Fifteen confectionary companies and nine chocolate makers were among the 130 companies honored during this year’s Good Food Awards Ceremony.
The Awards, held on Jan. 16.,honored delicious, responsibly produced food, a contemporized version of Good Housekeeping’s Seal of Approval.
Unlike previous years, when pursuits centered on financial return, this year’s winners expanded their efforts to include community growth.
“All of us not only believe that social responsibility and sustainability are as important as incredible taste, but that they create incredible taste,” emphasizes Sean Askinosie, with Askinosie Chocolate.
A common theme among the speakers was that good profits need not be sacrificed to achieve good social and environmental stewardship.
“Being successful and doing the right thing do not have to be mutually exclusive,” explained Dahlia Graham, co-owner of Fruition Chocolate(Shokan, New York). “Luckily, organizations like Seedling Projects, the engine behind the Good Food Merchant’s Guild and Good Food Awards…elevate the industry by increasing public demand for better quality food, and [are] able to help put hidden treasures on the national map.”
This year’s winners were selected from 1,450 entries and, for the first time, from all 50 states during a blind tasting held in September. A thorough vetting process was carried out to verify that companies met the sustainability and social responsibilitycriteriato win a Good Food Award.
Askinosie Chocolate, 62% Dark Milk Chocolate, Fleur de Sel, Missouri
Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker, Madagascar Wild Pepper 70% Dark & Madagascar 70% Dark, Vermont
Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, 72% Belize, Toledo, California
Fruition Chocolate, Dominican 70%, New York
Guittard Chocolate Company, Collection Etienne Eureka Works Meritage Blend #27 | 100%, California
Madre Chocolate, Triple Cacao, Hawaii
Patric Chocolate, Signature 70% Blend & Mocha OMG, Missouri
Rogue Chocolatier, Silvestre, Hispaniola, Balao, Massachusetts
Videri Chocolate Factory, 90% Dark Chocolate Ecuador Camino Verde, North Carolina
Alma Chocolate, Sea Salt Hazelnut Crunch Bar, Oregon
Cacao Art Chocolates, Tupelo Honey and Cardamom, Florida
Chocolats Latour LLC, Rosemary Almond Brittle, Ohio
Coco Delice, Beer Bon Bon, California
Feve Artisan Chocolatier, Hazelnut Crunch Bar, California
Fruition Chocolate, Brown Butter Bourbon Caramels, New York
Kakao Chocolate, Lavender Truffle, Missouri
Nosh This, Almond Toffee, California
Nutty Steph’s, Inc., Salted Caramel Bar, Vermont
Patric Chocolate, Mint CRUNCH Chocolate Bar, Missouri
Sapore della Vita, Caramel Sauce, Florida
Serendipity Confections, Chocolate Covered Butter Caramels with Fleur de Sel, Colorado
Trini Treats, LLC, Coconut Fudge, New York
WR Chocolatier, Mocha, North Carolina
Xocolatl de David, Raleigh Bar & Brown Butter Bar, Oregon
The passionate pursuit of crafting good sustainability produced food is the social driver of our age, not unlike the aspirations of the 1960s counter-culturalistas, says Sarah Weiner, director of the Seedling Projects.
“We are living in a time of great shifts and uncertainty,” she explains. “People are tiring of the accumulation of things, faster, more information, more productivity, and seeking a different way to live. But they need someone to show them the way. A way to cut through the surface and reach human generosity, a thoughtful way, a connected way, a joyful way to live. Food is the way, and you are the poet-revolutionaries to lead us there.”
There were several other noteworthy big — and good — changes for the Good Food Awards, which is in its fourth year.
The awards ceremony outgrew the Ferry Building, where it was located for its first three years, and shifted to San Francisco’s historic Palace of Fine Arts, an architectural remnant from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, resplendent with its magnificent Roman columns.
The event also added a tenth category, oils — as in olive, nut and seeds — due to demand. The chocolate category drew 89 entry products, up 22 percent from last year, and the confectionery category drew 193 products, a little less than last year.
The keynote speakers included Alice Waters (often described as the Mother of the Slow Food movement), Ruth Reichl (author and co-producer of PBS's Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie), Nell Newman (founder of Newman’s Own Organic) and Dr. Zeke Emanuel (co-founder of the Farmers Market at the White House and adviser to President Obama on health care).
The encouragement of producing good food has become critical to this country’s health care. Dr. Emanuel, an oncologist, said,noting that 50 percent of the leading causes of cancer are diet, exercise and smoking.
Following the awards ceremony, a gala reception provided guests with the opportunity to sample some of the award-winning products and meet the men and women who created them.
Rather than selecting an overall national winner, the Good Food Awards honor regional diversity. Winners are drawn from five regions, with up to three per region; hence, up to 15 per category are possible (or more, in case of close scoring). In addition to chocolate and confectionery(Candy Industry Editor Bernie Pacyniak is a member of the Confectionery Committee), eight other food categories were honored: beer, charcuterie, cheese, coffee, oils, pickles, preserves and spirits.
The complete list of 2014 Good Food Award Winners can be found here.
Curtis Vreeland, president of Vreeland & Associates (www.vreelandassociates.com), specializes in confectionery market research. He has been spotting trends in the premium confectionery sector for Candy Industry Magazine for six years.