Endless Eating at The Summer Fancy Food Show 2023!

gail and chef jacques torres
Nailed It! Me with French Chef and Chocolatier Jacques Torres at SFFS 2023 (All Photos By Gail)

Put on your fat pants, bitches, because we are about to do some serious grazing. The culinary event of the summer has come and gone, leaving our taste buds with memories of euphoric ecstasy. The Summer Fancy Food Show (sponsored by the Specialty Food Association) packed NYC’s magnificent Javits Center for three gustatorily glorious  days in late June.  Boasting an impressive (read: sold out) lineup of over 2,200 makers and manufacturers from six continents, this gastronomic extravaganza showcased the very best of the specialty food and beverage world across a staggering 40-plus categories. It certainly was a lot to digest, but we will do our best to satisfy your cravings for the show’s highlights with our famous Photo Recap. Are you hungry yet?

sffs entry with sofi award statues photo by gail worley
The Specialty Food Association’s Signature Award, The Sofi

Prepare to relive the mouthwatering morsels, the captivating designs, and the clever branding that made the Summer Fancy Food Show of 2023 an unforgettable experience. Feast your eyes on these tantalizing images that will transport you into the heart of an epicurean wonderland where we savor every bite, cherish every sip, and relish in the delights that the world of specialty food has to offer. Bon appétit!

jfc with food shelves photo by gail worley
JFC, Let’s Get to The Food Already

Foodie Favorites

As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of all things delicious, I had the pleasure of attending two days of the show, immersing myself in a whirlwind of flavors and culinary wonders. Armed with an insatiable appetite, and my iPhone ready to capture the magic, I embarked on a mouthwatering mission to uncover the most tantalizing treats that graced the show floor. Here are some of my favorite new products that truly deliver on taste!

armored fresh grilled cheese sandwich photo by gail worley

Do you like grilled cheese? I sure do. For those who don’t eat dairy, plant-based cheese is a popular alternative, and I was super impressed with Armored Fresh almond milk cheese that passes the grilled cheese test with its creamy, melty deliciousness!

armored fresh cheese cubes photo by gail worley

Anything regular cheese can do, Armored Fresh can meet the challenge, with slices for sandwiches and cubes for easy snacking. Yum!

brioche pasquier booth photo by gail worley

Wait, are we in Paris? No, it is just the booth for Brioche Pasquier, makers of delectable baked goods that come packaged fresh and ready for spontaneous indulgence.  Besides the impressive Macaron Trees (more about those later) we loved the Emily in Paris step-and-repeat and the free samples of tiny buns stuffed with Nutella that we took home!

brioche pasquier beignets photo by gail worley

C’est is bon!

cest gourmet photo by gail worley

I’m such sucker for the carbs! C’est Gourmet has been one of our favorites for years, with their ready-to-bake croissant dough that will make you look like a master pastry chef! Do these treats taste as good as they look? Mai oui.

cultured butter by pepe saya photo by gail worley

Is it weird to admit that one of my the best things I put in my mouth across two days of SFFS was a bite of crusty baguette, slathered with this Australian Cultured Butter by Pepe Saya? Because it was.

serendipity frozen hot chocolate photo by gail worley

Chocolate lovers: you have not lived until you have experienced a Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity. If you can’t make it to their NYC café, you can buy the mix in stores and online to enjoy at home!

whoa dough photo by gail worley

I write about lots of gluten-free foods on this site, and my assessment is generally that gluten-free foods are perfectly fine if the alternate version is a no-go. However, with Whoa Dough gluten-free ready-to-bake cookie dough, I swear that the baked version tastes closer to “the real thing” than any other cookie of this type that I have tasted. Just being serious.

whoa dough cookies, photo by gail worley
My Testimony: These Cookies Taste as Good as They Look

Whoa Dough also makes snack bars for grab-and-go convenience!

lamagna soft cheeses with fruit photo by gail worley

Whether you’re a master of holiday entertaining, or you simply like to have nice things for yourself, let me emphasize that La Clare Creamery  is the last word in gourmet spreadable goat cheese.  I sampled the Cranberry Cinnamon, the Blueberry Vanilla and the Pumpkin-infused creamy goat cheese spreads, and am now a die-hard fan! You must have this cheese  on your holiday table!

laclare cranberry soft cheese photo by gail worley

A closer look at this luscious cheese log: clearly, resistance is futile.

