Summertime, and the shopping will soon be easy for specialty food buyers in New York City as the Summer Fancy Food Show kicks off on Sunday, June 28. The three-day trade fair is expected to attract over 25,000 visitors from throughout North America and beyond who will walk aisles lined with booths displaying more than 180,000 products offered by upwards of 2,500 exhibitors from 50 countries and regions around the world.
As usual in late June, Manhattan will be a hot town day and night. But inside the Jacob Javits Center it will be comfortably cool, and even frozen in some areas, as a wide variety of frozen food products will be available to see and sample. Five of them are in the running for coveted Sofi Awards – three in the Ice Cream, Gelato & Frozen Treats category, and two going for the Frozen Savory gold.
Sofi, by the way, stands for “specialty outstanding food innovation.” The fierce competition, formerly known as the NASFT Product Awards, dates back to 1990 when the grand prize went to Love at First Bite’s California Frittata.
Getting to the final round is no small feat, as some 2,737 products were in the crowded running for 32 awards categories. Sponsored by the show organizer, the New York-headquartered Specialty Food Association, Sofi Awards entries were judged by a panel of industry professionals including retailers, chefs, caterers, culinary educators and journalists. The winners will be announced during a special ceremony hosted by Ted Allen of the Food Network on June 29.
Squaring off in the Ice Cream, Gelato & Frozen Treats final bout are: Tea•riffic! Ice Cream of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Steve’s Ice Cream of Brooklyn, New York; and Choctal LLC of Pasadena, California.
Infused with chamomile flowers from Egypt, Tea•riffic’s Chamomile Ice Cream is flavored with honey and apple. The producer specializes in crafting all-natural, tea-infused ice ream made with hormone-free dairy, cage-free eggs, organic evaporated cane sugar and specialty blends of teas. Among its other premium pint-size sweet treats are Masala Chai, Chunky London Mist, Ginger Matcha and Lavender’s Blueberry.
The entry from Steve’s Ice Cream is a traditional Dutch gingerbread dessert transformed into a frozen treat. Speculoos Cookie Butter is an organic coconut ice cream distributed in pints. The kosher product, which is dairy-, egg- and GMO-free, is offered at a suggested retail price of $6.99.
Choctal’s Kalimantan Chocolate Ice Cream is made from Borneo-sourced cacao beans that yield a dark, intense, pure chocolate taste sensation. A slight hint of caramel further enhances the flavor profile.
Other ultra-premium single-origin chocolate and vanilla ice creams offered by the company feature chocolate sourced from Ghana, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, and vanilla from Madagascar, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
Beef Links Vs. Ham Biscuits
And the winning product in the Frozen Savory category is: either 100% Fullblood Wagyu Beef Sausage Links from Lone Mountain Wagyu LLC of Los Angeles, California, or Country Ham Biscuits from Callie’s Charleston Biscuits LLC of North Charleston, South Carolina.
Made from a proprietary blend of filet mignon, strip loin, rib eye, flat iron, brisket and ground beef, Long Mountain Wagyu’s sausage is free of gluten, fillers, hormones, antibiotics, nitrates and other preservatives. Each package contains four links (one pound), which may be grilled, broiled or fried to serve as an entrée or as an addition to pasta or rice.
Callie’s Country Ham Biscuits are made from finely chopped artisanal Virginia country ham, Dijon mustard butter and the company’s signature cheese and chive biscuit. They are presented as a “perfect cocktail hors d’oeuvre, complementing champagne and spiced pecans,” as well as a breakfast dish plated with eggs and grits.
There will be plenty of other prize-worthy frozen food fare to enjoy at the show as well. A brief synopsis of some of what’s on the menu follows.
BE Delicious – Antarctic Foodies
Roeselare, Belgium-based BE Delicious – Antarctic Foodies will hold forth at Booth #3757. Formed by entrepreneurs Herwig Dejonghe and Christof Malysse, the joint venture enterprise shares great enthusiasm for the Flemish shrimp croquette, not to mention other traditional seafood dishes, waffles, cheese, chocolate, beer and more from West Flanders.
