Get Adobe Flash player

Viola Imports: Authentic Foods, Uncompromising Quality

ViolaImports-OVSViola Imports takes pride in providing a selection of top quality extra virgin olive oils representing three of the most important olive oil producing regions: Tuscany, Puglia and Sicily. These olive oils are a true representation of the local fruit and the various characteristics of each region. All are from award-winning producers.

From Puglia, The De Carlo family has a long history of olive cultivation and olive oil production, dating back to the year 1600. Torre di Mossa was awarded 2013 Best Olive Oil in the world by Flos Olei. From the magnificent countryside of Tuscany, Giachi Duomo IGP was awarded “one of the world’s best extra virgin olive oils for 2013” by the New York International Olive Oil Competition. The company’s most recent addition is Frantoi Cutrera from Sicily, where the family carries on the profession with the “true love and dedication.” Also available are Primo, D.O.P., and monocultivars, Nocellara and Biancollilla.

For more information, contact Viola Imports at 847.690.0790, or visit www.violaimports.com.

Is the Gourmet Cupcake Dead? Retailers say no—or at least not yet

By Jazmine Woodberry

Once billed as “the favorite greedy treat of the me generation,” the gourmet cupcake has risen and fallen with the tide on a 10-year journey, where profits have often rocketed into the stratosphere before falling victim to economic woes. With gourmet cupcakeries now in shopping centers across the country and with cooking competitions popping up on television devoted entirely the tasty treats, it is safe to say the American market has experienced quite a love affair with these individualized desserts over the past decade.

Since Magnolia Bakery suddenly rose to national prominence after the company received a guest spot on “Sex And The City,” demand for gourmet cupcakes has risen. However, today, many are indicating a waning public interest in the novelty, pointing out the industry’s recently dipping profit margins. Crumbs, the only publicly traded small cupcake bakery, best exemplifies this trend, as it has taken a major hit, with its stock price dropping from more than $13 to less than $1.50 per share in just two years.

With the future of the commercial cupcake market in jeopardy, companies are diversifying their product offerings in an attempt to build a sustainable business plan moving forward.

For Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies and Cupcakes, cupcakes have become only part of the business model, albeit a part for which they still feel a demand.

“We still have a good demand,” said Debbie Smith, Vanilla Bean’s co-founder and Creative Chef. “Cupcakes have been around forever. But do I think that it’s going to last forever? My prediction is no, because I do think it’s just a trend.”

Debbie Smith and fellow Vanilla Bean co-founder Sandra Wharton first came together during culinary school. In a meeting of the minds, they realized that together they could form a company and started Vanilla Bean, LLC. Today, the company equates cupcakes with art, refusing to simply put fondant on a small cake and ship it out the door. The company is committed to producing the best products they can make.

Crumbs is following a similar path in maintaining their commitment to the gourmet cupcake while at the same time working to diversify its offerings and stay ahead of the curve. Through this strategy, Crumbs hopes it can beat what could be the steady decline of the gourmet cupcakery. In particular, Crumbs is seeking success by focusing on its lunchtime offerings, such as Burke and the Box gourmet sandwiches, offered through a partnership with heralded Chef David Burke.

“Consistent with our goal of complementing our already famous assortment of gourmet cupcakes with a choice of high quality and innovative lunchtime alternatives, we are thrilled that Chef Burke will be launching an assortment of gourmet sandwiches and salads for the ‘David Burke & Crumbs’ program,” said Julian R. Geiger, President and Chief Executive Officer at Crumbs Bake Shop, Inc., in a media release.

Today, many in the specialty baked goods industry are hard at work, attempting to predict what will be the “next cupcake.” One possible candidate is the “cronut,” a distinct cross between a croissant and a doughnut that has people talking. From the New York Times’ analysis of the evolution of the croissant to the Associated Press’ recent study of the cronut craze, this newly developed sweet treat is undoubtedly hot. The Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, which offers cronuts, reportedly has lines for hours outside its shops and is taking pre-orders up to two weeks out.

From a commercial standpoint, the cronut has both perks and drawbacks. A positive, cronuts, unlike cupcakes, cannot be made at home. Thus, hungry dessert seekers will have to get their cronut fix by visiting a bakery. However, limited production, a short six-hour shelf life and a specific, perhaps limited target audience might limit the accessibility of the treat. In addition, those seeking gluten free and dairy free desserts are unable to get in on the crazy, as of yet, further limiting the consumer base for the product.

