How sweet it is, the taste of victory savored by the Steve’s Ice Cream team! Its Speculoos Cookie Butter Dairy-Free Ice Cream scooped up a gold sofi award in the Outstanding Ice Cream, Gelato, or Frozen Treat category at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York.
Produced in Brooklyn, the new kosher- and vegan-certified product is a traditional Dutch gingerbread dessert transformed into a frozen treat featuring an organic cream base flavored with speculoos cookie butter churned with chunks of crunchy gingerbread cookie.
The frozen confection was one of 33 winners in the fiercely contested annual competition, which salutes excellence across all specialty food categories – from appetizers and pastas to crackers, cheese, chocolate, condiments and more. Sofi, by the way, is an acronym for “specialty outstanding food innovation.”
The Outstanding New Product Award for 2015 went to Big Picture Farm of Townshend, Vermont, for its Raspberry Rhubarb Goat Milk Caramels.
In the only other frozen category (Frozen Savory), a gold sofi trophy went to Callie’s Charleston Biscuits of North Charleston, South Carolina, for Callie’s Country Ham Biscuits. The product is made with finely chopped artisanal Virginia country ham, Dijon mustard butter and the company’s signature cheese and chive biscuit. It is presented as a “perfect cocktail hors d’oeuvre, complementing champagne and spiced pecans,” as well as a breakfast dish plated with eggs and grits.
The winners, selected from 2,715 entries, were announced at a red-carpet awards ceremony at the Javits Center in Manhattan during the 61st edition of the Summer Fancy Food Show, organized by the New York-headquartered Specialty Food Association. The coveted gold sofi chef statues were presented by Chef Alex Guarnaschelli.
The ice cream competition was a battle royale as two other “cold warriors” were in the running to win the hearts, minds and taste buds of a judge and jury consisting of leading retailers, caterers, food writers, educators and other culinary experts. Tea•Riffic Ice Cream of Bridgeport, Connecticut, dished out Chamomile Ice Cream infused with chamomile flower tea from Egypt, honey and apple. Choctal LLC of Pasadena, California, served up Kalimantan Chocolate Ice Cream made from Borneo-sourced cacao beans.
In the Frozen Savory category, Callie’s was up against 100% Fullblood Wagyi Beef Sausage Links from Lone Mountain Wagyu LLC of Los Angeles, California. Made from a proprietary blend of filet mignon, strip loin, rib eye, flat iron, brisket and ground beef, the product 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.
Over 25,000 visitors attended the three-day show, which featured more than 25,000 exhibitors from around the globe. As usual, Italians had the highest profile among national contingents promoting foods and drinks produced outside the USA. Also well represented in number were companies from France, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Morocco, Egypt, India, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, Korea and China.
Italian Pasta and Pizza
Among examples of “Made in Italy” frozen fare at the fair was traditional-style pasta from Maremma, Tuscany, distributed under the Gastronomica label launched by sisters Marzia and Michela Hublitz in 1989. Their company specializes in making pre-cooked tortelli with a variety of fillings including cheese, spinach, scampi, lobster and zucchini, as well as lasagna, ravioli, cannelloni and other items.
From Menduno, Italy, frozen pizza specialist Roncadin SPA sliced up its wood-fired specialties, while Norwalk, Connecticut-based Surgital America showcased Garganelli Romagnoli and other pasta favorites.
Lucca-based PAMA srl offered a tasty assortment of organic, GM-free frozen pizza bases and foccacia products. Both thin and thick crusts are available.
The USA is home to a large number of Italian food manufacturers, as evidenced by the wide variety of products from The Ravioli Store. At the show the Long Island City, New York-based artisanal pasta company, in business since 1989, highlighted its new 340-gram Five Cheese Ravioli freezer pack featuring a special blend of extra-thin egg pasta.
Among other signature ravioli items offered, all natural and hand-made, are Asparagus in Lemon Dough; Tomato & Mozzarella; Sweet Pea; Aged Goat Cheese; Wild Mushroom & Truffle; Walnut & Basil Pesto; Black Bean & Pepper Jack; Lobster & Scallop Mousse; and Spinach & Ricotta.
