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The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Inc. announced the finalists for the 40th sofi™ Awards for the outstanding specialty foods and beverages of the year today. Amid the most entries in the contest’s history, a national panel of specialty food experts spent five days tasting and evaluating 1,935 entries across 30 awards categories to select 110 finalists.
Sofis, which stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation, are considered the highest honor in the $75 billion specialty food industry.
This year’s finalists include a Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Organic Pistachio Butter, Peri Peri Sauce, Chicken Samosas, Fennel Pollen Rub and Lemon Frozen Yogurt. The complete list of finalists is online.
In May, the NASFT will bring in judges to select sofi Silver Finalists for two more awards: Outstanding New Product of 2012, and Outstanding Product Line.
The sofi Awards are open to members of the NASFT, a not-for-profit trade association for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs.
Gold winners will be announced at a red-carpet ceremony June 18 at the NASFT’s Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C. The event will be hosted by chef José Andrés.
“The sofi Awards recognize the best of the best in food today,” said NASFT president Ann Daw. “This year’s finalists reflect the creativity and passion that are at the heart of our industry.”
The judges evaluated the entries on numerous attributes, including quality, taste, innovation, packaging, ingredients and pricing. The panel included: Paul Abbott and Brooke Hohman, Giant Eagle Market District, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Mary Beth Albright, freelance journalist; Nathan Anda and Michael Babin, Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Alexandria, Va.; Gordon Angeles, Wythe Will, Tzetzo, Toano, Va.; Annie Baum-Stein, Milk and Honey Market, Philadelphia; and Kate Donovan, InStyle Magazine. Also serving as judges were Eric Finkelstein and Matt Ross, Court Street Grocers, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Margaret Furniss, Caviar & Bananas, Charleston, S.C.; Kim Kristofer, KeHe, Romeoville, Ill.; Susan Lacz, Ridgewells, Bethesda, Md.; Eric Larson, Marion Street Cheese Market, Oak Park, Ill.; Erin O’Hagan and Laurie Semon, Olives Gourmet Grocer, Long Beach, Calif.; Chandra Poston, The Fresh Market, Greensboro, N.C.; Adam Rhein, Eli’s Manhattan, New York.