sofi Gold Awards Announced

The winners of the 39th sofi Awards for the outstanding specialty foods and beverages of the year were announced July 11 by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) at the Summer Fancy Food Show.

The awards were presented at a red-carpet ceremony hosted by Celebrity Chef Cat Cora. A sofi Award is considered the highest honor in the $70-billion specialty food industry. "sofi" stands for specialty outstanding food innovation.

The 2011 sofi Gold Winners are listed below:

Appetizer, Antipasto, Salsa or Dip - Sullivan Harbor Farm Smokehouse - Dave's Bacon

Baked Good, Baking Ingredient or Cereal -Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc. - Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Cheese or Dairy Product - Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company - Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese

Chocolate - Vosges Haut-Chocolat - Black Salt Caramel Bar

Classic - Savannah Bee Company - Tupelo Flute

Cold Beverage - Brands of Britain - Fever-Tree Ginger Ale

Condiment - The Gracious Gourmet - Spiced Sour Cherry Spread

Confection -- TIE - Bequet Confections - Bequet® Butterscotch Caramel and Theo Chocolate - Ghost Chili Caramels

Cookie - Tate's Bake Shop - Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Cookie

Cooking Sauce or Flavor Enhancer - Stonewall Kitchen - Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce

Cracker - Kitchen Table Bakers - Sesame Parmesan Crisps

Dessert or Dessert Topping - Ciao Bella Gelato Company - Belgian Chocolate S'mores Gelato

Diet and Lifestyle Product - Nueske's Applewood Smoked Meats - Nueske's Wild Cherrywood Smoked Uncured Bacon

Food Gift - Tea Forte - Teas for the Heart

Frozen Savory - Dufour Pastry Kitchens - Mushroom Truffle Risotto Phyllo Flower

Hot Beverage - Chuao Chocolatier - Spicy Maya Hot Chocolate

Innovation in Packaging Design or Function - Ajiri Tea Company - Ajiri Tea: Kenyan Black Tea

Jam, Preserve, Honey or Nut Butter - Braswell Food Company - Braswell's Select Balsamic Sweet Onion Jam

Meat, Pate or Seafood - FERMIN USA –Fermin Iberico Dry Cured Ham

New Product - GarLic it! - Private Reserve Caramelized Garlic Finish

Non-Food Specialty Item Culinary Papers - PaperChef Culinary Parchment Cooking Bags

Oil - Culinary Collective - Castillo de Canena Family Reserve Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pasta Sauce - La Pasta, Inc. - Marinara Sauce

Pasta, Rice or Grain – Nuovo Pasta Productions, Ltd. - Spinach, Portabella & Gruyere Ravioli

Perishable Foodservice Product - Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. - Lobster Risotto on the Half Shell

Pet Product - DOGSWELL - VEGGIE LIFE VITALITY Chicken & Sweet Potato

Product Line - Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. - Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. Retail Product Line

Salad Dressing - Chaparral Gardens - Blackberry Balsamic

Shelf-Stable Foodservice Product - TIE - Dulcet Cuisine - Mild Indian Curry Ketchup and Kitchen Table Bakers - Aged Parmesan Crisps

Snack Food - Anette's Chocolates - Chili Lime Tequila Tortilla Brittle

Soup, Stew, Bean or Chili - Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. - Orr's Island Oyster Stew

USDA Certified Organic Product - Plum Daisy - Colorado Mountain Organic Mixed Berry Jam

Vinegar - South African Consulate General - Rozendal Botanical Vinegars - Rozendal Hibiscus Vinegar.

This year was the most competitive sofi competition yet, with a record 2,326 entries across all 33 awards, including 464 entries for Outstanding New Product. This spring, a national panel of specialty food experts narrowed the field to 125 Silver Finalists in five days of judging at NASFT offices in New York City. In the past two days, more than 200 buyers at the Summer Fancy Food Show tasted and evaluated the finalist products and cast votes to select the gold winners. The results were tabulated by an outside accounting firm this afternoon. The Summer Fancy Food Show ends tomorrow, July 12.

"A sofi Gold Award is a seal of excellence that is widely recognized by discerning retailers and restaurateurs around the world," says Ann Daw, president of the NASFT. "This year's winners stand out as great examples of the creativity and commitment to quality that are the foundation of the specialty food industry."