Fine Tastes of Belgium
Belgian cuisine could be seen and sampled in the national pavilion as well as at stands positioned elsewhere within the sprawling fairgrounds. Frozen North Sea Shrimp Croquettes, cheese and chocolates were promoted by Herwig and Mieke Dejonghe at the BE Delicious – Antarctic Foodies booth, while Eric Smeys at the Food Partners stand down the aisle was talking up Chatka brand fish and seafood ready meals produced at an IFS-certified factory in Heppignies.
Roeselare-based BE Delicious – Antarctic Foodies, formed by entrepreneurs Herwig Dejonghe and Christof Malysse, is a joint venture enterprise with high-energy 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 for Pinguin/Greenyard Foods. Antarctic Foodies organizes the export for Veurne-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 content, the 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 blond Belgian beer. Other fillings in the croquette line include Gruyere & Emmental Cheese, Smoked Ham & Cheese, Mussels, and Butter-Potato.
Christof Malysse, like Mr. 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.
Belgian Kitchen and Belgian Boys
A number of Americans at the Summer Fancy Food Show were championing Belgian cuisine themes as well. Among them was Sean Lee of Hackensack, New Jersey-based Belgian Kitchen. His company specializes in the kind of frozen dough required to make authentic Liege Waffles. The recipe features a yeast-based brioche dough studded with pearl sugar imported from Belgium.
Elsewhere on the scene, the Farmingdale, New York-based Belgian Boys stand was well stocked with everything from waffle chips and chocolate-filled waffles, to mini pancakes, crepes and a caramel cone bites ice cream treat featuring a hazelnut-filled bottom.
As cash-strapped Greece continues to struggle through trying economic times, the nation’s Kifissia-based Ifantis Food Group was trying its best to generate hard currency at the show through the sale of frozen Authentic Greek brand ready meals. Its line of 300-gram, preservative-free retail packs is made from recipes inspired by the Mediterranean diet. Among the offerings are Moussaka, featuring layers of grilled eggplant, potatoes, minced pork meat and creamy béchamel; Aubergine a la Grecque, with original Greek feta cheese and onions; Okra a la Grecque with tomato sauce; and Seasonal Vegetables with tomato sauce.
Also on the scene was Queens, New York-based Loumidas Foods. The Greek cuisine specialist distributes a myriad of items, including Ioniki brand frozen baked goods ranging from spiral pie with feta cheese and puff pastry minis with feta cheese, to hazelnut-filled rings and Bougatsa traditional pie. It also carries Apollo brand filo dough from Krinos Foods, halal gyro strips under its own label, and Kronos brand Titan gyro strips.
Plantains from Ecuador
Sweet Plaintain Slices from Life Products of Ecuador were served up at the show by personnel from Spanish Food Solutions, its Great Neck, New York-based distributor in the USA. Ecuador is one of the leading producers of plaintains in the world, with over 136,323 sowed hectares, primarily in the El Carmen (Santo Domingo) and Guayas regions.
Spanish Food Solutions supplies retail operators in North America with many frozen products that appeal to Latin American consumers, among them tostones, empanadas, yucca/cassava fries and various tropical fruit pulps. Demand is growing in the USA market, where the Hispanic population of 53.3 million is the second largest in the world. With its numbers increasing by 1.1 million on average per year, the ethnic group’s purchasing power reportedly reached $1.4 trillion in 2014.
Super Versatile Empanada
Newburyport, Massachusetts-based Buen Sabor, a unit of Good Tastes Public Benefit Corp., served up two new Empanada product fillings – Sweet Plaintain & Gorgonzola and Spicy Beef & Lentil – from a 1976-era Volkswagen bus converted into a mobile food truck that was parked inside the North Hall of the Javits Center fairgrounds. They join already established Corn & Roasted Poblano and Chipolte Chicken & Sweet Potato offerings, all of which are preservative-free, distributed in frozen form and quick to prepare.
