The Best of this Summer's Fancy Food Show NYC 2019
TOP 10 PICKS THIS SUMMER
I was invited to cover the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, a consortium of gourmet vendors from around the world. This year was set up to present something special with plant based products in the news. However, I am on the lookout for some really unique food products, which in my opinion are the best in their class.
In my interviews with new startups and legendary food companies, we chose the following top products for their high quality and innovation in their relative space.
10. Vive Organic
Celebrities and influencers have all raved about immune system ginger shots to reboot your immune system or detox the body. After a long day at the show, I was searching for the same and found it at Vive Organic booth. By default, I am a health and fitness nut, do not smoke, drink nor venture into the mainstream world of recreational marijuana. By all definition, from what my children tell me, I am a very boring person.
Vive Organic is one of those companies that has been on the forefront of organic shots, with items such as Wellness Rescue, Antioxidant Detox, Immunity Boost Elderberry and their Original Immunity Boost Ginger shot, which I tried at the show. The shot I taste tested was a concentration of ginger, turmeric, echinacea root and black pepper, which they explained activates the turmeric but also packs a punch. If you have not previously tried these organic shots like me, the taste may seem a bit strong at first, especially the pepper, but I assume as your body gets healthier, so will your pallet. You can taste the raw ginger in the product immediately after you consume the product, not overpowering but just enough. Vive Organic can be found at your local Whole Foods, Sprout and a dozen other retailers in the refrigeration section. You can also go to their website to purchase this product directly.
9. Sabors Das Indias
Selfishly, Brazil has been a destination for me this year at the show, not because our founder’s family is from Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, but it’s more than that. Aside from being the largest exporter of coffee, Brazil has the most exotic and diverse products on earth. I ventured into the Brazilian section, met up with Fernando Spohr, operational manager of Apex-Brasil in North America. He took me on a tour and introduced me to new Brazilian brands that included all-natural ingredients from the Amazon. Sabors Das Indias is one of those companies and if you are a pepper lover, this company blends fine gourmet peppers and exotic fruits into a new culinary experience, from it’s barbecue brand to it’s mission driven Amazon product line. The products are enjoyable with a simple chip and can even be used to marinade chicken and beef. I interviewed the girls of Sabors das India at the show, which you can see here.
8. Motaraz UN1CO
"Ahh Spain, Oh how I miss thee!"
Having lived and traveled as an exchange student in Spain, I was naive to the culinary adventure that awaited me. Granada was my city and like most exchange students, I traveled across the country from the Costa del Sol, to the Sierra Nevada mountains, and to the beautiful countryside of Salamanca where I discovered 100% Pure Ibérico UN1CO Pata Negra, the undeniable king of Jamón pronounced (HAMON), which is the cut of the back leg of the pig, simply named “the black foot”, acorn fed and cured for over 4 years. This is unlike any Jamón in the world you have tried before. By no stretch of the imagination, this is the caviar of pork and perfect on so many levels. Back in the 90’s, when I was in Spain, this product was not accessible to U.S. consumers but Motarar UN1CO, a 125 year old leading provider of this product in Spain, has now come out with a pre-sliced packaged product that is FDA approved and will be available in specialty retailers this year.
When I saw Motarar UN1CO at the food show this year, all those culinary memories came rushing back. You can see my video of our encounter at the end of this article in our video section.
7. Parnon Estate- Organic Greek Olive Oil
Parnon Estate’s story began with a Greek family producing fine olive oil for generations and then things changed, when the patriarch of the family passed away. Helen Kandaras, his daughter stepped in to save the family farm and did so in typical entrepreneurial fashion. The olive farm has always been organic, even before the word organic was trendy. With rainwater feeding groves, the Greek sun nurtured the trees and the air rolling through the landscape. All these factors contributed to this product's distinct bouquet. This is not your typical organic olive oil, everything about it is organic, even the distinct black stain packaging on the bottle, which is made from organic soybean. This product is a perfect gift, situated in a beautiful package with its golden cap. I sampled this product at the show and found it to be smooth, with a touch of peppery undertones, reminded me of someone sampling fine whiskey off the coast of Scotland. This item, with shipping costs $54.00 and will make a great dipping olive oil gift.
6. RAO'S Tomato Sauce
"I know, it’s jarred sauce right?"