With roots in the frozen vegetable industry, Dejonghe is the managing director of Antarctic Foodies in Belgium and the majority shareholder of Antarctic Foods Aquitaine, which was previously a production site of Pinguin/Greenyard Foods. Antarctic Foodies organizes the export for Belgium-based Mestdagh Artisan, which specializes in producing frozen shrimp croquettes made from North Sea grey prawns, as well as patisserie and desserts including ice cream, sorbet and cakes.
Featuring a filling boasting 40% prawn, the Mestdagh Shrimp Croquette recipe perfected by Chef Luc Mestdagh while working in the Hotel-Restaurant Péniche kitchen many years ago, goes especially well with a glass of white wine or a blond Belgian beer. Other fillings in the croquette line range from cheese and Arden to sweetbread and lobster.
Malysse, like Dejonghe, hails from a family well known in the Belgian food industry. Cutting his teeth in the famous hotel restaurant De Marquette in Kortrijk run by his parents, he now heads up Lobster Fish. The company specializes in the distribution of shellfish as well as shrimp bisque and other seafood soups sold under the Délices Malysse label.
Visitors from North America stopping by the BE Delicious (which stands for Belgium Delicious) booth interested in procuring frozen vegetables for industrial further processing or other uses should speak with Mr. Dejonghe. His Antarctic Foods Aquitaine (ex Pinguin Aquitaine) operation in Ychoux, France, is a major producer of both organic and non-organic carrots, green peas, sweet corn and beans. The carrot growing season is now gearing up in the region, which supplies up to 40% of the crop in France.
“The soil in this fertile area is nitrate-free, and there are no heavy metal problems. This makes it ideal for growing organic vegetables, which is especially appealing to manufacturers of baby foods,” said Pinguin Aquitaine’s chief executive officer.
Daregal Frozen Herbs
Elsewhere in France, Milly la Foret-headquartered Daregal SA specializes in frozen aromatic herbs distributed to retail, foodservice and industrial clientele. It recently relaunched kitchen-ready chopped herbs in the United States market, which will be on display at Booth #3848.
“Our unique package design, featuring an easy-to-use shaker and re-sealable box, goes directly from the freezer into the dish being prepared without defrosting,” said Christine Cooney, director of the company’s Princeton, New Jersey-based US and Canada Retail Division. “Simply remove the container from the freezer, give it a little shake to loosen the chopped herbs, and shake out the desired amount.”
La Jolla, California-based Pitaya Plus will be found at Booth #5456 with frozen dragon fruit sourced from Central America. Featuring rich, magenta-colored pulp on the inside, the tasty product is a good source of fiber and magnesium.
Union, New Jersey-headquartered Deep Foods will hold forth at Booth #1366 with a range of Indian and Thai frozen ready meals sold under the Tandor Chef and Deep Foods brand names. Its halal-certified vegetarian and non-vegetarian offerings include Gourmet Naan pizzas (Jalapeno, Margherita, Cilantro Pesto, Spinach Paneer and Roasted Eggplant), Lamb Vindaloo, Masala Dosa and other products.
Saffron Road Foods
Stamford, Connecticut-based Saffron Road Foods, also known for Indian and Thai cuisine, will showcase four new Korean-inspired frozen entrees at Booth #3921: Beef Bulgogi, Bibimbop with Tofu, Bibimbop with Beef, and Gochujang Chicken.
It will also introduce two tacos – one with a Korean-style chicken filling and the other made with tofu. Also newly launched at the show will be two crunchy chickpea snack flavors – Chipotle and Korean BBQ – to join the falafel, Bombay spice and wasabi lineup.
All of these new products are in addition to 12 other frozen entrees including: Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Saag, Chicken Pad Thai, Lemongrass Basil Chicken, Moroccan Lamb Stew, Macaroni & Cheese, Lasagna, and the first ever Non-GMO Project Verified entree, Chana Saag, as well as four different gluten-free Chicken Nuggets/Tenders offerings.