The team at The Invisible Chef, which sells all-natural baking mixes for cupcakes and various breakfast and bakery items, are trying to blend the bakery experience with the home environment by offering gourmet cupcake mixes for those budget-conscious bakers.

“I think selling mixes for cupcakes helps our consumer prepare ‘bakery worthy’ cupcakes at home, so they feel they are serving the same quality items they could purchase, but with their own twist,” said The Invisible Chef Owner Jill McCauley. “Consumers want to be gourmet savvy at home, and like being able to say they made the cupcakes themselves.”

As for the team at Vanilla Bean, it is the breadth of options the company provides, not just the company’s cupcake business, that is propelling them forward. In fact, it was Vanilla Bean’s cookies rather than its cupcakes that recently made an appearance in gift baskets at the most recent Emmy’s telecast.

“Our original goal was always cookies,” Smith said. “Cookies have been around forever and always will be.” As for the cupcake trend, Smith said she can not with certainty say the same thing.

Dessert Mixes Make Holiday Entertaining Easy

Two of the most recent additions to Robert Rothschild Farm’s line of baking mixes, Classic Shortbread Cookie Mix and Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, are simply delicious on their own, or they pair perfectly with many of the company’s other gourmet products. The Classic Shortbread Cookies can be topped with any of the company’s preserves, Pumpkin Curd or Buttery Cookie Caramel Sauce. The Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies are sensational topped with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Sauce or Peppermint Candy Cane Dip for a delightful holiday dessert.

For more information about the Robert Rothschild Farm’s gourmet baking mixes, call 800.356.8933, email info@robertrothschild.com or visit the company online at www.robertrothschild.com.

Specialty food creator Stonewall Kitchen is thinking peppermint—delicious peppermint baking mixes that are perfect for the holidays and wintertime enjoyment. The Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake Mix gives cupcake fans of all ages a wonderful combination of a rich, dark chocolate cupcake covered in sweet peppermint frosting that’s loaded with bits of peppermint candy. And the Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookie Mix makes out-of-this-world, chewy, deep chocolate cookies with the chill of peppermint flavor.

In addition to chocolate peppermint baking mixes, Stonewall Kitchen also carries three additional chocolate peppermint treats, including Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Ideal after shoveling the driveway or building a snowman, this creamy and rich cocoa delivers a luscious combination of hot chocolate with a cool whisper of peppermint. For an ultimate chocolate peppermint dessert, look no further than Stonewall Kitchen’s Chocolate Peppermint Sauce. Served warm and spooned over ice cream, this smooth, rich sauce takes desserts to a whole new decadent level. Finally, for adults, there is the Chocolate Peppermint Martini mixer that can add a fun and delicious element to holiday get-togethers. Simply add your favorite libation, shake and serve.

With so many tasty chocolate peppermint options, Stonewall Kitchen is making it easy to start new holiday traditions. For more information, visit www.stonewallkitchen.com. or call 888.326.5678.

All of the products in Among Friends’ line of six dessert baking mixes are made with whole grain ingredients, including spelt flour, flax seed and almond meal. These tasty and good-for-you ingredients are combined with sweet additions like coconut, chocolate chips, cranberries and raisins.

Four of Among Friends’ mixes are gluten-free, including an oat-based fruit crisp topping mix and three cookie mixes: molasses ginger, chocolate cranberry and double chocolate. The product line is rounded out by spelt oatmeal raisin and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mixes. All of Among Friends’ mixes are made with non-GMO ingredients.

Among Friends was created by two friends and mothers, Suzie Miller and Lizann Anderson, who founded the company in 2006. They saw a need for nutritionally sound yet delicious baked goods, delivered in an easy-to-make way for busy families. Staying true to this mission, the cookie mixes require less than 10 minutes to bake. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Among Friends produces handcrafted batches of their baking mixes in a 10,000-square-foot facility.

 

Alcala Farms Flavor-Infused Cottonseed Oils

 

1-AcalaFILL-OVSFavored for their purity, lightweight body, culinary performance and intense flavor profiles, Acala Farms Flavor-Infused Cottonseed Oils are heart-healthy, rich in antioxidants and contain zero trans fat and cholesterol. The oils offer flavor intensity that works and plays well with others, enhances but does not overpower and never leaves a base-oil residue. In short, the flavor you ask for is the flavor you get—pure and simple.

 

Acala Farms’ oils are intended for experimenting, for discovery, for creating great food and having fun doing it. Use them to fry, stir-fry, sauté and deep fry. They will not burn, scorch or disappear in the pan. Pop popcorn in your favorite flavor. Use it with steamed veggies and pasta. Or try it as a base ingredient in salad dressings, soups, salsas and guacamole. Let your imagination be your guide.

