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The 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show Returns to NYC With An Endless Array Of Gourmet Treats

Cary Pollak, Guest Contributor
July 1, 2013

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Whisk and Quill is delighted to welcome guest contributor Cary Pollak a Washington-based attorney, veteran reporter, feature writer and culinary educator.  Cary’s articles have appeared in DC Style, Capitol File and www.DCDigest.com. In addition he is a writer for the National Press Club’s members’ newsletter, The Wire
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After a two-year change of venue to Washington, DC the Fancy Food Show has returned to its West Side digs in the recently renovated Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.  For Communications Director, Louise Kramer, who was delighted with their stay in the nation’s capital, the show’s return to the Javits Center, “was like coming home.”

The show has grown immensely since its inception in 1955 and features over 260,000 innovative specialty food products.  Even with a three-day window it’s almost impossible to cover 354,000 square feet of exhibit space filled with 2400 exhibitors and their exciting products.  Attending the numerous food seminars and cooking demos can present even more of a challenge.

For a retailer on the hunt for new products, a visit to that section of the show is all they’d need.  But for the casual visitor, strolling aimlessly, there’s no sense in racing down the aisles, especially with all the tempting displays of candies and cookies, olives and oils, vegetables, fruits, meats and seafood products set out for sampling.

Bins of Olives and Mushrooms - Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Bins of Olives and Mushrooms – Photo Credit Cary Pollak

When you discover a new product at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or any other supermarket, there’s a good chance it debuted at this show.  The ubiquitously known Perrier, Ben & Jerry’s and Terra Chips are just a few of the thousands of products that have debuted at the Fancy Food Show over the years, so it is especially interesting to search out new offerings there.  Many of the exhibitors highlighted below either introduced new foods or are perennial favorites.

Twice a year the Specialty Food Association announces the winners of the sofi Awards for specialty outstanding food innovation in 32 categories.  One of the most coveted awards is “Outstanding New Product”, and this year two cheeses, Point Reyes Bay Blue produced by the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company in Marin County, CA, and The Fine Cheese Co. Pearls of Pure Goats’ Cheese distributed by Artisan Biscuits Ltd. of Britain and Ireland, tied for first place.  The former stood out for its “fudgy texture and sweet caramel finish,” and was hosted by Farmstead’s Donna Hagan.

Farmstead’s Donna Hagan - Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Farmstead’s Donna Hagan – Photo Credit Cary Pollak

The latter was not much to look at swimming in a bowl of sunflower oil, but a marinade of garlic, herbs and crushed pink peppercorns gave it a distinctive flavor.  For a list of the winners visit http://www.specialtyfood.com/sofi/finalists/2013/.

sofi Award winner from Artisan Biscuits Ltd. - Photo Credit Cary Pollak

sofi Award winner from Artisan Biscuits Ltd. – Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Stories of the sacrifice and determination that go into creating a successful food product abound.  Vanessa Miller of New York City was a primary school teacher when she decided to bottle her delectable salad dressings.  She created a company name, Get Dressed Salads, and though she knew how to obtain the bottles, design a label, and find a production factory, she was short on cash.  Miller got help from the fund raising website www.Indiegogo.com but still had to put up all the money she had as well as sell some of her own jewelry before she had enough to get her project off the ground.  Her dressings are now available at about six local gourmet shops and online at www.abesmarket.com. This was Miller’s first Fancy Food Show and the www.express.com website identified her dressings as one of “eight brands worth a bite” at the show.

Vanessa Miller of Get Dressed Salads - Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Vanessa Miller of Get Dressed Salads – Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Another newcomer to this year’s show was former marketing specialist, Julie Busha, whose Slawsa is a new kind of relish that works well on grilled meats or as a dip.  Busha has foregone starting a family and buying a bigger home, pouring all her profits back into the company for marketing efforts.  Each retail account she landed was as the result of a pitch personally made by Julie, who explained how she would market her brand to move it off the shelf.  Within 18 months her product was selling at 4200 retail outlets.

Julie Busha of Slawsa - Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Julie Busha of Slawsa – Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Owner/chef Alain Sinturel’s popular Trois Petits Cochons produces a line of all-natural paté and charcuterie.  This charming if somewhat stoic gentleman lets the long row of sofi awards atop his display case speak for itself.  The little porkers on the company logo, however, are all smiles.  And why not?  Business has been booming since the company started modestly in Greenwich Village in 1975.  Last year they introduced a new line of pork-free products.  Could that be another reason why the little fellows are smiling?

Alain Sinturel of Trois Petits Cochons - Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Alain Sinturel of Trois Petits Cochons – Photo Credit Cary Pollak

My favorite packaged cookie of all time, Almondina, is a former winner of the sofi for Outstanding Classic.  These crunchy wafers studded with nuggets of almonds and raisins are uniquely delicious.  Other products look somewhat like it, but none can deliver as amazing a taste as Almondina’s.  Grandma Dina had baked these treats in her kitchen in Haifa, Israel.  Grandson Yuval Zaliouk, a world famous former conductor of the London Royal Ballet, orchestrated a business plan and today its Ohio plant produces 200,000 cookies daily.  Dina’s great-granddaughter, Tamar Markham, was proud to display her family’s product.

Tamar Markham of Almondina - Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Tamar Markham of Almondina – Photo Credit Cary Pollak

Although the Fancy Food Shows are open only to the trade, if you have ever thought of starting a business that is any way related to gourmet foods, gaining access to this extravaganza is reason enough give it a try.  It’s the greatest collection of sights and bites you’ll ever come across. 

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