Some stories are interesting, but this one was delicious. More than 1100 exhibitors gathered at the new Las Vegas Convention Center’s West Hall for the three day 47th Fancy Food Show. The expo, sponsored by the not-for-profit Speciality Food Association Is aimed at the $170.4 billion specialty food industry which includes tens of thousands of specialty food and beverage products – everything from high-end butter and drinkable, edible treats to the latest and greatest weird snacks you can find on the shelves of your favorite grocery store.
Speciality food generally refers to products made in small batches with high end ingredients. These products are often considered to be trend setters. We observed an increased emphasis on plant based or vegan foods as well as a trend toward spicier products and a greater number of non-alcoholic beverages on display.
The vendors displaying their edible products at the show encouraged buyers to taste away. Negotiating the room was simple with signs indicating the various food areas. Some of the many products and vendors we observed included —
Cheese Vendors —There were numerous cheese companies represented. In fact, there was a dedicated pavilion.
La Clare Creamery was one of our favorites. This Wisconsin-based company specializes in spreadable goat cheese and combinations of goat and cow cheeses. We were told that Wisconsin is the goat capital of the United States.
There were numerous cheese manufacturers presenting their products under the Wisconsin banner. Most produced speciality cheeses in small batches. As example Wood River Creamery produces ten varieties of cheddar cheeses with such flavors as Chipotle, garlic, and black truffle. This variety is a good example of speciality products.
Einstein Bros Bagels— Andrew Heald told us that they feel it is important to have their bagels certified Kosher. The company has over one thousand restaurants coast to coast. Bagel lovers’ choices include cinnamon raisin, plain, everything, and asiago.
Prima Pav —This company produces alcohol free wines. The manufacturing process is complex. The beverage is first produced in the standard fermentation process for producing wine in Italy. Then the wine undergoes a reverse osmosis process which removes the alcohol. Rose and white wines are available. They were refreshing.
Brix Chocolates — These products are designed to be enjoyed with wine. The company offers a variety of chocolates ranging from extra dark to milk chocolate. They recommend that the extra dark chocolate be paired with a variety of red wines and strong whiskeys. Similar recommendations are made for the other chocolates.
Lakanto — Their sign said Monk Fruit Sweetener. I had to find out what it was. Their products include syrups, drink mixes, and cake mixes. Here’s what I learned…..
Matzo Project —This unique company supplies a variety of matzoh chips. They have taken a rather bland product and flavored it. The product is marketed as a tasty cracker. Matzo Project prides itself in being kosher and vegan.
Marmalade Grove — This family owned business is a small grower that offers a line that includes citrus products -tangerines, Meyer lemons and cara cara oranges. They also manufacture speciality marmalades. Peter Karpushin told us that their thriving mail order business causes some back-ups due to the high demand. We found the citrus products that we sampled tasted fresh and delicious.
Brita Water — This specially purified water is packaged in a refillable aluminum bottle. The packaging is designed to eliminate environmental issues caused by disposable plastic bottles. The water goes through a special purification process. So you help the environment by reusing the bottle.
San Marzano DOP — These unique tomatoes grow in the volcanic soil at the foot of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. We had the pleasure of attending a special dinner which included their product in each course -Classic Tuscan soup with San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomatoes, Carnaroli rice, San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomatoes, Seared scallops, Ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta cheese, San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese – Nocerino DOP tomato sauce, Pan seared Halibut, Cacciucco sauce with San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomatoes, Crispy poi.
Nine countries had pavilions at the show. There were cooking classes and wine pairngs in addition to a huge amount of tastings. The participants we spoke with felt that the show was successful with an attendance of more than 13,000. It will be held in New York this summer and returns to Las Vegas next January.
Article by Dianne Davis and Burt Davis Photos by Burt Davis or Dianne Davis