Today was the first day of the 2007 Fancy Food Show at McCormick Place. Since 1955, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s (NASFT) Fancy Food Shows have been the premier marketplace for specialty foods. It’s where specialty food retailers, restaurateurs, supermarket and department store buyers, gift shop owners and others discover distinctive, profitable new food products to grow their businesses.
Recent Fancy Food Shows have attracted from 19,000 to 32,000 attendees from specialty food, wine, gift and department stores, supermarkets, restaurants, mail-order and other related businesses. These attendees come to see more than 1,800 exhibitors from around the world, presenting more than 150,000 specialty foods to discover and sample. What’s at the Show:
- Over 350 domestic exhibitors from around the country. In one place at one time, you can discover new lines and items to add new distinction and appeal to your establishment. Most exhibitors are entrepreneurs who developed the recipe and started the company, so you can learn about the products and do business with decision-makers. And at this Spring Show, you’ll find many local Midwest exhibitors with regional or ethnic products.
- International Pavilions presenting exotic new specialty foods from all over the world.
- A wealth of Special Events. Previous events included Chef Cooking Demonstrations and a Beer and Cheese Tasting.
- Focused Exhibits® offer you a targeted area where you can find products that appeal to a certain segment of trade.
- Focused Exhibit categories: What’s New?, Gift Avenue, Natural and Organic Foods, Kosher Foods and Foodservice Spoken Here.
- Focused Tastings® offer you a chance to taste and compare products in three hot categories, such as Olives and Olive Products, Salsa or Tea.
- Seminars and Workshops. The NASFT presents up to a dozen seminars, four workshops and several events at each Fancy Food Show.
From the show I left with a full belly after all the food sampling and several publications on the food trade & industry:
Here are just a few of the items I had the chance to try at the show… and also struck me for their uniqueness and interesting food concepts:
Jones Pure Cane Soda offers several interesting flavors – especially during the holidays. Their Thanksgiving and Halloween limited edition flavors include: Wild Herb Stuffing, Pumpkin Pie, Candy Corn and even Caramel Apple. Another fun thing to note are the labels… consumers can submit their own pictures that may find their way on a Jones Soda label one day!
Dancing Deer Baking Co. is known for their fresh baked (and Kosher) goodies. All of their products are all-natural and delicious! They are a company of people who are passionate about food, nature, aesthetics and community. I enjoyed trying their baked goods and look forward to finding them at local stores. They currently only work with distributors so I encourage folks to check for store locations in your area to try them out. (Location finder is in the web link above.)
Kettle Cuisine creates prepared soups that are ready to eat. What struck me about this company was the various flavors they offer. Some soups that caught my eye and tastebuds include: Strawberry Soup with Champagne & Lime; Shrimp & Roasted Corn Chowder and Carrot Ginger….all of which were very good. This company does not offer direct purchasing, however you can do a search on their website for locations in your area to buy them. I also think their product line provide some great inspiration in creating or finding soup recipes to enjoy all year round.
SconesWILD is a company that strictly focuses on scones and boy, they do it well. Most scones I have tried are dry and meant to be eaten with coffee. But SconesWILD is so moist, buttery and flavorful that coffee isn’t needed. They offer a few flavors such as cranberry orange, blueberry, chocolate chip and a few more. Unfortunately, these wonderful scones are only available to folks in Chicago, but hopefully they will be available nationwide in the future…. or maybe you just need to visit Chicago to have a taste!
Country Garden Cuisine Comfort Foods reflects the elegance and flavors of fine dining in their collection of gourmet dips, soups, breads and desserts… Sun dried Tomato Dip, Tuscany Peasant Soup and Cherry Vanilla Scones – just to name a few. You can order their products directly from their website link above. One of my faves from their product line is the Cilantro Lime Dip… perfect for summer picnics!
Java Pop– We all have heard about fair trade coffee… but Java Pop takes it to a whole new level by creating fair trade organic coffee sodas. They currently produce 5 unique flavors using fair trade organic coffee and sweetened with pure cane sugar. Highly interesting, I sampled the hazelnut flavored Java Pop and it was surprisingly refreshing! You can buy Java Pop online directly from their website link above and for $4.99/4 pack, it is a neat drink to try.
Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods – Maya Kaimal is an award-winning cookbook author and a leading authority on Indian cooking. Her first book Curried Favors: Family Recipes from South India won the Julia Child award for best first book. Her second book, Savoring the Spice Coast of India: Fresh Flavors from Kerala, focused on the food of the region of South India where her father was raised. She has been a guest on the Today Show, the Food Network, Martha Stewart, and the Splendid Table, and has written feature articles for Food & Wine and Saveur.
I enjoyed trying the Tikka Masala sauce – it was extremely flavorful without that packaged taste that I’ve experienced with other brands. You can purchase her products through a link on the website above or check out the locations in your area carrying her products.
PB Loco – This was my absolutely one of my favorite exhibitors at the show. If you love peanut butter, this company will feed your addiction easily. PB Loco has taken peanut butter to a whole new level by creating flavors adults will enjoy. Your days of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches have grown up after trying out their amazing flavors such as peanut butter with jungle banana, peanut butter with raspberry white chocolate and even savory ones like peanut butter with asian curry spice. Thankfully, you can start feeding your PB addiction by ordering their products online through the website link above. I’m already craving a peanut butter with jungle banana sandwich. 🙂
Stirrings – Do you ever wonder how those upscale bars and lounges create mouth watering martinis and cocktails? Well, it appears many bars and lounges use the cocktail mixers and rim garnishes that Stirrings produce. They have a tasty line of mixers that use real fruit juices and cane sugars. I loved the pomegranate martini I tried and I soon had visions of myself hosting summer parties with quite a few of their drink mixes. Why go to a bar for the same drinks you can create at home? Stirrings definitely allows you to do that and you’ll be known to have the best drinks around! Products can be bought at your local Cost Plus World Markets, Sur la Table, Whole Foods and Le Gourmet Chef stores.
Pelican Bay Ltd. – If there was an exhibitor that got the cutest packaging award, it would go to Pelican Bay Ltd. The packaging is whimsical, colorful and festive. Maybe it was the mini shovel spoon I used to spread some garden veggie dip from a clay pot serving bowl… but their products are also very good. Their extensive product line now includes a variety of mixes, including children’s baking mixes, cookies, scones, breads, pies, cakes, cappuccinos, hot chocolates, holiday teas, summer sparklers, tropical fruit fizzes, Chai mixes, iced teas, lemonade, holiday beverages, fondue mixes, spices, barbecue rubs, stuffing, cheese spreads and dipping herbs. You can purchase their products directly through their website link above and even order a catalog. Not only would I purchase their items for holiday gift giving, but also use their products as inspiration to create my own homemade kitchen gifts.
Nashville Wraps – This company has some great packaging ideas, color schemes and wrapping products I’ve ever seen. If you are hosting a party, wedding, or even a shower, this is where I would like to get some items to wrap favors, food treats, etc. They also offer some gourmet foods but packaging is their forte. Products can be ordered directly on their website link above.
Hope you enjoyed my short review of products… and I encourage you to check them out!
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