NEW YORK, April 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Vegan Hot Fudge from Seattle, Wagyu Beef Jerky from Golden, N.M., and Grilled Olives from Central Italy, are among 125 finalists for the Specialty Food Association's sofi™ Awards for the outstanding specialty foods and beverages of 2015.
Winners will be announced June 29, 2015, by Ted Allen, host of Food Network's Chopped, at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. A sofi Award is the highest honor in the $109 billion specialty food industry. "sofi" stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation.
There were 2,715 entries across 32 awards categories, including outstanding chocolate, cheese, and savory snack. The finalists were selected by a national panel of specialty food experts.
The contenders will go on to the last round of judging, which takes place during the Summer Fancy Food Show.
"A sofi means a product, and the people behind it, have arrived," says Ann Daw, president of the Specialty Food Association. This year's finalists represent a devotion to excellence and innovation in specialty food that continues to fuel our industry."
The contest, now in its 43rd year, is open to members of the Specialty Food Association, a not-for-profit trade association for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs.
This year's judges included top buyers from Whole Foods Market, Bristol Farms, Brooklyn Larder, Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurants, Food52 Shop, Kroger, Mouth.com, Williams-Sonoma, Fresh Direct, Brooklyn Larder, Citarella, DPI, Eataly, Formaggio Kitchen, HelloFresh, Chelsea Market Baskets, The Fresh Market and UNFI. The panel also included a food historian, and chefs Sara Moulton of Sara's Weeknight Meals on PBS and Nick Anderer, executive chef and partner, Maialino and Marta restaurants. Journalists on the panel were from Food & Wine, Rodale, The Village Voice, New York Daily News and Fox 5 News.
The panelists, 36 in all, tasted and evaluated the entries over eight days this spring at the Association's offices in New York. For a behind-the-scenes look at the judging, including photos, stats, and trends, view Specialty Food News' live blog coverage .
About the Specialty Food Association
The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs. Established in 1952, the not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,000 members in the U.S. and abroad the tools, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace. The Association (formerly the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc.) owns and produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi Awards. Learn more at specialtyfood.com.
sofi Awards hashtag: #sofiawards
Summer Fancy Food Show hashtag: #sffs15
SOURCE Specialty Food Association