Oser Communications Group

Gourmet News January 2017

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GOURMET NEWS JANUARY 2017 www.gourmetnews.com SUPPLIER NEWS 1 4 Chocolate Continued from PAGE 1 decided that she'd also take advantage of the wealth of culinary knowledge avail- able to her in Chicago. "I'm a big foodie. You want to talk about food, I can talk to you for hours," she says. That led her to a week-long class by Chocolatier Elaine Gonzalez that was scheduled during a break in her college schedule, and eventu- ally to a new career for which Gonzalez became a mentor. Gonzalez died in 2014 after a career as an internationally renowned artist in chocolate who'd been a guest instructor at leading culinary schools throughout the country, including The Culinary Institute of America, The Malley School of Merchan- dising for Retail Confectioners and The Wilton School of Confectionary Art. At that first week-long class, Gonzalez caught Vieau's imagination right away with a demonstration in which she made a choco- late bow for a chocolate candy box. "I thought that was the slickest thing," Vieau says. "Back at school, I started making things on the side and giving them away." People started asking if they could buy more of her confections, and eventually, someone offered her a deal she couldn't pass up, and that turned her little hobby into the start of a real business. "I had a guy – I had a recipe of cookies that he liked a lot, and he traded me a recipe of cookies for a chocolate melting machine," she says. She started with an English Toffee that won a 1999 silver sofi Award in the Out- standing Confection category from the or- ganization then called the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, now the Spe- cialty Food Associ- ation. Soon after that, she was mak- ing Cinnamon Toast Toffee and Espresso Toffee and coming up with recipes for brittles. The creativity just kept flowing. Squr- tle is a turtle-type candy with a square shell, and he's even got a mascot, Elmore Squrtle, whose image is molded into the top of each piece. "He's got a – notice that all of a sudden I give him a personality," Vieau says. Then when the economy crashed, she started working on a range of Boozy Brit- tles. Those now include a range made with craft beers – one with a farmhouse ale, one with a hard ginger beer and one with a hard root beer. The line made with craft beers is still expanding, and Vieau promises that varieties made with wines are also on the way. The vegan line is the latest innovation. "That was a little challenging because we wanted it to taste like it happened to be vegan. We wanted it to taste, not like there was something wrong with it, but that there was some- thing right with it," she says. "Vegan also ap- peals to other peo- ple because it's also dairy free; we run into a lot of people who say they don't eat dairy any more. We're very proud of our vegan line. We want it to taste just as good and it does." All that creativity comes from an endless search for new ideas. She gathers them from magazines covering the food industry, from visits to trade shows like the Fancy Food Shows, from conversations with other foodies and makers. "There's not enough hours in the day for the amount of things I would like to try and make. When I have free time, which is not a lot, I am al- ways looking in books. I am always looking for what's new," she says. "The whole pur- pose is to stay abreast of what's going on and then to take away from that what you can actually use yourself." The business is growing, but it's still a family-run operation, and Vieau and Goetz say that the Chocolate Inspirations products work best for small retailers, the kind of family-owned businesses where customers expect to find the handcrafted, personally selected, lovingly made and lovingly offered products that they can't find in big box stores. The vegan line, of course, is a particularly good fit for natu- ral foods stores. "Mom and pop stores are absolutely the best for us. We're mom and pop, and they're mom and pop, and that's where people go for the locally-produced, the artisan," says Goetz. "That's part of what we are. Even if we are big and fa- mous chocolatiers, there'll be a division where mom and pop stores can call. I don't ever want to get to be too big for mom and pop stores." For more information, visit www.chocolateinspirations.com, where you can also meet Tyson, the "soon to be famous" golden retriever who's just joined the family. GN Traina Foods Ketchups Offer Intense Tomato Flavor facilities." About four years ago, the company de- cided to branch out just a bit and offer a product designed for the retail market – but without competing for the dollars already coming in for its packaged dried fruit. So they decided to take their sun-dried toma- toes and make a ketchup out of them. "We felt like we could give people a ketchup ex- perience that would go a little further than the typical sweet tomato paste-based ketchup that you typically see," Traina said. "Ultimately, we felt like we improved ketchup." Four pounds of fresh California toma- toes go into every bottle of the Traina Foods Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup. "We're packing a lot of tomato into our bottle of ketchup," Traina said. "When you sun-dry tomatoes, you're removing the water, and if you ever eat a really good sun-dried Cali- fornia tomato, they are really intense in fla- vor. When you make your tomato paste out of sun-dried tomatoes, your intensity is off the charts, and that's how we make a really great ketchup." The tomatoes for the ketchups are sourced from growers in Califor- nia's Central Valley, following the season from Bakersfield in early summer to fields around Sacra- mento as the harvest season con- tinues. "My dad's philosophy is that you have to bring in a great product to produce a great prod- uct," Traina said. "It starts in the field." While the Hot Sriracha Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup is the newest to be launched at retail, the Traina Foods product devel- opment team is currently work- ing on other sun-dried tomato ketchups with a fruit twist that Traina promises will add a fillip to foods that most people haven't yet thought of dousing with ketchup. "They won't be just for burgers and hot dogs," he said. "We're talking about being able to use a ketchup on fish or chicken." They're still in the develop- ment stage, so we may or may not get a taste of them at the Winter Fancy Food Show, but they'll definitely be available for tasting at Traina Foods' booth next summer. "I'm excited about it. It's some- thing that we've really been excited about," Traina said. "Our product devel- opment team worked really hard on the new products, and it's something that I'm really proud of." But of course, ketchup isn't the only way to use dried fruits, and Traina Foods is working on other products that originate in family recipes. The latest of these is a line of flavored vodkas made from vodka derived from grapes and then soaked with dried fruits and sold under the PORCH LIGHT Vodka brand. "It's an old recipe that my mother used to do," Traina said. "Dur- ing the Prohibition, my grandfather used to make a little alcohol. He'd be in the barn behind the home. If grandma saw a lot of action or people who were coming around, she'd flip on the porch light, and he'd know to put things away." There are currently four flavors: Apricot, which is from the original family recipe; Strawberry; Fig and Sun Dried Tomato, which makes a Bloody Mary that Traina says is "scary good." The vodka has just launched at retail, with initial distribution in California and growing from there. "It's great for sipping, great for blending," Traina said. "Enjoy life. Slow down a little bit. That's our philosophy – to slow down on life a little bit. It goes too quick." GN BY LORRIE BAUMANN A taste for ketchup is no longer the marker that divides the gourmet from the hoi pol- loi, and Traina Foods' new Sun Dried Tomato Ketchups are among the reasons for that. The company has now added a new Hot Sriracha Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup to its product line and promises that more premium ketchups are coming in 2017. While Traina Foods' Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup was already designed to appeal to the consumer who appreciates bold flavors, the new Hot Sriracha- flavored ketchup amps up the spiciness and works well on a taco or on scrambled eggs, says Willie Traina, the com- pany's CEO and Presi- dent. He's the third generation in this fam- ily-owned company that's now on its fourth generation in the busi- ness of producing dried fruits sold as ingredients to many of the largest food companies in the U.S. as well as to food- service suppliers and even in the little bags of dried cherries, apricots or tomatoes that grocers put in their produce aisles. Traina Foods currently dries 60 dif- ferent fruits in 14 drying facilities around the world and is behind more than 700 SKUs distributed across the country. "Our products are distributed in every state and in Canada," Traina said. "If you see sun- dried apricots or cherries in a restaurant, chances are that it came out of one of our

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