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Fancy food makers find new ways to spice things up

New spice combos and flavor innovations heated up the 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show

4 min read

Food Retail

Food makers heat up their products with new spice combos

Flickr user Maxpax



Spice doesn’t just come in shakers and rubs these days, it’s everywhere from condiments and sauces to chocolates and even granola. The biggest spice trends at the Specialty Food Association’s  Summer Fancy Food Show in June were the new ways food makers of all sizes are combining familiar flavors to create new tastes and innovative products for restaurants, foodservice and retail shelves.

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Bad Seed Chili Granola boasts a shelf-stable version of the traditional cereal with a complex kick that comes from spices including chili paste, chili powder, rice vinegar and tamari sauce among other ingredients.

The brand’s four founders are food lovers on a mission to introduce consumers to spicy flavors using a familiar food, said co-founder and partner Peter Cortez, who was on hand to hand out samples and tell the company’s story at the Specialty Food Association’s  Summer Fancy Food Show in June.

The partners aren’t trained chefs, so they partnered with a co-packer while perfecting the recipe, and now the brand is part of the Brooklyn Foodworks culinary incubator. A big break came when a buyer from Whole Foods noticed the new product.

“They wanted us to be in the store so they helped educate us on all of the [food business] basics,” Cortez said. The Chili Granola is now in three Whole Foods stores in New York, as well as three independent boutiques and two online stores.

Asian spices, family recipes flavor trends

Spicy condiments were also plentiful at the show, including goods from Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, which has expanded a line of jams and condiments that began with a recipe for Hot Chili Sambal from founder Auria Abraham’s mom. The company’s line now also includes Lime Leaf Sambal and two sweetly spiced coconut-based jellies called Salted Caramel Kaya and Pandan Kaya.

“We grew up eating them on toast,” Abraham said. “Now, there are chefs who are putting them on cheese plates and serving them with crackers.”

Asian spices and family recipes starred in several booths at the three-day culinary event, including Denver-based startup Yai’s Thai, which launched last year with a line of salsas and hot sauces inspired by co-founder Leland Copenhagen’s Thai grandmother’s recipes.

Tunisia was the  country sponsor of this year’s show, which gave its food makers a chance to show off their spicy side with traditional condiments including harissa, a spicy paste made from peppers of varying heat levels and spices including garlic, coriander and saffron.

Here’s a sampling of some of the other spicy flavors on display at the show:

  • Urban Accents combined its international spices with pumpkin and other flavors to create its first line of cooking sauces, including Pumpkin Tagine, Pumpkin Mole and Pumpkin Curry.
  • Chung Jung One added a third flavor to its line of Korean-inspired Gochujang sauces, created by chef and restaurateur Edward Lee. In addition to the brand’s Korean Chili Sauce and Gochujang Ketchup, the collection now includes a Gochujang Miso dipping sauce.
  • Madison Park Foods planned to perk up its popcorn with a new Bloody Mary Seasoning, but soon discovered the new spice works on a slew of dishes and even in its namesake cocktail.
  • Century-old Pereg Natural Foods touted its line of rubs for barbecue season, touting the mixtures of seasonings, sugar and salt as less expensive, longer lasting and more effective than marinades.  
  • Spice grinders also seem to be growing in popularity, including The Spice Lab’s BB Q Grilling Grinder Collection with spice mixes including Sweet Mesquite, Spicy Italian Seasoning and Caribbean Jerk Chicken.


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