The 2015 winners of the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s Taste of NYC: Fancy Food Fellowship, a New York City-sponsored competition designed to send New York City-based specialty foods manufacturers to an internationally recognized trade show this summer in New York city, connecting small business owners to a global audience. The four winners of this year’s competition, which focused on immigrant entrepreneurs in the city—Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, City Saucery, Port Morris Distillery and Spoonable— each won an NYCEDC sponsored booth at the Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) Summer Fancy Food Show, which is being held at the Jacob Javits Center from June 28-30.
“These four businesses exemplify the diversity, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of New York City’s unique and vibrant food industry,” said NYCEDC Chief Strategy Officer Benjamin Branham. “The specialty food industry is experiencing tremendous growth and it is important that we help connect immigrant entrepreneurs to new economic opportunities by helping them build their brand, increase production and expand into new markets. Congratulations to Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, Port Morris Distillery, Spoonable and City Saucery. I look forward to seeing them continue to thrive and grow.”
“Two-thirds of New York City small business owners are immigrants and initiatives such as the Fancy Food Fellowship, which celebrate and nurture immigrant entrepreneurs, are of the utmost importance to creating opportunities in our communities,” said Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal. “New Yorkers are very proud of their diverse food offerings, and this program wonderfully showcases our rich cuisine. I congratulate the winners and look forward to sampling their wares.”
“Specialty food sales are at an all-time high, and New York City food manufacturers are at the forefront of innovation,” said Ann Daw, President of the Specialty Food Association. “We have been helping food entrepreneurs succeed in the marketplace since we were founded in 1952, and share the same goal as NYCEDC to help foster growth in this important city sector.”
In addition to NYCEDC sponsored exhibit space, the fellows will receive promotional services and expert marketing and technical assistance to help them refine their sales pitch, product display and business plan to get the most out of their show experience and land important new contracts.
The four winners of the 2015 Taste of NYC: Fancy Food Fellowship, are:
Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen: Auria Abraham was born and raised in Seremban, Malaysia. Her company, Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, is based in Flatbush, Brooklyn and specializes in helping people discover Malaysian cuisine. Her signature products: a traditional condiment called ‘Hot Chilli Sambal.’ Learn more about Auria’s journey here.
“It’s such an honor to be picked by NYCEDC for this Fellowship,” said Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen Founder Auria Abraham. “New York City is such a wonderful place to build a food business for so many reasons, and this is the icing on the cake. With this opportunity, we hope to reach a wider audience, build the business and be able to return the love and support that this great city has shown us.”
City Saucery: Co-founders Michael Marino, a Brooklyn native, Jorge Moret of Venezuela and Nonna Carolina, who emigrated from Italy to the United States in the 1970s, started their Staten Island-based artisanal tomato sauce company using regionally sourced ingredients to create unique, delicious and healthy sauces for the discerning palate. Learn more about the secret to a perfect tomato sauce here.
“I don’t have many words to explain what this means to me but I do know that this opportunity tells me all my efforts to put good and clean food on the American table has been recognized,” said City Saucery co-Founder Nonna Carolina. “It’s a wonderful feeling! I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity. Buon appetito!”
Port Morris Distillery: Rafael Barbosa and Billy Valentin, of Puerto Rican heritage, were both raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the Frederick Douglass Houses. The duo produces spirits based on the heritage, traditions and family recipes of Guayama, Puerto Rico at their distillery in the Port Morris neighborhood of the Bronx. Learn more about the “moonshine” of Puerto Rico here.
“It is an honor to be selected as a Taste of NYC Fancy Food Fellow, and we are thrilled that we will be participating in the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show,” said Port Morris Distillery co-Founder Rafael Barbosa. “This program provides our business with an opportunity to showcase our products for important industry leaders and take major steps forward in growing our businesses. Never in our minds would we have thought or imagined that we would receive this great opportunity, and I’d like to thank NYCEDC for making this possible.”
Spoonable LLC: Michelle Lewis spent much of her life oversees and pulls from her French-Moroccan heritage to create her confectionary caramel sauces, including ‘Spicy Chili Caramel’ and ‘Brooklyn Butterscotch.’ Based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Spoonable’s story begins with leftover caramel sauce turned into a gift to friends, proving the entrepreneurial spirit can strike at any time. Learn more about Spoonable’s ‘saucy’ inspiration here.
“Spoonable is so excited to have our own booth at the Summer Fancy Food Show this year,” said Spoonable Founder Michelle Lewis. “For the first time, thanks to the NYCEDC, we’ll have the space to feature our bulk and private label business and our wholesale business, as well as showcase the companies we partner with. All in all, we look forward to many more sales opportunities.”
This year’s runners-up will receive a year-long membership to the Specialty Food Association to help them grow their business through marketing assistance, special discounts, networking opportunities, educational workshops, advice from experts and a free consultation with Specialty Food Association’s legal or trademark advisor.
These three companies are:
Hungry Bars: Vlad Harkovski, a Bulgarian-born outdoor and fitness enthusiast decided to turn his hobby into a business when he opened Hungry Bars in Astoria, Queens. The company specializes in small batch granola bars using only organic, natural ingredients.
Pierre’s Spicy: Pierre Henry infuses a Haitian twist into his small batch premium almond and peanut butters. Based in East Harlem, Henry spends most of his time cooking and recreating the tastes that tantalized his palate as a child.
Xilli: For over 17 years, Mexico City-born chef Nacxitl Gaxiola has brought his extensive knowledge of authentic Mexican cuisine to some of New York City’s most prestigious restaurants. Gaxiola, based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is known for its handmade salsas, moles, escabeches and adobos using only the freshest ingredients and the most conscientious methods.
Over the last decade, there has been an 11 percent growth in employment in the City’s food and beverage manufacturing subsector. Today, there are nearly 1,000 of these businesses across the five boroughs, many of which are minority or women-owned business enterprises. The subsector supplies approximately 20 percent of total manufacturing jobs in New York City, and has been recognized for some of the most innovative, diverse and in-demand artisanal culinary products in the country.
The Fancy Food Fellowship is one of a suite of New York-led initiatives designed to support the artisanal and specialty food and beverage industry. Other programs include:
In March, NYCEDC announced the selection of Dinner Lab, Inc. to construct and operate Brooklyn FoodWorks, a 10,000 square foot shared kitchen and culinary incubator in Central Brooklyn designed to provide affordable space to burgeoning local food entrepreneurs as they prototype, launch and develop their businesses.
, NYCEDC has also partnered with the New York City Housing Authority, New York City Department of Small Business Services, Citi Community Development, Hot Bread Kitchen, and others to launch the NYCHA Food Business Pathways, a 10 week intensive business course to empower NYCHA residents to start and grow their own food-related businesses.