Summer Fancy Food Show 2013
Today, the Summer Fancy Food Show, the largest trade show for the specialty food association, wrapped up. Wonder how those products get onto your grocery store shelves or end up in the high-end gourmet shops that you might pop into every once in a while? Some of them start off here as display items on a booth where the item’s creator tries to get a distributor or store owner to sample the product to see if might be a fit for them and their customers.
After being held in Washington, DC the past couple of years, while updates were being made to the Javits Center, the show returned to its home in New York. As I write about New York City local food producers and the items they make, I like to see what they present at this event. It’s kind of a big step to tackle this trade show for a start-up. Many manufacturers go to “walk the show” the year or so before they exhibit to get an idea of the scale of this massive spectacle (it’s huge – 2,400 exhibitors showcasing around 180,000 products) and to get some insights as to how to present their product amidst all the others in their specific category, where there’s usually lots of attention for our eyeballs and tastebuds.
My methodology for exploring the show was to get around to try as many local-area producers as possible to see what new items they had on display. One product that I’m looking forward to trying in the kitchen is The Saucey Sauce Co.‘s tangy-sweet-caramel-y Brown Sugar Ginger Glaze, which they were debuting at the show, along with revamped bottles of their fantastic flavored fish sauces. Eli’s Manhattan, I discovered, has thin, crispy crackers in several varieties, which would be perfect for a cheese tray or to hold appetizers. Another delicious item I’d throw into my shopping cart would be Goodie Girl Tribeca‘s gluten free Crunchy Chaos cookies. Marshmallow, corn flakes, and chocolate chips all melded together in one sweet treat. They were one of the best gluten-free sweets I ate all show, which seemed to feature many GF products.
There were also several things that I tried that had a real kick to them – another food trend I picked up on at the show. Many product lines added items that had some kind of spice or heat to them. The Jam Stand‘s Not Just Peachy, Sriracha Jam, made with JoJo’s Sriracha had a lovely sweet-hot hit that would be perfect as a glaze or as an accompaniment to a cheese platter. The Heat is On by Peanut Butter & Co., which I sampled at the show, was a creamy, peanut butter-spicy blend. This would be a terrific ingredient to use in dips on noodles or to give a pop of heat to any dish. I also tried Kings County Jerky‘s richly-flavorful Mole Jerky with a depth of spice and chocolate. I can’t wait until packages of this are on sale; it’s definitely on my gift list for this year.
Each year, too, the Sofi Awards are given out for the best product in several categories, as voted on by the members of the association. There were a few New York-based companies that saw their hard work rewarded. I was really pleased to see fellow Smorgasburg vendor We Rub You‘s Spicy Korean BBQ Marinade win for Cooking Sauce or Flavor Enhancer – Korean Delights. Their marinades and sauces enhance their sandwiches and lend to their popularity at the area food markets. Chocolat Moderne won for their Avant-Garde Bar Blood Orange Bergamot Flavor in the Chocolate category. The fruit flavors were smoothly blended and delivered a light perfume to the palate. I also enjoyed their Kashmir Spice Dark Chocolate Bar with its exotic aromas and delicate spice notes. In the Soup, Stew, Bean or Chili category, Sarabeth’s Kitchen, a local restauranteur, won for her Legendary Velvety Cream of Tomato Soup, which was, really, velvety and smooth and full of creamy, tomatoey richness.
After walking around the Javits Center for the past three days, looking at, tasting, smelling, and seeing lots and lots of different food products, I found quite a few delicious items that I hope find their way into my neighborhood grocery store. I had a chance to catch up with some of the folks who make some of the terrific food products that I enjoy eating at the local markets in the city, and I made a few new friends and contacts in the industry, as well. The next conference is this winter in San Francisco, but I think I might just do well to rest up until next summer’s event to see what other fantastic new food creations exhibitors decide to display.
Packaged food items left from the trade show were collected by and donated to City Harvest, an organization dedicated to rescuing food to feed New York City’s hungry.