alexandras pierogis and blintzes photo by gail worley

Anyone who knows me knows that pierogi and  blintzes are a couple of my go-to-comfort foods, so an extended stop at the  Alexandra Foods booth was a must.  A family-run business specializing in the production of traditional Eastern European frozen foods, Alexandra’s has been in business in the same Chicago suburb for over 30 years. You can taste the reasons why.

alexandras blintzes photo by gail worley

Check out these blintzes! The samples seen above are just half a blintz, so you can see they are huge.  What’s important though is that they totally taste homemade, with delicate, thin crepes rolled around a creamy mixture of sweet cheese and fruit or chocolate — and their Chocolate Hazelnut & Cheese variety (which I had to try) is a 2023 Gold Sofi Award winner! Eat them!

alexandra foods pierogi photo by gail worley

Alexandra’s fat and fabulous pierogi come in 18 delicious varieties which are calling out to you now (I can hear them). Shop Alexandra Foods online at This Link.

mochidoki signage photo by gail worley

Are you familiar with Mochi Ice-cream? If not, it’s a traditional Japanese ice-cream delicacy that consists of a small blob of ice-cream surrounded by a mochi (rice dough) shell, and it is pretty darn tasty. Mochidoki is a gourmet artisanal brand of mochi ice-cream treats that has a few retail outlets in the city, but their product can also be found in your local grocery store. Hallelujah.

cake batter mochidoki photo by gail worley

When it came time for sampling, I chose Mochidoki’s Cake Batter flavor, but was so hard to pick just one flavor,  as there are so many, and each one is just insane.  There are numerous reasons to eat a Mochidoki — great taste, natural ingredients, variety — and if you are someone who pays attention to portion control, one Mochidoki has just 90 calories or less!

whitney of mochidoki photo by gail worley

Meet Mochidoki’s lovely Social Media Manager,  Whitney, who agreed to pose for this photo after I pointed out that the swag pens they gave away in their booth matched the colors of her hair and t-shirt. Random!

candy filled toys display at kgr distribution photos by gail worley
Candy-filled Toys Display at KGR Distribution

Dazzling Displays

When it comes to food, taste is obviously the most important factor; but it doesn’t matter how great your product tastes if people don’t stop at your booth. That’s why visual marketing and booth design are so crucial. This recap wouldn’t be complete without diving into the visual feast that SFFS delivers at every turn.

el guapo bitters booth photo by gail worley
Best Overall Booth Design Goes to El Guapo Bitters

The design aspect of the show is always an absolute delight to behold, with booths adorned in eye-catching displays and a charming array of adorable brand mascots at the ready. I made sure to capture the essence of these stand-out booths, ensuring that their creativity and innovation get the shout-out they deserve.

belliwelli pink booth photo by gail worley

The Pinkest Booth award goes to the crew at BelliWelli Snacks, who bake  delicious gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar snack bars that are certified low FODMAP (the carbohydrates that trigger  gut distress).

belliwelli snack bar photo by gail worley

Probiotics that taste great, what a concept!

pain is good booth photo by gail worley

Hot Sauce brands really know how to get the message across. Pain is Good‘s booth gets everything right with this  instantly-engaging graphic of three guys whose faces say that the brand’s painfully delicious hot sauces, wing sauces, drink mixers, snacks, and other unique products will make you a true believer. Pain is Good, indeed!

mr kipling booth display photo by gail worley

Most Psychedelic Booth award goes to Mr. Kipling Cakes (from the UK, of course!) for their Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired display full of tiny delicious cakes that whisper “Eat Me!”

mr kipling cakes display photo by gail worley

Mr. Kipling’s friendly brand representative referred to their perfectly portioned cake treats as “Emergency Cake,” which I totally get.

natural blonde bloody mary mix photo by gail worley

Sometimes, you don’t need any bells and whistles to create a visually engaging display. Emphasizing the special blend of locally-sourced Valencia Gold and Carolina Gold Tomatoes that give Natural Blonde Bloody Mary Mix its fresh and uniquely delicious taste, all they needed were a few gorgeous “blonde” tomatoes, the product itself, and a garnish for the drink, all presented on  a rustic wooden platter. Fabulous!

macaron tree from savor patisserie photo by gail worley

Here’s another must-have-in-the-booth visually irresistible Macaron Tree from Savor Patisserie.

walkers short bread booth display photo by gail worley

Also making a tower-like structure out of tasty baked goods, we have the Walker’s Shortbread booth and its biscuit-built Empire State Building! Masterful!

