumers are getting the picture that empty calories are really causing our health problems in this country,” said Chrissy Weiss, a registered dietitian who serves as Director of Marketing and Communications at Culinary Collective. “There’s a movement. These big companies are seeing a decline in regular soda sales and that’s been going on for a couple of years now. There’s a wave of information and a health movement that’s going on in this country. What we’re seeing today is that there’s this whole other wave of people looking for healthy hydration, something that gives them health benefits.” Some of these beverages include plant waters, low-sugar or natural-sugar juices, non-dairy probiotic drinks like kombucha and ready-to-drink simple beverages, like tea and coffee.
Category growth has opened the doors for new producers and expansion opportunities for larger ones, too. The tea market for instance, has grown by 15 times over since 2009. Loose leaf tea, ready-to-drink teas and cold-press coffee at home have become increasingly popular.
According to Weiss, market success in functional and healthy beverages categories is similar. “People are seeing these beverages like an affordable luxury, like specialty coffee drinks. I think these appeal to a lot of people because they’re willing to do something that makes them feel good and buy a product that makes them feel better. … What people pay for these, even when a little pricier, they seem a little more affordable.”
Growth in better-for-you beverages may be coming at the expense of traditional soft drinks. The last two decades have seen soft drinks taking a hard fall, by more than 25 percent, according to the New York Times — by more than $1 billion, since 2011. On the other hand, healthier beverage categories’ double-digit sales growth is expected to continue for years to come. According to Nielsen reports, functional beverage sales increased by 6.9 percent in 2015 and will grow even more rapidly this year. The same report said that 90 percent of 2015 growth in juice beverages came from new product launches.
By Lorrie Baumann
A finalist for a 2015 sofi Award for its Burnt Sugar and Fennel Shortbread, Lark Fine Foods will be back at the Summer Fancy Food Show this year with Salted Caramel Almond Chocolate Pearl shortbread cookies. This cookie starts with a traditional chocolate chip cookie and kicks the recipe up a notch with Valrhona Chocolate Pearls – little crispy nuggets enrobed in chocolate and mixed into the cookie dough along with crackly bits of salted caramel and almond brittle. “There are noticeable chunks of caramel throughout the cookie,” said Lark Managing Partner Bob Carroll, who describes this as “a chocolate cookie for grownups.” A 5.5-ounce package containing about 10 of the cookies has a suggested retail price of $6, and this new cookie flavor is shipping now.
Lark Fine Foods is also debuting three flavors of its all-natural shortbread cookies in a single-serving size. Each 1.5-ounce package contains two cookies in either Salted Caramel Almond Chocolate Pearl, Salted Rosemary and Coconut Butter varieties. Carroll says the Salted Rosemary cookie makes a great accompaniment for cheese, and all three of the single-serve packs are positioned for sale as snack items. They’re also available for immediate shipment.
Manicaretti Italian Food Importers won a sofi Award in 2015 with Sicilian Pistachio Spread and has fresh victories with four gold awards at the New York International Olive Oil Competition. Manicaretti will have those oils, including Titoni DOP, an organic extra virgin olive oil from Sicily, and Crudo, a bright green oil with strong yellow undertones. “Every year it wins awards, both in the U.S. and in international competitions. It stands out in terms of profile and in terms of story. It’s a very interesting olive oil,” said Rossella Florio, Manicaretti’s Marketing Director. “We have a very nice portfolio of oils from different regions in Italy.”
Manicaretti will also be bringing expansions to the gluten-free pasta line imported from Rustichella d’ Abruzzo, for which Manicaretti is the exclusive importer. The new products include pasta made from buckwheat, green pea and red lentil flours. Each is gluten free and organic. “It’s all about awareness and offering more options that are equally delicious as durum wheat pasta,” Florio said.
Missing from the Summer Fancy Food Show this year will be Boat Street Pickles and Coop’s Microcreamery. Boat Street Pickles’ Pickled Cherries were a finalist in the Best New Product category at the 2015 sofi Award competition, while Coop’s Microcreamery’s Salted Caramel Sauce was a winner in the Dessert Sauces, Toppings and Syrups category. Neither company has a new product to launch this year. Boat Street Pickles’ Pickled Cherries are selling well, and Chef Renee Erickson, the company’s product developer, has been very busy earning a James Beard Award at The Whale Wins in Seattle. Erickson was named the Northwest’s Best Chef by the James Beard Foundation.
