The Fancy Food Show, where thousands of specialty retailers and restaurant owners explore the latest in quince jams, tequila salsas and curried peanut brittles, opens in San Francisco this weekend, and more than a dozen Seattle-based food producers are on the exhibitors' list. Here, three of the local companies which are Bay Area-bound, and the products they're planning to promote.
Saltworks, a decade-old gourmet salt maker, recently relocated to a 100,000 square-foot Woodinville factory which the company describes as "the most sophisticated natural salt flavoring, smoking, cleaning, sizing and packaging facility on the planet."
The expanded smoking capacity has allowed Saltworks to add three more salts to its line of 110 artisanal sea salts: Bonfire, smoked over seven different woods for two weeks; Hellfire, a blend of mesquite-smoked habanero and lime salt and Wildfire, a pecan-smoked salt mixed with garlic and rosemary.
"Smoked salts are really popular right now," spokesperson Naomi Novotny says.
Novotny recommends using the very intense Bonfire on steak. "It's so rich, it's good on red meat that can put up with it," she says. The Hellfire's well-suited for shrimp, and the Woodfire "is good on anything."
Rather than focus on expanding its product line, Sahale Snacks - an artisanal trail mix company borne of a 2003 trip up Mount Rainier that was marred by stale nuts - is currently engrossed in expanding its potential customer pool. The healthy snack makers last year obtained gluten-free certification, and now plans to start targeting the kosher market. Sahale's South Seattle production facility and products received kosher certification this month.
When Bellevue's GarLic It! last year beat out 2000 competing products to win one of 35 Gold Awards bestowed by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, owners Llance and Lori Kezner weren't at the summer Fancy Food Show to claim the prize. More importantly, they weren't on hand to share their product with intrigued buyers.
"I got a couple calls saying 'why weren't you there?', Llance Kezner recalls. "We didn't know we were going to win."
This edition of the Fancy Food Show will be the first chance for many retailers to taste GarLic It!'s Private Reserve Carmelized Garlic Finish, a triple-blanched, shelf-stable "garlic finish" that can be used as an ingredient or condiment.
Kezner suspects most attendees will want to try the award winner, but he's also looking forward to sampling "Better Than A Garlic Spread," a spoon-able product that the Kezners hope will become "the garlic equivalent of Sriracha."
"The thing that keeps us going is whenever people taste our stuff, they tell us how good it is," says Kezner, who two years ago launched the company with his wife after she sensed commercial potential in the vestiges of homemade salad dressing. "We're still pinching ourselves. It's all very, very cool."