brie cheese cake by cypress grove cheese photo by gail worley

Hats off to this Brie Cheese Cake created by Cypress Grove Cheese.

blasquez jamones ibericos display photo by gail worley

Blázquez Jamones Ibericos knew how to make their booth stand out among possibly hundreds of vendors of Spanish Iberico Ham. They showcased their product on this tiny gold Statue of Liberty (augmented with a fanned skirt) which slowly twirled around, for the best use of a kinetic display in all of Javits Center. It doesn’t hurt that their ham tastes exceptional.

british phone booth photo by gail worley

If you really want the customers to come calling, put a life-size British  Red Telephone Box in your booth. This certified-selfie-spot sat adjacent to a row of British Cheesemakers.

shafts blue cheese olives display photo by gail worley

Shafts Cheese and Co., makers of Blue Cheese-stuffed Olives, knows  that the best way to get folks to try their product is to put a bar in booth that cranked out tiny martinis at a pretty steady clip. Day Drinking!

shafts blue cheese olives martinis photo by gail worley

Mmm . . . Delicious Olives . . .

cape herb and spice booth photo by gail worley

Of all the people who approached the booth for Cape Herb & Spice, how many do you suppose stopped to ask why the Chile pepper was doing a sit-up? Answer: All the people. Turns out that this image was inspired by one of their popular flavors: Chile Crunch! Oh, the cleverness.

cape herb and spice labels photo by gail worley

Clearly, their marketing person deserves a raise.

cinnamom gourmet cinnamon rolls display photo by gail worley

Props go a long way to improve the eye-magnetism of a booth, and they don’t have to be expensive. Cinnamom Gourmet Cinnamon Rolls probably spent $5 on that little ceramic sundae-in-a-cup behind the apparently gluten-free rainbow-sprinkled cinnamon roll,  but dang if it doesn’t tie the entire display together. Mad props on the props.

chingonas shake seasoning display photo by gail worley

The owner of Chingonas Salsa Macha told me that whenever he and his wife go to Mexico,  they pick up a couple of Day of the Dead-themed souvenirs to have on hand for decorating their trade show booths. Planning: you are doing it right!

faro mexican chiles display photo by gail worley

Veracruz-based Empacadora del Golfo de México brought along this insanely adorable little Gaucho guy to help sell their Faro line of prepared Chile peppers and sauces. And just look at that table cloth! I am dead now, from the cuteness.

vegan brand chestnuts mascot photo by gail worley

Although I was informed that it was not an official mascot, this Asian brand of Chestnuts somehow managed to find a tiny crocheted chestnut with a face (yes, I just typed that) to entice cuteness addicts to their booth. Great success!

maurys hive tea bee booth display photo by gail worley

In addition to their hive-shaped boxes, Maury’s Hive Tea has a little smiling  Bee mascot to remind you that each tea bag contains the perfect blend of soothing tea infused with premium honey, for your perfect cuppa.

dumpling daughter product display photo by gail worley

The award for Cutest Mascot must go to Dumpling Daughter,  makers of truly scrumptious dumplings and pork buns, for their anthropomorphic plush dumpling, with its pouty red lips and tiny red shoes.

dumpling daughter mascot photo by gail worley

OMG, so cute.

texas tamale company mascot photo by gail worley

Meet Tex the Tamale, the human-sized mascot for Texas Tamale Company! Buy their tamales or he will haunt your dreams forever.

mac n cheese head ad photo by gail worley
What is This? Who Knows?

Best Branding

We can’t ignore the power of branding and how it weaves its magic in the world of specialty foods. From the clever product names that make us chuckle, to the packaging that seduces us with its visual allure, and the slogans that whisper promises of culinary bliss (especially the ones that are a bit cheeky), brand identity plays a vital role in capturing our curiosity and winning our hearts (and stomachs). Check out these brands that are winning the game in their own unique way!

squee booth photo by gail worley
Team Squee

One of the most innovative and surprisingly charming products of the entire show could be found in the booth manned by Finland’s  Team Squee. First of all, there’s the name: Squee, which brings instant happiness as it rolls off your tongue. Squee! Seriously: Best, Name. Ever. But what exactly is Squee?  It turns out,  it is pretty heavy.

