By Lorrie Baumann
“Goats are getting a lot of love tonight,” Big Picture Farm Co-founder Lucas Farrell observed as he accepted the sofi Award for Outstanding New Product for 2015 for Raspberry Rhubarb Goat Milk Caramels together with Co-founder Louisa Conrad. The two started their farm in the fall of 2010 with just four goats and now have 44, who were very happy to see Farrell back at home after the conclusion of this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show. “They were very happy to see us. They’re going to go on new pastures, and I’ve got to mow the old ones,” Farrell said.
The show was a commercial as well as critical success for Big Picture Farm, which also won a sofi Award this year in the Outstanding Confection category for Goat Milk Chai Caramels. Big Picture Farm previously won a sofi in 2011 for its Sea Salt and Bourbon Vanilla Caramel, and the chai caramels also won a Good Food Award in 2013. During the three days of this year’s show, Big Picture took “a fair amount” of orders, both from current customers and some new ones who stopped by for a taste after the sofi Awards ceremony, Farrell said. “It helps bring people who might otherwise not stop at our booth to come over and put a caramel in their mouth,” he said. “That’s our main selling point, when they taste it.”
Continuing the goat love, Fat Toad Farm Goat’s Milk Caramels won the 2015 sofi Award for Outstanding Product Line. Fat Toad Farm is run by husband and wife team Steve Reid and Judith Irving, their daughter Calley Hastings, and three employees. “We’re from Vermont,” Hastings said as she accepted the award. “Our family is back there working the goats so we get to be here.”
The awards were presented by Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, an Iron Chef and frequent judge on Chopped, who substituted for Ted Allen from Chopped, who had been scheduled to host the ceremony but sent a video presentation in his stead. “You know how much I love food I’m eating, and you know I’m quite passionate about it,” she said. “I really love food, sometimes too much, and nothing gives me more joy than to eat food made by people who love it too.”
Awards were presented in 32 categories, with winners selected from more than 2,700 entries. Products were tasted and judged by a panel that included journalists and restaurateurs to select finalists, while the winners of the gold trophies were selected by the votes of retailers and distributors who tasted the products during the show.
Callie’s Charleston Biscuits took home two sofi Awards for Outstanding Frozen Savory, which went to the company’s Country Ham Biscuits, and for Outstanding Bread, Muffin, Granola, or Cereal, which went to Cheese and Chive Biscuits. There was a tie for the sofi for Outstanding Cooking, Dipping or Finishing Sauce, and dual sofis went to Charissa for Authentic Moroccan Seasoning and to Kitchens of Africa for Zanzibar.
Three Lone Mountain Wagyu products were selected as sofi finalists: 100 percent Fullblood Wagyu Beef Summer Sausage in the Appetizer, Antipasto, or Hors d’Oeuvres category; 100 percent Fullblood Wagyu Beef Sausage Links in the Frozen Savory category; and 100 percent Fullblood Wagyu Beef Jerky in the Savory Snack category. The gold award went to the summer sausage.
This year’s Outstanding Baking Ingredient, Baking Mix or Flavor Enhancer was the Blood Orange Olive Oil Brownie Kit by Sutter Buttes Natural and Artisan Foods, while the Bay Blue from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese was named the Outstanding Cheese. The Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee from Laurie & Sons was named Outstanding Chocolate. Read more about Laurie & Sons in the snacks supplement in this issue. The Outstanding Cookie, Brownie, Cake or Pie was Organic Molten Chocolate Cake – Dark Decadence from Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, while the Outstanding Dessert Sauce, Topping or Syrup was Salted Caramel Sauce from Coop’s MicroCreamery.
Vermont Creamery’s Cultured Butter Sea Salt Basket was named the show’s Outstanding Classic Product, while the Blackberry Sheep Milk Yogurt from Bellwether Farms was named Outstanding Dairy or Dairy Alternative Product. The Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream from Steve’s Ice Cream took home the award for Outstanding Ice Cream, Gelato or Frozen Treat.
Tea Forte’s Vanilla Pear Tea was named Outstanding Hot Beverage, while Owl’s Brew’s White and Vine was named Outstanding Cold Beverage. The award for Outstanding Condiment went to Sir Kensington’s Special Sauce, while Grains of Health took home the Outstanding Cracker award for Laiki Black Rice Crackers. Crown Maple’s Grade A Very Dark Color Strong Taste Maple Syrup was named Outstanding Foodservice Product. The award for Outstanding Jam, Preserve, Honey, or Nut butter went to Manicaretti Italian Food Imports for Sicilian Pistachio Spread. Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Foods’ Salametto Piccante was named Outstanding Meat, Pate or Seafood; Castillo de Canena Smoked Arbequina Olive Oil, imported into the U.S. by Culinary Collective, won the award for Outstanding Oil. The Outstanding Vinegar was Organic Apple Balsamic Vinegar from Ritrovo Italian Regional Foods.
Nella Pasta’s Corn, Caramelized Onion & Thyme Ravioli won the award for Outstanding Pasta, Rice, or Grain. The award for Outstanding Pasta Sauce went to Pumpkin and Kale Alfredo Sauce from Sauces ‘n Love. Cracked Sesame Miso from Nago Foods won the award for Outstanding Salad Dressing, and Sweet Chili Chickpea Chips from Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods were named the Outstanding Savory Snack. Kettle Pipcorn from Pipsnacks won the award for Outstanding Sweet Snack. Look for more about Pipsnacks in the October issue of Gourmet News.
Tate’s Bake Shop’s Gluten Free Ginger Zinger Cookie was named the Outstanding Vegan or Gluten-Free Product. Nona Lim Thai Curry and Lime Broth from Cook San Francisco was named Outstanding Soup, Stew, Bean or Chili.
Finally, the Outstanding Salsa or Dip was Kiwi Lime Salsa Verde from Wozz! Kitchen Creations. Wozz! won sofi Awards in 2014 for Ginger Soy Infusion, which was named Outstanding Dressing, and for Triple Ale Onion Spread, which was named Outstanding Condiment. “I’m an Australian in America, winning with a Mexican condiment,” Wozz said as he accepted the award. “God bless America!”