Crunchy capers from Sicily, lentil rice crispbread from East Hampton, N.Y., and grapefruit lilac water from Westfield, Mass., have made the finalists list for the Specialty Food Association’s sofi Award for Outstanding New Product of 2014.
In all, there were 459 entries for the New Product Award. A national panel of specialty food professionals tasted and evaluated each one last week to come up with 11 finalists for the industry award. The judges also selected six finalists for Outstanding Product Line, which honors a company’s full menu of products.
A sofi represents the best of the best of what the association’s brand slogan, “Craft. Care. Joy.,” represents to the food community—top-quality specialty food. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation.
The contenders will go on to the last round of judging at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. Winners will be announced June 30 at a red-carpet ceremony at the show to be hosted by Dominique Ansel, the award-winning pastry chef.
“The specialty food industry is thriving, and the entries, whether aged goat cheese, sweet and spicy confections, or hand-crafted charcuterie, showed the passion and creativity food manufacturers are bringing to their craft,” says Ann Daw, association president. “The finalists stood out the most in a very crowded field.”
The awards are open to members of the Specialty Food Association, a not-for-profit trade association for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs. The sofi Awards have 32 categories in total. This year, association members submitted a record 2,737 entries to the contest.
Judges included top buyers from Fresh Direct, Whole Foods Market, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Mollie Stone’s Market, DeLaurenti’s Specialty Food & Wine, Kroger, Bristol Farms, Sickles Market, Artisanal Premium Cheese, Chelsea Market Baskets and Caviar & Bananas. The panel also included a food historian, executive chefs from Loi restaurant and Grand Central Oyster Bar as well as journalists from Food & Wine, MarketWatch/The Wall Street Journal, Edible Manhattan, Women’s Health and Cooking Stoned. Part 1 of the competition, judged last month, covered 30 categories from Outstanding Appetizer to Outstanding Vinegar.