 

For more information on Acala Farms Flavor-Infused Cottonseed Oil, visit www.acala-farms.com.

 

Stöger Seed Oils: A Family Tradition Becomes an Award Winning Delicacy

By Hannah Hollins

 

StogerOils-SBTwenty years ago, Marietta DeAngelo was an American exchange student living on the Stöger family farm in Austria, where the family grew pumpkins and pressed the seeds into oil. DeAngelo quickly learned that pumpkin seed oil was a much-loved condiment. “It went over everything,” she said. “On scrambled eggs in the morning, with bread and meat for lunch, drizzled in soup for dinner! For dessert, they ate vanilla ice cream with pumpkin seed oil.” When DeAngelo returned with her husband and children to visit the Stöger family farm in 2009, family members were still eating pumpkin seed oil with all their meals.

The first bottles of Stöger pumpkin seed oil to arrive in the United States came in DeAngelo’s suitcase. “We sent it away for analytical testing, and the results showed that pumpkin seed oils had the benefits Omega 3, 6, and 9,” she said.

After she introduced the product to local stores, retailers immediately began demanding bottles of it for their shelves. For the 2009 holiday season, DeAngelo ordered 216 bottles and sold them locally and to grocery stores in Manhattan. “In the beginning, I was cold calling people,” said DeAngelo. “I’d send a bottle, and they’d buy a case!”

At the 2012 Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., Stöger Oils’ booth backed up to the Los Chileros booth. When Marietta and her husband Alan DeAngelo crossed paths with Ian Johnson and Chuck Waghorne of Los Chileros, they found that they were instantly compatible. “Los Chileros first advised us to change the bottle and the label and pick new flavors,” said DeAngelo. “We went with chile, tomato and cherry to go along with the original pumpkin seed oil.” Los Chileros served as an important mentor to Stöger Seed Oils, as the company grew into a larger company. The chile product company provided Stöger with valuable marketing resources, knowledge and distribution channels.

The new Stöger Seed Oils relaunched with a refreshed look and product selection at the 2013 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. The company entered into the sofi Awards judging under Los Chileros’ name. Stöger’s cherry seed oil won a sofi Gold Award for Outstanding Oil, and all four products were nominated in the Outstanding Product Line category. The wonderful reception at the Fancy Food Show brought Stöger Seed Oils into a new level of success. The company has seen a 192 percent increase in sales since January, and Stöger Oils can now be found at over 200 Whole Foods stores. As of this month, the products are also available at Williams-Sonoma.

Still, DeAngelo does not attribute Stöger Seed Oils’ success solely to the quality of the product, but rather she says that it is the teamwork and passion behind the oils that continues to move the company forward. “After the Fancy Food Show, people said we won for ‘best acceptance of the award.’ We were dancing across the stage! We didn’t do it for the money. We just love the product. We’re just loving selling it!”

For more information on Stöger Seed Oils, visit www.stogeroil.com.

When It Comes to Oils and Vinegars, Customers Always Seeking the Next Big Thing

By Lucas Witman

There was a time when shopping for cooking oil meant choosing between a few plastic bottles of vegetable, canola, peanut and olive oils, likely selecting the one with the most attractive price tag. Now, the average grocery store stocks dozens of different types of oils, and many consumers stock their pantries with a variety of them, each carefully selected to fulfill a different task in the kitchen. There is vegetable oil for frying, extra virgin olive oil for vinaigrettes, and sesame oil for finishing off a perfect stir-fry. These products may be accompanied by walnut, grape seed, cottonseed and avocado oil, or any number of additional products that are becoming increasingly popular among home cooks.

The U.S. vinegars marketplace has become similarly diverse in recent years. Gone is the simple choice consumers once had between white wine, red wine, cider and balsamic. Today, one may use French champagne vinegar in one dish, later switching to South Korean persimmon vinegar for another. Even within the world of balsamic vinegar, the number of different products available is staggering, including everything from a rich, syrupy 12-year-old balsamico di Modena from Italy to flavorful infusions with orange blossom, maple and even chocolate.

For oils and vinegars companies today, capturing the attention of the modern consumer means always looking for the next big thing. It is vital for successful companies to stay on top of current trends and work to offer consumers what they crave. One example of a company that is doing this is Kelapo, which is at the forefront of the growing coconut oil trend.

Coconut oil, extracted from mature coconut meat, has recently risen in popularity among U.S. consumers as a versatile cooking ingredient. Coconut oil can be used for a number of different purposes, from frying chicken to popping popcorn. It also works great for baked goods.