Indian Dishes: Delicious & Nutritious
While the preponderance of Indian products were on display in the large India Pavilion, purveyors of Indian-style frozen food products were found elsewhere at the Javits Center.
Aliya’s Foods Limited of Edmonton, Alberta, which presents itself as “Proudly Canadian,” set up shop in the North Hall corridor. There the family-owned company headed by President and CEO Noorudin Jiwani welcomed a steady stream of visitors lining up to sample Chef Bombay brand products ranging from Vegetable Pakoras and Beef Samosas to Butter Chicken Naan Cones.
Elsewhere on the fairgrounds, American Halal Co. was handing out samples of Turkish Figs & Goat Cheese and Chicken Tenders, along with other Saffron Road World Cuisine. The Stamford, Connecticut-headquartered company, founded by Adnan Durrani in 2010, offers an expansive menu of Asian-style frozen ready meals that include Indian Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Saag, Thai Lemongrass Basil Chicken, and Korean Bibimbop with Beef.
O Canada, Home of Seafood Specialties
Atlantic Salmon Dices for salmon tartare were enjoyed by show-goers at the stand of Saint Augustin, Quebec-headquartered Fumoir Grizzly. The company, whose business development manager is Jean-François Marcoux, also offered tastes of coho sliced salmon. That product is distributed frozen in tray packs containing ten 65-gram portions, and in 50-portion cases.
Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada-based VIP Seafood took to the floor with a raft of premium frozen seafood products in retail and foodservice packs. Front and center were Lobster Bites, Lobster Mac & Cheese Balls, Seafood Pie, Salmon Fillet with Sauce and the recently launched Lobster Roll Kit.
The Maine Event: Lobster
Hailing from south of the Canadian border in Maine, Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. presented a myriad of fresh-frozen, heat and serve seafood-based products. Among them were award-winning Port Clyde Lobster Mac & Cheese and Seal Harbor Lobster Bisque, along with newly introduced Lobster Hand Pies.
The Topsham-based company, founded in 2000 by third-generation Mainer Cal Hancock, boasts a flavorful menu of “Maine Lobster Made Easy” dishes as well as other items including Coquille St. Jacques, Shellfish Formaggio on the Half Shell, Crab Cakes, and Mussels & Clams in White Wine Garlic Butter Sauce.
End Your Search at Quirch
Jorge Roza, marketing manager for Quirch Foods, promoted a number of brands distributed by the Miami, Florida-based importer and exporter, which expects to ring up more than $1 billion in sales this year. Its frozen range runs the gamut from seafood and beef to pork, poultry, vegetables, fruits, snacks and value-added Hispanic food items.
Under the Panamei Seafood brand, Quirch offers an extensive variety of frozen fare including tilapia, snapper, pollock, whiting and grouper fillets, cooked shrimp, calamari rings, crab claws and salmon. In the frozen tropical fruit field, it has launched a new line under the globally recognized Chiquita brand.
And the Beetnik Goes On
The beat of innovative frozen meals from at Beetnik Foods follows an organic drummer. Among products promoted at the New York show by the Austin, Texas-headquartered company were: Grass Fed Beef Meatballs with marinara sauce, carrots and zucchini; Peruvian Seasoned Chicken Stew with tomatoes, bell peppers and spices; Sesame Ginger Chicken with broccoli, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, spices and white rice; and Grass Fed Beef Stroganoff in sour cream and mushroom sauce with Pappardelle pasta.
Want Veggie Fries with That?
Dave Peters, founder and ceo of Wellesley, Massachusetts-based Healthy Life Brands, was enthusiastically offering samples of Veggie Fries with “classic french fry texture and substantial veggie nutrition” to stand visitors. Presented as a “Revolutionizing French Fries” product line, the non-GMO, gluten-free assortment currently features four flavors: Carrots & Potatoes; Broccoli & Potatoes; Chickpeas, Red Peppers & Potatoes; and Kale, Tuscan Beans & Potatoes. Distribution is in 397-gram retail packages.