squee product photo by gail worley
Taste The Squee

Squee is an extremely versatile, sustainable and — best of all — delicious plant-based mycoprotein that is revolutionizing food technologies and food concepts within the industry.  It has an appealing umami and its flavor can be enhanced with a wide variety  other natural ingredients. I loved the little sample I tasted (seen above) plus the team was super enthusiastic and friendly. I encourage you to read more about the science and concepts of Squee at This Link.

happy shrimp chips photo by gail worley

If you know anything about advertising, then you know that packaging does all the heavy lifting when it come to sales, so you have to make it count. Perfect example: Happy Shrimp Chips, made with wild shrimp and flavored with garlic and butter. The bag tells you everything you need to know. A+!

laverland crunch banana seaweed chips photo by gail worley

Laverland Crunch somehow managed to license the likeness of the Minions to promote their Banana-flavored Seaweed Chips. Score: A Direct Hit.

zestos tortilla chips bag photo by gail wortley

Does the owner / founder of your brand have a unique look? Put his likeness on your bag! Zestos 1970’s Pub-Style Seasoned Tortilla Chips (a Koeze brand) features a cute little caricature of founder Scott Koeze on every package, for an instant conversation starter!

henrietta said spicy peanuts photo by gail worley

Henrietta Said has a super-specific product:  Spicy peanuts flavored like exotic Chicken Wing sauces. Each bag features a peanut anthropomorphized to represent that flavor. They deserve all your spicy snacks business.

ffups tasty tubes photo by gail worley

Packaging of the Century award goes to FFFUPS Tasty Tubes. I don’t even know where to start with how genius their marketing is, so I’ll just say that FFFUPS taste delicious (think: cheese puffs or other puffed corn snacks)  and that is reason enough to buy them.

pork king good packaging photo buy gail worley

Pork King Good: it sounds dirty, right? Because that is the idea. It looks like they come in some outstanding flavors, so if you love Pork Rinds, this is the brand to buy.

bada bing cherries photo by gail worley

Calling All Sopranos Fans: Have you tried Bada Bing Cherries from Stonewall Kitchen? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t buy them based on the name alone, because of course you would.

stefos fish shaped package photo by gail worley

If you did not already know that Bottarga is a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe pouch, then you would at least guess by the shape of these sample packages that this product by Greek company Stefos contains some kind of fish product. And you would be correct.

good hair day pasta packaging photo by gail worley

Here’s a show-stopper in the packaging department: Good Hair Day Pasta. I bet people buy this as gifts and the recipients never eat it but just leave it on display in the kitchen. That’s what I would do.

molly bs hot mess photo by gail worley

Moving on to some sweet stuff, I’m willing to wager that you’ve never tasted cookie flavors like those baked by Molly Bz Cookies. Case in point: the Hot Mess, which takes a sugar cookie base, adds mango chunks and white chocolate chips, and then liberally sprinkles Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust over the entire thing. Yes, it exists.

bobos dipped bars photo by gail worley

Bobo’s makes healthy snacks that also tastes yummy. Plus, Bobo is a nickname I have for my dog, so Bobo’s Dipp’d Oat Bars gets to be in the recap!

butternut mountain farm syrup photo by gail worley

The Holidays season is coming up sooner-than-you-think, and food is always the perfect gift. Wouldn’t maple syrup in a bottle shaped like a snowman or gingerbread man (and wearing a tiny hat) be a fun thing to give a neighbor or coworker? Butternut Mountain Farm can help you out with that.

too good gourmet snowmen candy jars photo by gail worley

Add these assorted candies in jars stacked to look like happy snowmen to your list as well. You’ll find them at Too Good Gourmet.

billie eilish chocolate bar photo by gail worley

We’re going to close out this rambling road of a recap with some interesting chocolate bars. This one tastes like Pop Star Billie Eilish!  Just kidding! It is, however, her own branded Vegan Chocolate Bar released to coincide with her latest album, Happier Than Ever, and reviews say it tastes pretty great.

dirty cow chocolate bars photo by gail worley

Plant-based chocolate is very popular right now, and here’s another brand getting into the act with a name that sounds like a saucy  insult but is actually quite fun: Dirty Cow Chocolate. Don’t you want to know what an XXXmas Pudding Chocolate Bar tastes like? I know I do .

le chocolate de francais elvis wrapper photo by gail worley
Elvis Chocolate Bar Wrapper by Le Chocolat des Francais

And with that, we’ll say Thank You Very Much to the Specialty Food Association and all the Exhibitors for another fantastic show! See You Next Year!

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