2016 SF Fancy Food Show: 7 Buzz Worthy Food Businesses

fancy food show floor

Every year, we attend the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco looking for the stand outs among 80,000 products on full display. Food/beverage companies launch new products hoping to grab the attention of distributors, retailers, press, and consumers. We narrowed down our focus on foods that caught our eyes and satisfied our appetites. Then, we challenged these companies to give us some creative uses and recipes. They delivered with some surprisingly delicious ideas!


Miyoko’s Kitchen: Dairy Good yet Vegan

About 30 years ago, Miyoko’s Kitchen was founded by a vegan and former cheese fanatic, Miyoko Schinner. Missing the funky, stinky, and creamy dairy-based cheeses, Miyoko set out to create a vegan version. When a close friend mentioned her skepticism, “that’s never going to happen, so what are you going to do?”, Miyoko spent 1 year learning about cheese which resulted in writing a very popular vegan cheese book.

miyoko's kitchen wideshot

Borrowing from classic techniques for cheesemaking using molds, coating in ash, and adding unusual ingredients, Miyoko created a line of cheeses using cashews as a base for products like: Mt Vesuvius Black Ash, Double Cream Chive, and Double Cream Sundried Tomatoes. In 2016, she expanded to include vegan butter. It’s divinely savory, and you can hardly tell the difference between dairy-based butter.

A Miyoko Kitchen favorite is using Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash to make a hot canopy on a croot with a ripe pear and a red wine glaze: http://miyokoskitchen.com/black-ash-pear-crostini/.

Crostini Photo

Photo from Miyoko’s Kitchen


Sierra Nevada Cheese Company Gets Local

Raised on a dairy making solely raw fluid milk, Ben Gregersen decided to improve his craft by returning to his roots in Denmark where he learned the art of European-style cheesemaking. In 1997, Ben partnered up with John Dundun, a longtime friend and dairyman, at Ben’s family dairy – Gregersen Family Creamery. They worked to develop cheese after hours and sell at local farmers markets. When demand rose, their passion for cheese also grew.

sierra nevada cheese case of products

The founders of Sierra Nevada Cheese Company relocated to Willows in 2003 and drafted an impressive line of dairy-based products. Staying true to farmstead practices, they work closely with neighboring farms to feature their premium, grass-fed, non-GMO, and RBST-free milk. Their customer friendly products include the Graziers line, goat Kefirs, yogurt, VAT cultured European butter, and cream cheeses.

Check out their Peach Shortcake recipe featuring their quality products: http://www.sierranevadacheese.com/recipes.php.


Photo from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company


Wine Rayzyn Co., Dried from the Vine

Wine Rayzyn, a 3-generation family-run business, converted their small Napa Valley winery into a vineyard of dried grapes. The patriarch, Chris Cates, was a cardiologist who encouraged his patients to drink a glass of red wine a day for a healthy heart. At Wine Rayzyn, they “leave no grape behind” because they sustainably gather unused wine grapes from neighboring vineyards.

Wine Rayzyn products

These are not just any kind of raisins, but they have a seriously addicting taste and crunch. Having been big fans of grapes, but not of the shriveled kind, we had our first real crush on these wine grapes after sampling them at the Winter Fancy Food Show. With all the antioxidants, polyphenols, and fiber, Wine Rayzyn is naturally a superfood.

It is perfect as a stand alone snack, on top of yogurt, salads, mixed in with a holiday stuffing, cereal, and on a cheese plate paired with wine. A recommended recipe is the quinoa salad with a healthy dose of Wine Rayzyns: Kale RayZyn Salad.

Kale RayZyn Salad Photo

Photo from Wine Rayzyn


Far Leaves Tea: Two for Tea

Founders Donna and Peter met over a cup of oolong tea in Donna’s home country, Taiwan. They shared in the philosophy of mindful living while drinking tea, which drew them to love the industry and each other. In 1998, they began spreading the ideals of “slowing down, paying attention, and savoring life” through their premium loose leaf teas. Now, they are proud to welcome tea lovers to their tranquil tea house in Berkeley. Consumers can purchase white, green, puer, black, and herbal infusions, “teas from all kingdoms” on their website.

far leaves tea wideshot

Tea is not only for drinking, but it is a key ingredient in Donna’s Puer Tea Cake: http://www.farleaves.com/blogs/news/80654081-celebrating-holidays-with-puer-tea.


Photo from Far Leaves Tea


San Francisco Salt Company, Shaking it up!

In 2002, Lee Williamson left his tech management career behind and was inspired to start a spice business after seeing a vendor selling salt at the farmer’s market. San Francisco is a city known for top chefs, fine dining, and accessibility to local produce. To season up the Bay Area’s fresh foods, San Francisco Salt Company offers a colorful array of high quality sea salts from around the world with a selection of flavor profiles. Additionally, sea salts have far greater health benefits than the commercially processed salts.

founder of SF salt co

When we travel internationally, we like to shake up our dishes with spices from other countries. How ironic that some of the highest quality and most unique blends can be found in our hometown of San Francisco!

Lee, the founder, likes sprinkling Red Hawaiian Salt onto vanilla ice cream. He also suggests adding sea salt to chocolate is a decadent way to go! http://www.sfsalt.com/home

SF salt company products


Formosa Hot Sauce: Spicing up the Palate

Julio Lopez came to the United States as an immigrant from Guatemala. He worked his way through the food line starting as a dishwasher, and eventually to a chef position. Julio stepped away from food service to go back to school and build a real estate business. His dedication to food always lingered, so he developed all-natural Guatemalan hot sauces. Along with his brother-in-law, Julio began selling their specialty sauces to South Bay restaurants. When the popularity grew for the products, he knew he had a winning concept.

formosa hot sauce wideshot

While sampling the hot sauces at the Fancy Food Show, we noticed that they were creamy and only mildly spicy. We were surprised when Julio told us that after testing the hot sauces in a lab, they were all vegan/gluten free!

Try out Formosa Hot Sauce as a topping, marinade, a dip, or even in a jalapeño margarita. Julio thinks that the most interesting recipe using his hot sauces is the Formosa Cajun Cream Sauce in a pasta: http://www.formosasauce.com/recipes/.

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Photo from Formosa Hot Sauce


Owl’s Brew, Tea Time with Crafty Cocktails

There’s just something about this company that really struck us – between the great design of their packaging and the perfectly blended tea mixers for cocktails. Jennie Ripps, the founder, already owns a custom organic tea blending company called BrewLab Tea, which services New York restaurants. Drawing from her background, she was interested in mixing tea and botanicals with spirits for a healthier and tastier option instead of using juices and syrups. In 2013, she launched Owl’s Brew to push the boundaries of mixology and has successfully experimented with mixing her blended teas into wine and beer.

owl's brew wideshot

At the Owl’s Brew booth, we tasted the highly coveted Pink & Black blend mixed with tequila. We also were fortunate to try out their new blend, Wicked Green, which adds a spicy kick to any drink. The flavors are enticing and the ease of use is ideal for any budding mixologist.

They even have a super chill Owl’s Brew recipe book that’s loaded with creative ideas for using their products to make specialty drinks and even tea-infused foods. Try out their Coco Brew this winter: http://www.theowlsbrew.com/recipes/index/details/id/18/.


Photo from Owl’s Brew

As we sampled and schmoozed our way through the Winter Fancy Food Show, these 7 buzz-worthy food businesses, gave us more reasons to head to the nearest stores with many uses and recipes that go beyond what’s in the package.

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