Fruit gels from Hawaii, Sriracha popcorn from Washington state, and beet yogurt from New York all made the finals in the Specialty Food Association’s 2014 sofi Awards contest.
A sofi award, which is an acronym for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation, is considered the highest honor in the $88 billion specialty food industry. A national panel of specialty food professionals tasted and evaluated 2,025 specialty foods and beverages across 30 categories to come up with their list of 109 finalists.
Winners will be announced at a red-carpet ceremony June 30, 2014, at the Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. The event will be hosted by Dominique Ansel, the noted pastry chef.
“Creativity, innovation, and excellence were in evidence across all awards categories,” says Association President Ann Daw. “The finalists reflect the best of the craft, care, and joy our members bring to the specialty food they create.”
The awards are open to members of the Specialty Food Association, a not-for-profit trade association for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs.
Judges spent five days selecting finalists. 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, and Artisanal Premium Cheese. The panel also included a food historian, executive chefs from Loi restaurant and Grand Central Oyster Bar, and journalists from Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Edible Manhattan and Cooking Stoned.