Members of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade seem to have quite a thing for bacon lately. First there was Vosges Haute Chocolate’s chocolate bar with bacon. Then member J&D’s introduced bacon salt, and made a stir at the Winter Fancy Food Show this year by giving away bacon-flavored lip gloss as a promotional item. Now another member, Hatch, Inc., in Atlanta, has given the bacon treatment to a whole new product: peanut brittle.
Sir Francis Bacon Peanut Brittle—there’s a chocolate bar version too–is made with artisan-smoked bacon and peanuts. And it is one of 400+ products that will be tasted by a national panel of specialty food experts in the next two days to select finalists for the sofi Award for Outstanding New Product of 2009.
The sofi Awards recognize excellence in specialty foods and beverages in 33 categories. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation. The sofi for Outstanding New Product is considered by many members of our trade association to be the biggest plum. All the finalist products will be on display at the Summer Fancy Food Show later this month at the Javits Center in New York. Retailers and restaurant buyers will have a chance to taste and judge the finalists. The results will be tallied on the spot by an outside accounting firm. The gold winners will be announced at a special ceremony, complete with red carpet, on June 29.
In the past week the sofi team has tackled a mountain of packages, answered dozens of questions, and fielded countless calls from last-minute types who pleased for one more day to drop off their prized new product. Yesterday, chef Philippe Kaemmerle worked with the sofi team’s culinary manager, Bruce Tanner, to get ready for the arrival of our nine judges this morning at our offices on Wall Street.
Also rolling up her sleeves this week is Kate Larsen, a member of this year’s sofi team. Kate, a graduate of Texas A & M who grew up in San Antonio, Texas, loves trying new food. Her favorites: anything with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, and most any cookie, she told me. “I’ve always loved food. Always. It’s from my dad. He is jealous that I’m doing this,” she said as she set out the product samples for the judges.
–Louise Kramer, NASFT Communications Director, aka sofi Awards Director