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Meet the Prize-Winning Innovators in the 2017 sofi New Product Category

By Robin Mather

International flavors and new twists on old favorites characterize the 2017 sofi award winners for new products at the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Foods Show. Several products which won for new product also won top honors in their categories. This is a new category for the sofi awards.

Here are the winners in each category.

Baked good: Sharp Cheddar Biscuits, by Callie’s Charleston Biscuits LLC of North Charleston, South Carolina. 843.577.1198

Baking mix or ingredient: Gluten-free Crust Mix by renowned chef Thomas Keller’s Cup4Cup of Napa, California. 707.754.4263

Barbecue sauce: Dr. Foo’s Kitchen Bali BBQ Sauce by Fischer & Weiser Specialty Foods, Fredericksburg, Texas. 830.997.7194

Cow’s milk cheese: St. Albans Cheese, by Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vermont. 802.479.9371

Non-cow milk cheese: Daphne’s Creamery Chèvre by Zoe’s Meats, Santa Rosa, California. 707.545.9637

Chocolate candy: Almond Gold Bar by Fran’s Chocolates LTD, Seattle, Washington 206.322.0233

Chocolate, dark: Cheeky Cheeky Churro Chocolate by Chuao Chocolatier, Carlsbad, California. 740.476.0197

Chocolate, milk and white: Moka Fleck Chocolate by Lake Champlain Chocolates, Burlington, Vermont. 802.864.1808

Cold beverage drink and cocktail mix: Top Note Indian Tonic Water by La Pavia Beverages Inc, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 414.208.9677

Cold beverage RTD: Gazpacho with Mediterranean Seawater by Seawater Food & Beverage Inc, Dallas, Texas 214.537.5070

Condiment: Tomato Nduja by City Saucery, Brooklyn, New York 718.753.4006

Confection: Strawberry Mango Gummy Pandas by Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier, Saint Louis, Missouri. 314.615.2438

Cookie: Chocolate Chip Tiny Cookies by Tate’s Bake Shop, Southampton, New York. 631.780.6511

Cooking sauce or marinade: Cambodian Coconut Peanut Sauce by Wozz! Kitchen Creations, Bethlehem, New Hampshire. The sauce also won gold in this category. 603.915.3528

Cracker: Sourdough Crispbread Pink Peppercorn by Peter’s Yard Limited, Gerrards Cross, Bucks UK, (44)796.768.7717.

Dairy yogurt or dairy alternative: Organic Greek Strained Yogurt by Kourellas Dairy, New York, New York. 646.684.9131

Dessert sauce or topping: Bourbon Barrel Aged Hard Cider Goat’s Milk Caramel Sauce by Fat Toad Farm, Brookfield, Vermont. 802.279.3893

Gluten-free: Gluten-Free Korean Hot Sauce by K-Mama Sauce LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 612.460.5156

Granola: Artisan Grains Chocolate, Coconut and Almond by Don’s Food Products, Schwenksville, Pennsylvania. 484.991/1011

Honey: Propolis Hazelnut Cocoa Raw Honey by SBS Americas Inc, Valley Cottage, New York. 516.263.3490

Hot beverage: Oregon Mint and Tulsi Tea by The Tao of Tea, Portland, Oregon 503.736.0198

Ice cream, gelato or frozen treat: Passion Fruit Guava Sorbet by Cable Car Delights, Inc., Berkeley, California. 510.849.0143

Jam or preserve: Spiced Raisin Marmalata by Le Bon Magot, Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The product also won gold in this category. 609.477.2847

Meat, poultry or charcuterie: Jalapeno Bacon Cheddar Bratwurst by Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats, Wittenberg, Wisconsin. 715.253.4000.

Nut or seed butter: Nocciolata Dairy-Free Organic Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread by Rigoni Di Asiago USA, Miami, Florida. 305.470.7583.

Nut or other oil: Jalapeño Lime Infused Oil by Extravagonzo Gourmet Foods LLC, Boise, Idaho. 208.639.2926

Olive oil: Olives and Mandarines Condiment by Azienda Agricola Coppini Arte Olearia srl, San Secondo Parmense, Italy. 00390521877621

Pasta, rice or grain: Rustichella d’Abruzzo Pasta Integrale di Farro Couscous by Manicaretti Italian Food Imports, Oakland, California. 510.740.2020

Pasta sauce: Alfredo of Rome, the Only Original Alfredo Sauce by Jersey Italian Gravy, Oakland, New Jersey. 201.620.2111

Pickle or preserved vegetable: Bread n’ Butter Pickles by McClure’s Pickles, LLC, Detroit, Michigan. 248.837.9323.

Salad dressing: Aunt Dottie’s Salad Dressing Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette by JGF Enterprises, Okatie, South Carolina. The product also won gold in this category. 843.645.9050

Salsa or dip: White Bean Dip by Maya Kaimal Fine Foods, Rhinebeck, New York. 845.876.8200.

