Monday, July 7, 2014

Fancy Food Show 2014: Good Eats, Great Peeps!

By: Anne M. Raso and Finance Foodie

I've been attending the Fancy Food Show since the 90s and I have to say it is about the most fun you can have sampling food! You flit from booth to booth, meeting food vendors--some that have been established for 150 years and some that are new and looking for distributorship in this country! There were a few manufacturers I particularly liked, and as you can see from my choices, I love everything from spicy Sunday Sauce to Butternut Squash Lite Bites!

My first stop this year was Bongiovi Sauces. Mr. John Bongiovi (yes, he's the father of that famous rock star from New Jersey) and his son Anthony were there at the booth meeting and greeting everyone, and even raffling off a guitar signed by that other Jon Bon Jovi! Mr. Bongiovi told me that his sauces are true to what he really makes at home and that his recipes were not something made up in a test kitchen. I tried the Arrabiata and it had a beautiful kick--I plan to purchase this in the future. Mr. B also makes great Garden Style and marinara sauces. Also, I have to note that you can see that a lot of Bon Jovi's great looks came from his dad, who reminds me a little of Dean Martin! For more info, go to
Bongiovi Sauces
I also loved the maple syrup at Crown Maple —it comes from an 800-acre farm in Duchess County, New York. They served their high quality maple syrup free and also in drinks. They handed out simple "maple in a minute recipes" along with their "taste tests" including a super easy maple-glazed carrots dish and spicy lemonade I want to make at home! These people truly are the maple experts! (For more info, go to
Crown Maple 
Garden Lites are available at Whole Foods and possibly make the best-tasting organic frozen foods out there. Last year, they were kind enough to send me samples but I had to run over to their booth at the Fancy Food Show to get a taste of my all-time favorite by them (Butternut Squash Soufflé) and their brand-new Italian Bake. Which is high protein and I predict will become a big family favorite. For more info, go to
Garden Lites
For those who love super-creamy yogurt but want it totally vegan and not too sweet tasting, I have to recommend Co Yo, whose slogan is "Heaven In A Mouthful." It comes here from the UK and is made with coconut milk. All flavors were on hand to be tasted by anyone who visited the Co Yo booth but the Mixed Berry is the mind-blower (at least in my opinion). Celebrities including Rihanna are singing its praises and it's only 150 calories per 100 gram serving with no sugar at all. The natural sweetness comes from the coconut milk. For more info, go to www.coyo.US.
Co Yo
How happy was I to see my pal Angelique who runs Divine Delights of Petaluma, CA, the country's foremost petit four maker for every occasion? Really happy, especially since I got to eat one of her chocolate covered little cakes while I was there! She gave me the inside scoop on how they have changed the designs on their Christmas and Halloween petit fours. It was impossible to make these little beauties even cuter, but they did! For more info, visit
Divine Delights 
I fell in love with Marich Confectionery the minute I visited their booth and had to try at least ten of their products—and I blame them for part of the seven pounds I gained from one day at the Fancy Food Show, LOL! These folks from Hollister, CA are proud of their high quality chocolate and their Natural Chocolate Strawberries are to die for. Their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Chocolates seem to be a real crowd pleaser at the show, and I plan to try all their caramel products including the highly touted English Toffee Caramels. For more info, go to You’ll love their numerous products made with Espresso beans as well!
I always have to go say hi to the president of Rao’s Specialty Foods, Sharon Straci and her cordial husband Ron. They give me the inside scoop on the new Rao’s products coming out and even sometimes the legendary restaurant near East 116th that they are part owners of. Mrs. Straci developed a Sensitive Formula Sauce for people like her who are allergic to garlic and onions and there is also a new killer artichoke sauce which I tried on a pizza made with fresh mozz. I loved both of these new items and I’m so happy that Rao’s Specialty Foods are available in mainstream supermarkets across the country, including Gristede’s here in New York. For more info, to go
I love the quality, packaging and charm of Stonewall Kitchen products, and this famous company had their Holiday 2014 gift sets on display. They were dazzling and I was pleased to find out from the staff working the booth that it’s the owner’s handwriting on every label. I love that touch of “realness” on their products, which extend from world-class homemade jams to natural cleaning products. I keep waiting for Manhattan to get one of their bricks and mortar stores, but for now I will have to be content buying their products at Williams-Sonoma. Their Kitchen Pancake & Waffle Mix blows all others out of the water (or maple syrup, as the case may be)! For more info, go to
Stonewall Kitchen
Finally, I had to check out the award-winning organic hard candies of Torie & Howard. They were introducing their new Meyer Lemon & Raspberry flavored candy at the Fancy Food Show and both were delicious and tasted like fresh fruit just picked off the vine. Such natural tasting hard candy is something that the candy market has long needed. The Torie & Howard hard candies are only 12 calories each and they contain no preservatives, casein, soy or gluten. Their packaging is quite beautiful--you can buy travel size round tins featuring old-fashioned paintings of the fruits featured in the candies. For more info, go to
Torie and Howard
Last but not least, I checked out the Way Better Snacks booth, a new company known for adding sprouted whole grains & seeds to a tortilla chip line and had a chance to sample both the sprouted corn tortilla chips and their new Heritage Grains Pita-ahh Chips, which are made with sprouted red fife and and spelt. Super delicious and didn't even taste nutritious - I will be using these for my next Nacho Cheese plate. For more info, go to

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