Congrats!

The results are in! We have a great crop of Silver Finalists for the 2009 sofi™ Awards for Outstanding Specialty Food Products of 2009. Click here for a list.

Brian HillaThe sofi Awards recognize excellence in specialty foods and beverages for products created and marketed by members of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation.

The awards are a big deal for our members—mostly small businesses and virtually all led by people passionate about food–on many levels. Silver Finalists get a swell silver trophy of a chef to show off at trade shows, but much more. In the super competitive world of food retailing, a sofi Silver or Gold Award helps a product stand out.

Needless to say, it is nothing but great to make that call to an NASFT member to tell them their product was picked as a Silver Finalist! Not quite as much fun to tell those who entered the contest that their product, whether a jam, cheese, honey or salsa, did not make the cut. What many of the “non-finalists” don’t realize is that even if their product was not selected, it was still seen up close by our judges and in most cases appreciated for at least some attribute. The judges fill out comment cards for every product entered, so we hope our members at least learn from the experience.

winner_sofi_statue

The coveted sofi chef statue

All products were tasted and evaluated by a national panel of specialty food experts who came to our offices in New York City last week for three full days. I was impressed how much heart they put into the task. Next for the finalists is the Gold Judging at the Summer Fancy Food Show, where the finalists will be evaluated by more than 250 attendees. The results will be announced at the show, and the winners will be getting statue # 2, a gold chef, and lots of additional attention that is sure to pay off in more sales, and more recognition, for quite some time.

Members were permitted to submit up to five products. Yesterday I told Brian Olesen of Colorado Mountain Jam that he had not one but two finalists: Rhubarb Jam and Syrah Wine Glaze. Brian is a farmer with 14 acres of fruit orchards in Western Colorado. He makes the jams in a kitchen right amid his trees. “I’m surprised they selected the rhubarb jam,” he said. “People just don’t make it. Only your grandmother or a farmer would make rhubarb jam.” Of course, that is exactly the point.

The sofi judges look for taste, quality, and products that stand out from the pack.

–Louise Kramer (AKA sofi Director)

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