Get Inspired! FABI Award Recipients Share their Stories of Innovation

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We celebrated the award recipients of the 2013 Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards (FABI). Our esteemed award recipients shared their progressive food and beverage innovations that enhance menus and bring in customers. An independent panel of experts, representing a variety of both commercial and non-commercial industry segments, selected the FABI award recipients based on high marketability products designed to satisfy consumer trends, including lifestyles such as gluten-free, allergen-free, low sodium, vegetarian, vegan or raw diets.

Here are their stories.

Owner Susan O’Brien and Partner and CEO Sarah Chapin, Hail Merry Snack Foods

“I started the company in my pool cabana as raw, vegan, gluten-free snack company. Sarah joined me in that cabana and the business grew from there. We are so honored to win a FABI Award today with our mini chocolate miracle tart, which is a mini-version of our chocolate coconut oil ganache tart which is pretty famous in the natural world.” CEO and partner Sarah Chapin further explains, “I’ve been in the foodservice industry for 30 years with larger foodservice companies so it’s such a proud moment to actually be recognized by the National Restaurant Association with our own company.” Hail Merry’s started on the retail side at Whole Foods and launched in foodservice with Omni Hotels & Resorts. “Casual and casual-plus have really responded to our mini offering because they offer a gluten-free bite-size indulgence.”  

Owner Peter Michalakos of Kiki’s Gluten-Free

“Our oldest child was diagnosed with Celiac disease at the age of four, and our family quickly adapted to life in a gluten-free household. We found a lot substitutes for basics like cookies, crackers, and breads, but many traditional family recipes were off limits. We started doing our traditional Greek family recipes by scratch, and we realized that there was a need to bring great food to the gluten-free community. We saw the opportunity with the FABI that it was a platform for instant credibility for us with a panel of judges that know what they are looking for in a superior gluten-free product. For a new start-up like us, people will stop and take notice because they recognize the FABI brand. It’s opened some doors for us. Foodservice operators see the benefit of offering a product that captures gluten-free guests. They don’t have to worry about cross-contamination, and the product also appeals to even the non-gluten-free guest.”

Co-owners Amy and Jeffrey Barnes, Edison Grainery

“We were together selling organic quinoa pastas, and we have a variety of shapes from spaghetti, vermicelli, penne, and elbow. We were delighted to provide restaurateurs with an answer for diet-specific menus such as gluten-free, kosher, and vegan offerings. We are pleased to be recognized for a product that serves both an at-home retail consumer as well as fine restaurants. While many chefs first came to us for a gluten-free response, we are proud to say that our product stands up to the test of their dishes that they work so hard to create. 

Principal Aaron Fuchs, Wagshal’s Imports and Sales Manager Raul Martin from Fermín USA

“Wagshal’s Imports brings the best from Spain into the United States. It all starts with Fermin, our producer from Spain. As the latest offering from one of our most successful lines, the Fermin Ibérico de Bellota Smoked Panceta is an American twist on a Spanish delicacy. We take the raw bellies from Spain and cure them in a family-run smokehouse in Pennsylvania, Smucker’s Meats. We have retail grocery, fine dining restaurants, and specialty restaurants that have really responded to the product. As the everyday consumer becomes more familiar with the superior quality of Iberico, this is the next step to introduce the public to other Ibérico offerings.”

Program Director Barry Snyder, Sinco Inc.

Our Italcrust Ancient Grain Handstretched Woodfired Frozen Pizza Crust is made with ancient and whole grains, and the product is made entirely in Italy. We work closely with our partners in Modena, Italy, who are here with us today. We are a very small, family-run operation outside of Boston so to have this kind of recognition from companies such as McDonalds, Disney, ARAMARK is amazing. It allows us to compete with large companies that have a strong marketing power behind them.”

Vice President of Foodservice Bill McClennan, Dawn Food Products

“Dawn Food Products started over 90 years ago. We are based out of Jackson, Michigan and dedicated to the business of sweet baked goods. This FABI award is great exposure for us to get in front of the restaurant industry–not only chains but other sectors, and we are very proud of this product. It’s taken us several years for us to perfect our TasteFills™ product. It’s a puff pastry with a cinnamon schmear that is super decadent. You can’t eat just one! The great thing about the product is it can be a breakfast item, a snack item, or a PM chill item to serve a number of foodservice operations. You can dress it up and put ice cream and icings on it, or it’s great with just a little brown sugar or powdered sugar.”

President and COO Don Mower, Nu-Tek Food Science

“The company came to be in 2006 when the food scientists who designed this product came up with the notion that sodium would be the next major issue for food processors and operators. They worked on the patented technology for three years. Now foodservice operators have a solution that reduces sodium anywhere from 40-70% without loosing any of the taste or functionality of salt. The Salt for Life brand will be rolling out for both foodservice and retail. Winning the FABI award is huge verification from the foodservice industry that they are as committed to our mission for sodium reduction as we are. The FABI award helps us communicate our story and gives us the opportunity to educate operators on the back-of-the-house opportunities for sodium alternatives.”

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