Santino Certo, is the Sr. Brand Manager who I met at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC. As I approached his booth, Santino stood and greeted me with a polite hello. My response was not so cordial. I had put my foot in my mouth and blurted out whatever was in my head. “I do not eat jarred sauce (gravy for you hardcore Italians). He smiled responding, “This one is different” and handed me rigatoni with RAO'S tomato basil sauce. What Santino did not know is that we just ventured into sacred territory, by my own DNA. You see, the two most important activities on Sunday in my home consists of going to church and making a homemade pot of red San Marzano tomato sauce, which my grandmother spent 4 hours in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove. However, I was a good sport and took the first bite of RAO'S Tomato Basil Sauce and it dispelled all my belief, that a jar of sauce could taste this good! Made with San Marzano tomatoes, their sauce is a perfect balance that brings out the natural sugars from the tomatoes and low acidity levels from the use of high-quality tomatoes. What I did not know at the time, is that RAO's Restaurant Group has been around since 1869, with coveted locations in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles so I am pretty sure they got this sauce down packed. I can go on but don’t want to bore you with my foodie delight for this product so, instead of spending 4 hours in the kitchen, I would highly recommend this product. Check out their website where you can order the product and lean more about the company.
4. Wagshal’s Imports
Wagshal’s imports represents this patented salad dressing pod for foodies who love their salads. When Fabian Jarrin, operations manager for Wagshal, showed me the product, I thought "This is a great idea!" Personally, I love salads but dislike the over processed, cheap dressings establishments provide. This way, I can have my salad and eat it too! It is a great way to discover a new experience. The thin spout distributes the right amount of dressing over the salad equally. They offer a variety of packages, such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, EVOO Premium, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Sherry Vinegar, Chile flavored, Lemon flavored, Cinnamon flavored and more on the way. Check it out on their website.
The way real meat should taste
In the proverbial world of the fake meat craze, I needed an escape. In my search, I found a company that shares my belief that less is more when curating the best meats. At the show, I was caught off guard as an aroma grabbed hold of my senses and pulled me to meat lover’s paradise. I approached the booth thinking, “another fake meat company,” but much to my delight, it was just what I was looking for! A legendary company from Washington, DC that started off as a delicatessen to power politicians, business leaders and to foodies alike. I was offered there signature brisket, this three-step process, that takes two months to prepare. I took a bit and the meat melted in your mouth, it was really great experience. I interviewed the company on their products, who's collection of curated products stemming mainly from Spain and Japan with fine meats. You can check out there website for more information on how to order.
Organic Baby Food
I was excited when walking into the incubator section of the show. These micro-startups boot strapped their way to the big stage, addressing health and how we start off in life experiencing organic food. One of these companies is Lil’ gourmets, founded by two Kraft Food executives, who came over from the dark side of the overly processed food industry, bringing us something unique to the organic baby and toddler food category. We will be including them in a special segment of our podcast. When I tasted the sample offered to me at the show, it was a refreshing mix between organic fruits and vegetables, with a hint of spice as a sugar substitute. The end product was a perfect balance of flavors to start your baby or toddler off on the right foot in loving vegetables.
2. Elmhurst 1925- Plant based milk
We brought this product back into our testing lab after the show and it was a big hit! I reached out to Elmhurst 1925 and learned how a 90-year-old New York family dairy farmer pivoted in 2017 from a traditional dairy farm, to an entire plant based high quality milk-based company.
This HEMP creamer has 1 g of sugar per serving, Vegan, dairy-free, Carrageenan-free, gluten-free, No artificial flavors, Non-GMO, Kosher, 350 mg Omega-3 ALA per serving. The company’s product milk line consists of Almond, Cashew, Hazelnut, Oat, Walnut. You can find this product at Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, Bristol Farms, Gelson’s, Publix and Fairway Market with more stores being added.
1. Good Planet - Plant Based Cheese
Hold onto your gut, my lactose intolerant foodies, this is not your typical cheese. I stumbled across Good Planet in my search to find a game changer in the plant-based food category. In the world of exploding growth, from companies such as Impossible and Beyond Burger, which are mainly based on soy or pea protein, Good Planet takes another approach. Within four years of R&D, this food startup went in a different direction of being a Soy Free, Vegan, Non-GMO, Nut free, Dairy Free and allergen free based product, made entirely of coconut milk. With flavors in Cheddar (which could make a great Mac & Cheese), smoked provolone, Garlic and Herb, Parmesan, American and hot pepper. If you are into health, without compromising taste my pick would be Good Planet plant-based cheese, available throughout the nation at specialty retailers. Good Planet is ramping up their distribution to larger supermarkets but can also be purchased on the company’s website.