Best of Show: Chicago Global Food and Style Expo 2008

This year the Global Food and Style Expo did not have the FMI show co-located along with the All Things Organic, Fancy Food Show and the U.S. Food Export Showcase so it was a slightly smaller show with less foot traffic. But it was filled with innovative products and amazing entrepreneurial stories! it’s a shame most consumers do not have the opportunity to meet the creators of new products like this and hear their stories of passion and how those overcome distribution.

It gives me great pleasure to announce these items as best of show:

VinJus – A unique non-alcoholic grape juice drink! Not yet publicly launched, it is scheduled to be distributed shortly. It’s a unique drink. They describe it as:

NAPA VinJus™ – the perfect non-alcoholic aperitif! Refreshing virgin vineyard grape juice – created for your sophisticated palette as an alternative to soda, water or energy drinks. It’s unique balance of crisp, tart and sweet lingers with a hint of green apple, honeysuckle, wildflower and lavender.

Made in the beautiful Napa Valley from early picked varietals, such as Chardonnay and more, this delicious drink is but one single ingredient – mouth watering virgin vineyard grape juice and nothing more! Compared to wine it’s almost half the calories and compared to regular grape juice it’s about half the sugar! And it’s made by a GREEN company!!!

Lucy’sSmart Cookies. Made with Love. Norfolk, Virginia based Dr. Lucy Gibney M.D. has a son with major food allergies. Lucy describes it best on their website.

Every crispy, crunchy, delicious Dr. Lucy’s cookie is baked without wheat, gluten, dairy milk, butter, eggs, casein, peanuts or tree nuts. But you’d never know it. They taste delicious! We use only high quality ingredients in our carefully controlled bakery to be sure our products meet our tight allergen testing criteria.

Lucy was amazed at the lack of food available to serve that market. Lucy turned to the kitchen in order to change that and once a few varieties were perfected she decided to solve the problem for others without her unique combination of talents. They weren’t even supposed to be at the show, they got added to new items section at the last minute. I’m glad they did, Lucy is a wonderful person and I know her niche product will succeed. Terry Starbucker is already a huge fan.

Blackwing Meats, Inc. – A variety of elk, buffalo, ostrich and other exotic organic meats as wide as I’ve ever seen! They get bonus point for having an highly functional e-commerce site to ship Roger Gerber’s creations directly to you. Even in the down economy Roger says 1st quarter sales were up 77% over the previous year. These items have momentum and the distribution to match it.

Bionade is a unique German based, non-alcoholic refreshment drink that is scheduled to be introduced in the United States later this year. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted, but it is truly outstanding. In Germany the Elderberry is most popular, however I like the Herbs flavor the best (see picture here). If they are able to get shelf space and have an affordable price point, it could easily be a hit in the USA.

Leggio’s herb infused olive oil – Chef Joseph Leggio creates an “amazing” herb infused olive oil product. While there were others at the show with offerings in this vertical, none match the taste of Leggio’s. Joseph started experimenting with the concept several years ago. Then one day asked his wife to ask her dad, a wine maker, to bring over some bottling equipment for him to test with. Though she thought he was crazy, she did it anyway and his hunch paid off, his business is growing quite briskly and he claims to have some other innovative ideas up his sleeve, I can’t wait to see what they are.

Sheila B’s Popcorn (web site under development) – awesome butter flavor, ultra high pop rate, doesn’t dry out upon popping, no aftertaste like most popcorn has and best of all, not really more expensive than other popcorn on the market! Really nice folks too that taught me about the current state of agriculture.

BigHorn Extreme Foods – Peter Andrews has unique sausage offerings as well as tasty buffalo and elk burgers for restaurants and retail outlets.

WowBacon – Amazing clean cooking micro-wave bacon preparer. 6 years to perfect as an invention. Works extremely well the first few times you try it. Durability is a question.

Tre Bella Foods Organic – Gail Tiburzi’s organic Italian foods were inspired by her grandmother’s original recipes. It’s not everyday you meet a former investment banker turned food distributor, my time with Gail was all too short as she had a meeting. I told her to call me if she had time during the rest of the show to compare projects, I guess she was too busy taking orders as I never heard from her!

For those needing last minute Mother’s Day gift ideas, there you go!

4 Responses to Best of Show: Chicago Global Food and Style Expo 2008

  1. Terry Starbucker May 12, 2008 at 9:52 am #

    Hi David – yes, I wholeheartedly endorse Lucy’s cookies. I look forward to buying more of them! (my wife and I are both on gluten-free diets) Thanks again for the sample!

    All the best,

  2. Gail Tiburzi June 5, 2008 at 7:59 pm #

    Wow, tough crowd!! Cut me some slack, It was my first trade show and I was managing it all by myself. I sent you a text afterwards but never heard back. Hope you at least enjoyed my meatballs 🙂

  3. Christinia Daquila March 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!


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