Houston, Texas-based Spring Kitchen specializes in authentic Vietnamese-style spring rolls and eggrolls made from the Do family recipe. The third generation family-owned company, which has been producing artisanal frozen delicacies for more than 25 years, has capacity for output of up to 50,000 eggrolls per day. Its offerings can be sampled at Booth #4022.
Chipotle Chicken & Sweet Potato and Corn & Roasted Poblano will debut at Stand #5257 under the expanding range of Latin-inspired Buen Sabor brand frozen ready meals. The MSRP is $4.99 per twin-pack.
“Modern flavors are what make our products awesome,” said Sarah Pike, founder and chief executive officer of the Newburyport, Massachusetts-based company, a unit of Good Tastes Public Benefit Corp. “This is just the beginning of extending our product line.”
The two new empanadas join Buen Sabor’s existing frozen empanadas, including Sweet Plantain & Gorgonzola empanada and Spicy Beef & Lentil empanada, as well as other six other gluten-free frozen meals, including four rice bowls and a number of traditional dishes.
Brio Ice Cream
Deliciously rich ice cream that’s also healthy? Such is not an oxymoron to the maker of Brio, a new product from Montpelier, Vermont-based company Nutricopia, Inc. Folks attending the Fancy Food Show are invited to scoop some up at Booth #5119.
“We worked tirelessly to upgrade ice cream and give it a healthy makeover without sacrificing the creamy richness and flavors that you expect from top-of-the-line brands,” said Arnie Koss, president and co-founder of the company. “We’re proud of the result, which features fresh, whole milk from Wisconsin dairies combined with real Madagascar vanilla, organic salted caramel, real coffee, dark cocoa, juicy strawberries and Alphonso mangos.”
Working to achieve the right balance of “delicious and healthy,” Arnie’s twin brother and business partner Ron Koss led a team that included former Ben & Jerry’s flavor developers and noted dietitians and nutritionists. After ten years of product development, testing at Cornell’s food labs, two patents and a published scientific study in Today’s Dietitian, the Koss brothers have just begun commercial production of their ice cream line.
“We named it Brio, which means vitality, vigor and energy,” said the president. “Certified gluten-free and non-GMO, it has half the total fat of super-premium ice cream, 65% less saturated fat, 75% less cholesterol and approximately 25% fewer calories, and has a low glycemic index.
Three Twins & Ruby Rockets
Among other frozen confectionery purveyors at the show will be Three Twins Ice Cream of Petaluma, California (Booth #5223) and Ruby Rocket’s of New York City (Booth #5530). Three Twins serves up a wide assortment of organic, stabilizer-free flavors, while Ruby Rocket’s claim to fame is a Veggie & Fruit Pop.
From Menduno, Italy, frozen pizza specialist Roncadin SPA will slice up its wood-fired products at Stand #2629A, while Norwalk, Connecticut-based Surgital America will dish out Garganelli Romagnoli and other pasta favorites at Booth #1672. Filled pasta specialties from the company, founded by Romana Tamburini and her husband in 1980, are served at restaurants in over 60 countries.
The list of frozen food suppliers goes on and on. Check out easy-to-use duck products from Leesburg, Indiana-based Maple Leaf Farms at Booth #357, and hand-stretched ethnic flatbreads at the #3849 Stand of Paterson, New Jersey-headquartered Kontos Foods, Inc.
Speakers and Seminars Too
In addition to exhibits, there will be a number of seminars and presentations just outside the fairgrounds in the Javits Center. Doug Rauch, former president of the Monrovia, California-headquartered Trader Joe’s retail chain and chief executive officer of Conscious Capitalism, Inc., will speak about his latest venture, Daily Table, from 10-11 AM on June 29.
Also in the line-up is Suzy Badaracco, who will discuss food and flavor trends across generations and examine the difference in consumer behavior between various age groups.
“Thought leadership has become a growing part of our show and our culture,” said Ann Daw, president of the Specialty Food Association. “Every year we strive to present speakers who provide new insights into what drives our industry, which is constantly evolving.” – Reported by John Saulnier