Today was the first day of the Fancy Food Show which fills the Javits Convention Center in New York for three days. Organized by the Specialty Food Association, the exhibitors are makers of food and beverage products hoping to catch the eye of representatives of restaurants, supermarkets, and anyone else who buys food for commercial or retail use.
I only walked about half of the show today, but I noticed a few trends:
CHIPS AND CRACKERS MADE FROM UNUSUAL FOODS AND GRAINS
There were lots of exhibitors with crackers or chips that are made of something not so typical. It went past “multigrain” or “gluten free” to chips/crackers made of things like red fife and spelt, falafel, pasta, sweet potatoes, beans, chickpeas, pomegranates and broccoli. And then there were lots of flavor combinations, such as sweet chili, sea salt, maple honey, mesquite cheddar, rosemary and thyme, and another trend, sriracha.
CAKES AND JARS
There was a lot of weird stuff going on with cakes and cookies, including making appearances in tubes, jars, bottles and cups.
I’m not sure it’s advisable to squeeze a cupcake into a plastic popsicle tube. I didn’t taste one of the cupcake pops, but I hate to think of having to eat all the whipped cream before I can get to the cupcake.
Cakes are also being shoved into jars of multiple sizes. Cakelove is doing it with cream cheese icing. Goodbye layer cakes. The idea is that you can have a little now and store the rest in the fridge for later. Who are they kidding?
You don’t want a glass jar? Well, you can have your cake in a mug. This time, it hasn’t been cooked yet. The My Cup of Cake package includes a dry mix, an oil packet and a ceramic mug. You put everything in the mug with some water and then cook it in the microwave for less than three minutes. Voilá: Belgian chocolate soufflé. The larger size comes with enough for four ramekins–you supply the ramekins.
More than one company is selling a jar that looks like one of those colored sand bottles you made at camp. Inside are the ingredients to bake cookies, just add egg, butter and vanilla. Unlike a mix, the ingredients are layered separately in the jars and include mix-ins like chocolate chips, dried fruits and nuts jelly. The Mason Jar Company allows you to make your own combinations online.
SistersGourmet has a set selection of cookie mixes. You can select the bows on the outside of the jar — it seems they are mostly intended as gifts.
ASIAN SAUCES GO MAINSTREAM
Sriracha, a hot sauce modeled after Thai hot sauces, has become ubiquitous. The Sriracha sauce that started it all is made by Los Angeles company, Huy Fong Foods. Sriracha has become a common table top condiment like ketchup and soy sauce. Now, competing Srirachas sauces are made the large food manufacturers and “sriracha” flavor has shown up in all kinds of products like the chips mentioned above. More recently, a Korean fermented chili paste, Gochujang, is rising in popularity. Gochujang is more of an ingredient used in cooking than a condiment, but now you can see it mentioned more often in recipes and in descriptions of food items on restaurant menus (and not just Asian restaurants).
So, perhaps partly due to the successes of Sriracha and Gochujang, I noticed today at the Fancy Food Show a lot more companies specializing in Asian style sauces, from Korean hot sauces that bear a resemblance to gochujang, but are intended to be used as a condiment, to Indian style chutneys and ketchups that have been spiced up. Here are some examples:
GLUTEN FREE GONE WILD
The obsession with gluten free only gets bigger. The GF certification could be seen everywhere.