There are a growing number of companies currently bringing coconut oils and spreads to the American marketplace, but Kelapo founder Erin Meagher argues that her company’s products stand out above the rest.

“Everyone thinks, because they hear everything about coconut oil now, it’s all made the same, and it’s absolutely not the same,” Meagher said. “Beside being unrefined, organic and fair trade, ours is just a higher quality. You’re going to get it when you open up the jar and smell how light and flavorful it is. And when you cook with it, it’s going to have a great flavor and not leave any aftertaste.”

However, it is not just the quality of Kelapo coconut oil products that sets the company apart from its competition, but also the versatility of these offerings. “After the quality, it’s the innovation that we have,” Meagher said. “Just because you’re switching to coconut oil…you still want convenience. That’s why we have not just the jars. We have a cooking spray. We have the premeasured sticks, the pouches. If…I’m going fry my eggs with a cooking spray, why not coconut oil?”

With so many vinegar options available today, it is equally important for companies within this industry to do what they can to set themselves apart from the pack. This is what O Olive Oil has done, distinguishing itself for the quality of the vinegars it offers and their diversity. O Olive Oil offers no less than 19 different white wine, red wine, rice wine and balsamic vinegars, including everything from the rich and robust to the delicate and drinkable.

What truly differentiates O Olive Oil’s vinegars from those of the company’s competitors is the process through which they are created: barrel aging. “Most of the vinegars that you see on the market are aged mechanically,” said Mario Aranda, Vice President of O Olive Oil. “We’re in the middle of wine country, so we have access to all of the beautiful grapes and wines. Vinegar, by definition, is sour wine. Most of the vinegars out there do not use wine at all. They use sugar water, fruit water. But we use the actual wine, and then barrel age the vinegar.”

The makers of O Olive Oil also try to draw customers to the truly unique vinegars offered by the company by focusing on creating beautiful packaging. The company’s vinegars are so attractive that they have become quite popular as hostess gifts, even being featured on Oprah on an episode in which Oprah Winfrey herself presented some of her favorite holiday gifts. “We work very hard and say that we taste as good as we look,” Aranda said. “We won a number of design awards at [the Summer Fancy Food Show] and in design shows themselves. It ought to look and taste yummy as well.”

Ariston Continues Providing the Very Best in Olive Oil

Ariston-OVSThe Doukas family has been producing extra virgin olive oil for three generations and could only think of one word to describe it: “Ariston,” which in ancient Greek means, “the very best.” To keep offering the very best, at the 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show, Ariston introduced a line of Californian Koroneiki Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Californian Koroneiki Infused Olive Oils to meet customers need for products that are made here in the United States.

Since 1997, Ariston has been selling its extra virgin olive oil in the Ariston Refill and Save Program. Imagine that you buy six to 10 glass bottles per year of extra virgin olive oil. Now, imagine your neighbors, family and friends buy that many as well. When you are done with the bottle where does it go? By purchasing your extra virgin olive oil through Aristons Refill and Save program, you are able to reuse your bottle and save money on future refills. Due to the success of the Ariston Refill and Save Program, Ariston has now extended the program to its entire extra virgin olive oil, infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar condiments line. And while the rest of the EVOO world has caught on to the fusti bulk concept, Ariston sets itself apart by producing extra virgin olive oil from its own farms and neighboring farms, ensuring that consumers receive the very best oil from Koroneiki olive trees.

Ariston is planning to launch several new flavors, including chocolate-infused olive oil, thyme-infused olive oil, oregano-infused olive oil and pizza-flavored olive oil, as well as a series of premium flavored balsamic vinegars including chocolate-honey-orange, espresso balsamic, Sicilian lemon balsamic, mango balsamic, Calabrian tangerine balsamic and truffle-infused balsamic, just to name a few.

Arison also offers a line of all-natural honey from beekeepers local to where the olives are harvested as well as all-natural fruit preserves from Greece.

For more information, visit www.aristonoliveoil.com.

M2M Beverages Awarded for Unique Packaging

989-BEVERAGE-AWARDS-01 (3)H2M Beverages has paired creativity with technology to create unique new beverage concepts that give its products an edge—and H2M’s achievements haven’t gone unnoticed. H2M Beverages was recently awarded two different awards at the 2013 Beverage Innovation Awards in September for the unique bottle design of its star drink, 989 OnDemand.