IQF Bean Scene
Mike Anderson, president of Lewiston, Idaho-headquartered 13 Foods, was pitching “farm to table healthy plant protein” in the form of fresh-frozen beans. Offered in 16-ounce retail packs are Kabuli Petit Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), Pardina Lentils, Rojo Red Beans, and Torguga Black Beans that can be served as side dishes, snacks, or used in soups or salads.
Ice Cream & Desserts
Frozen confections of all kinds abounded at the show, as did desserts and coffee klatch goodies such as Island Treasures Gourmet Rum Cake. Produced in Woodbridge, Virginia, the hand-glazed cake is made with real rum and contains no trans fats. Available in 32-ounce and mini four-ounce sizes, the product ships frozen and has a shelf stable life of several months once thawed.
An increasing number of ice cream and frozen dairy dessert purveyors focused on “better for you products.” A good example of this was evidenced at the Nutricopia booth, where “nourishing indulgence” Brio brand treats presented as “deliciously rich ice and also nutritionally smart” were dished out. Flavors in the line include Mellow Dark Chocolate, Coffee Latté, Vanilla-Caramel, Tropical Mango and Spring Strawberry.
“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 Montpelier, Vermont-based 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 recently began 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.”
There was ongoing sampling of DF Mavens Diary-Free Frozen Dessert treats at the Fal Foods stand, where folks enjoyed Key Lime Crème, Alphonso Mango, Del Lago Chocolate and Madagascar Vanilla Bean flavors available in retail packs containing four 472 ml cups. The latest offerings join a large range of pints and frozen bars churned out by the Queens, New York-headquartered company.
The DF Mavens brand was created by Malcolm Stogo, regarded as one of the world’s leading ice cream experts, who was driven to formulate a product line that could not be discerned as dairy-free. The successful result may be found at Whole Foods stores, natural foods retailers and restaurants throughout the New York Metropolitan area.
Green Farms, Connecticut-based Figo Brands’ Forte High Protein Gelato comes in chocolate, vanilla, ginger and espresso flavors packed in four-ounce cups. Promoted as “the first ever high protein, low fat, all natural, authentic Italian gelato,” the product range is also high in calcium as each serving provides 45% of the recommend daily consumption value.
The company was founded by former hedge fund manager Adrian Pace, who was born with a congenital heart condition and endured six open-heart surgeries before age 39. After a successful heart transplant operation, he said “farewell” to the pressures of Wall Street and went back to school for a while before entering the gelato manufacturing business.
“My long journey to good health taught me the value of nutrition and how vital protein is for survival. It was this realization that inspired me to create Forte, for everyone who wants to enjoy life and be strong too,” said Pace.
Ramar Foods International, which has been producing Filipino-style premium ice cream since 1972 and frozen Asian cuisine products since 1969, spotlighted its assortment of all natural Magnolia brand tropical ice cream at the Summer Fancy Food Show. Made in the USA with real fruit, the line runs the flavor gamut from Mango and Lychee to Purple Yam, Coconut, Guava, Avocado and more.
Newly introduced by the Pittsburg, California-based company is Kona Coffee Chocodamia Nut ice cream. Other non-tropical fruit items in the assortment include Thai Tea and Azuki Red Bean.
Ramar Foods International also promoted its Kusina brand ready meal offerings at the fair. The frozen Filipino ethnic dishes include Chicken Adobo, Chicken Lumpia, Chicken Empanadas, Chicken Sisig, Vegetable Pancit and Vegetable Lumpia.
Those stopping by the Maeda-en stand savored authentic Japanese green tea ice cream. Founded by Taku Maeda, the company began producing in the USA in 1993, using Matcha green tea powder imported from Japan.
Headquartered in Irvine, California, over the years the Maeda-en menu has expanded significantly to include black sesame, red bean, ginger, mochi ice cream bonbons and more. – Reported by John Saulnier