Coop’s Microcreamery has pushed product development to the back burner while preparing to move into a new 1,200 square-foot facility, says Marc Cooper, the “Coop” of Coop’s Microcreamery. The new facility doubles the creamery’s production space, and Cooper is hoping that his expanded capacity will help him catch up with an orders backlog.
By Lorrie Baumann
Fifteen years ago, Jeff Martin was a California real estate developer with 100 acres near Silicon Valley zoned for residential use on five-acre lots. Today, he’s the creator of Frantoio Grove, one of the two American olive oils to win Best in Class awards at this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition, and he doesn’t plan to go back to building houses for a living.
Tasting notes for the medium frantoio oil from the United States noted “aromas of fruit, green grass, almond and notes of pear. Taste exhibits abundant fruitiness, green grass, sweetness, bitterness, vigorous pungency and notes of artichoke, with exceptional harmony, a high complexity and a high persistence.” Frantoio Grove oils have previously won gold awards in the 2015 and 2014 NYIOOC and a silver award in the 2013 competition.
Frantoio Grove made only about 4,000 gallons of the oil this year, with most of it destined to be sold by California retailers in the San Francisco Bay area. That market is big enough to use all the olive oil that Martin’s ever going to make from his 30-acre olive grove, which has the potential to produce up to around 100 tons of olives when the 3,500 trees reach full production. The trees are all frantoio olives, an Italian varietal common in Tuscany that makes an oil with markedly more pungency and spice than the the mild, buttery-flavored oils favored by most California producers. That comes from a decision that Martin made way back when he was planning to build houses on that land. Under the existing zoning laws in Santa Clara County, where the grove is located, Martin could have built 20 houses on that land, each on five acres. But he knew that five acres was a lot of land for the Silicon Valley home buyers he was hoping to attract – too much land. So he agreed with the county that he’d group the homes onto smaller lots within 70 acres and dedicate the remaining 30 acres to permanent open space, keeping the overall population density the same.
Then he and his wife Pam had to figure out how to use that 30 acres. Under the open space agreement, agriculture was a permitted use, and the logical move might have been to plant grapes on the property, since Martin’s family had been growing grapes in Yolo and Napa Counties since 1870 and his mother and brother are currently growing grapes in Sonoma County. Experts assured him that the land would work for a vineyard. Martin, thought, though, that California already had enough people growing grapes, and he wanted to do something a little different. The couple decided on olives, and then, still in pursuit of something a little different, they did a lot of tasting of various varietal oils and decided that they liked the Frantoio oil best. “I really like this Frantoio fruit. Most of the oil grown in California is Mission or Arbequina, which make lovely oils. This is a little more pungent and has a different character,” he said. “I knew that if I want to sell this stuff, it has to have distinctiveness in the market. The bad news is that I have to pick everything by hand, so it’s a pretty expensive oil to produce.” He planted his trees in 2005 and got his first harvest of nine tons of fruit in 2011.
For this year’s oil, Martin’s picking crew picked 50 tons of olives, all by hand, in late October and early November of 2015 and delivered it to Frantoio Grove’s on-site olive mill within minutes of picking. The picking crew showed up for work at first light, about 6:30 a.m. at that time of year, to rake the olives from the trees and catch them in nets so they could put the day’s first bin of olives on the mill’s dock at about 7:15. That short time between when the olives are ready to be picked and when they’re crushed for their oil is critical to the quality of the product, Martin said. “It’s critical for me to have the mill ready when my harvest is ready,” he said. “When the fruit is driven up to the mill, it’s in the crusher within minutes. It’s not sitting outside waiting for my turn at somebody else’s mill.”
The other 70 acres in the parcel is still waiting for houses to be built on it, but it’s probably going to be someone else who does that. Martin has moved on. “I used to be a house builder. I don’t feel like a house builder any more,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of energy into this olive grove, and I find it completely satisfying… Even the mundane things like bottling – it’s sort of my mid-life crisis, in a way. It’s kind of a cool industry.”
He’s counting on Americans’ tastes in olive oil to grow beyond the California extra virgins they’re already familiar with. “I think Americans are ready for varietal difference. As a small niche player, there are people who are going to say yes to a spicier frantoio,” he said. “This is an oil to finish with. It’s fine to cook with it, but you might use a less expensive oil to cook, and then when you come off the flame, get a bit of an olive kick with this frantoio.”