The only company to receive two awards at the ceremony, H2M Beverages took home the prize for “Best New Beverage Concept” as well as “Best Closure” for its vitamin-enhanced drink, 989 OnDemand. The secret to the drink’s success is in the air-tight cap, which stores all vitamins, minerals and electrolytes until it is opened by the user, ensuring ultimate freshness at the exact moment of consumption. 989 OnDemand comes in an assortment of delicious flavors including grape, orange, punch, lemon lime, pomegranate blueberry and kiwi strawberry.

Cap_open1 (3)The patented cap, a two-piece unit designed to hold liquid or solid in an air-tight chamber, releases a combination of essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes into the water when the cap is twisted by the consumer. Once the cap’s contents have been released, the bottom portion is turned counter-clockwise to remove, allowing access to the bottle’s now freshly-mixed ingredients.

The 2013 Beverage Innovation Awards saw more than 370 entries from 40 different countries. The competition consisted of 29 different categories ranging from Best Dairy Drink to Best Brand Marketing Campaign, and awarded the brightest and best in the beverage industry for their achievements.

Moschino gives DISARONNO a Holiday Makeover

DISARONNO, the bestselling Italian liqueur in the world, rounds off a successful year with the ultimate drinks cabinet addition: the iconic bottle, with its unmistakable squared bottle top, will be made over by the Italian fashion house Moschino. This collaboration between two stylish Italian brands will be available for purchase starting this October.

DiSaronnoThe “MOSCHINO loves DISARONNO” bottle will be designed in the fashion house’s signature style, adorned with its classic heart pattern in a bold black and red color palette. This distinctive limited edition combines the characteristics of Moschino with the unmistakable silhouette of the DISARONNO bottle. It’s an ideal gift for fashionistas this holiday season.

The DISARONNO and Moschino project will support the charity Fashion 4 Development (sponsored by the United Nations) through a donation of its profits to help the development of this unique initiative in Africa.  The overall mission of Fashion 4 Development is to harness the power of the fashion and beauty industries in order to implement creative strategies for sustained economic growth and development in countries worldwide.

“We were interested in the idea of linking the iconic image of our bottle and brand to that of another that is also recognizable all over the world with a specially designed holiday look. Even though DISARONNO is already known for Italian quality and style worldwide, we’re always trying to reinvent ourselves and stay fresh, which is why we decided to get involved in the world of fashion, in particular Moschino, another dynamic brand with an extensive Italian heritage,” said Stefano Battioni General Manager of ILLVA Saronno, producer of the DISARONNO brand.

The exclusive “MOSCHINO loves DISARONNO” limited edition will be available this November for $24.99 at stores nationwide or through www.1-877-spirits.com.

 

Vestar Capital Partners Acquires Majority Interest in Roland Foods

Vestar Capital Partners VI, L.P. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a majority interest in the Roland Foods family of companies, including Bruno Scheidt, Inc., American Roland Food Corp., Pro Warehouse Corp. and Costamar Corp.

Roland Foods is a recognized leader in the imported specialty foods business in the United States and around the globe. “My parents started Roland Foods in the U.S. nearly 75 years ago, and the company has grown consistently over the years with the help of our valued customers, suppliers, and staff,” said Charles E. Scheidt, CEO of Roland Foods. “Vestar appreciates and shares our values, as well as our company’s single-minded focus on our brands, quality products and exceptional and reliable customer service. This evolution enables Roland Foods to build on its excellent foundation.”

“Roland Foods is a great company with a unique niche and superb reputation in the industry, and an exceptional initial investment for our new Vestar VI fund,” said Dan O’Connell, founder and CEO of Vestar. “Roland Foods is not only performing extremely well but also has impressive potential. Coupled with the bright growth outlook we see in the specialty foods sector, we believe Vestar’s resources and experience in the food and branded products arena can help Roland Foods grow substantially.”

Roland Foods’ current management team and staff will remain in place. Charlie Scheidt will continue as CEO and Chairman of the Board and will retain a meaningful investment in the company. The company anticipates that a new CEO will be named in the coming year. Roland Foods expects a seamless transition for the suppliers, vendors and customers, with continuity, stability and growth being top priorities.

Based in New York City, Roland Foods specializes in importing high-quality specialty food products from more than 40 countries. Founded in Paris in 1934 and established in the United States in 1939, Roland Foods has provided customers with exceptional specialty foods under the Roland brand as well as several other affiliated brands. The company has a national presence in the foodservice, retail, and industrial channels as well as international sales in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Roland Foods’ dedication to providing quality and consistency has made it a leader among food importers and suppliers. For more information, visit www.rolandfood.com.