Savory snack: Cilantro Lime Chickpea Chips, also by Maya Kaimal Fine Foods, Rhinebeck, New York. 845.876.8200

Seasoning or spice: Slow Cooker Sichuan Blend by The Zen of Slow Cooking, Lake Forest, Illinois. 847.340.8414

Sweet snack: Organic Coconut with Cranberries, Cashews, Almonds and Chia Seeds by Creative Snacks Co., Greensboro, North Carolina. 336.668.4151

Vegan product: Sea Salt Chocolate Covered Cocomel Bites by Cocomels by JJ’s Sweets, Boulder, Colorado. 303.800.6492

Vinegar: Strawberry White Balsamic Vinegar by Olivelle, Bozeman, Montana. 406.587.4246

GFI Shines a Light on Commitment to Sustainability

By Lorrie Baumann

When Rob Wilson drove up to his office in West Caldwell, New Jersey, on June 8, he took a few minutes to look up at the rooftop of Gourmet Foods International’s Northeast Distribution Center and smiled. Then he hustled inside to prepare for the ceremony in which the ribbon would be cut and he’d flip the switch on a brand new solar array.

The decision to install solar came from the McCall family, which owns GFI. “As a family company, we have always considered future generations in our decisions. This is no different,” says Brewster McCall, adding “Now more than ever, it is critical for national companies to take a strong moral lead on environmental issues. We are looking to expand clean energy technologies in our distribution centers across the country.”

GFI roofOnce the decision was made to install the new solar panels, it took almost a year to make it happen, starting with a permitting process and the engineering to ensure that the building’s roof could support the array and even including a check to ensure that the rooftop array wouldn’t interfere with the flight path of aircraft using the small Essex County airport that’s just about a quarter of a mile down the road. “We actually went to the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] to be sure it was okay to put these panels in,” Wilson said. “We paid attention to every detail, and rightly so.”

The solar project will provide benefits for GFI customers as well. By diversifying the company’s energy portfolio, the national specialty food supplier will reduce electricity costs a minimum of 30 percent, allowing potential cost savings to be passed on to its customers.

More than 500 panels across the distribution center’s entire roof will power all of the company’s operations at its 50,000 square-foot facility with clean, renewable energy. “This is a very big celebration for our company,” Wilson said as he was making final preparations for the big day. “We’re so excited and proud of this. We’re having the ribbon-cutting, followed by our entire team celebrating over lunch.”

The moment that the switch is flipped to pull the building’s energy from the solar array will mark the success of what is just the company’s most recent accomplishment in support of GFI’s total commitment. “We take social responsibility as a core value of our company. This decision to use solar energy is part of that core value,” Wilson said. “The solar project exemplifies the GFI commitment to sustainability, whether it is solar energy, recycling, use of biodiesel trucks or supporting local, eco-friendly artisans that create the great products we are privileged to provide…. It really is a great event for our company and a statement for our industry.”

The solar array will, in addition to generating energy, produce no greenhouse gas emissions. Over the expected 20-year life span of the array, it will eliminate CO2 emissions that are the equivalent of planting 151,497 trees or reducing driving by more than 13 million car miles. It’ll displace the carbon dioxide emissions for the annual electricity use of 737 homes, and it’ll prevent the burning of more than 6 million pounds of coal. “This is something we are very proud of as well,” Wilson said. “It’s clean energy and totally inexhaustible. It’s nonpolluting and doesn’t emit greenhouse gases.”

GFI is also proud to be supporting jobs for the American workers who built the solar panels. “Our panels are made in the United States. It was a very important part of the decision process. That’s another of our core values – taking care of our team members by supporting the domestic economy as well as the environment,” Wilson said. “It’s really about giving back. It’s about taking care of everyone and everything through a sincere commitment to what is just and fitting, and that is the GFI culture”.

Something Dark this Way Comes

Rogue Ales & Spirits, the country’s only brewery-distillery-cooperage, announces the release of 2017 Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout. Brewed with ingredients grown at Rogue Farms and ocean aged in Dead Guy Whiskey-soaked handmade Oregon Oak barrels coopered at Rogue’s Rolling Thunder Barrel Works, Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout is the culmination of a long journey from bark to bottle. In 2015 Rogue acquired vintage, WW II era, coopering equipment and subsequently established Rolling Thunder Barrel Works to take on the ancient art form of barrel making. Using Oregon Oak, Rogue’s cooper Nate Lindquist assembles, raises, toasts, chars, hoops, cauterizes, sands and brands one barrel a day, all by hand.

“At first it was a creative challenge,” said General Manager Dharma Tamm, “to see how we could incorporate our brewery, distillery, cooperage and farm into one beer. However, our brewers, distillers, coopers, farmers – and even graphic designers turned it into a quest to create a world class beer that exemplifies the Rogue spirit of challenging the norm and pushing creative boundaries.”

Rogue stoutBlack with a creamy head, Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout features deep sherry notes accentuated by hints of coconut, cherries, dark fruit and vanilla held up against a dark roasted malt backbone with earthy hops. At 14 percent alcohol, this year’s Rolling Thunder is bigger and bolder than the inaugural 2016 release. Limited quantities of Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout will be available on draft and in 1-liter swing-top bottles at Rogue public houses starting July 21, then at select retailers nationwide on August 1. For more information visit

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