The Good Food Awards, now in its fourth year, recognizes food products that are “tasty, authentic, and responsibly produced.” This year’s winners were announced in San Francisco on January 16. The awards, given in ten categories — beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee confections, oils, pickles, preserves, and spirits — celebrate “outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients” (more info on the Good Food Awards site).
Having spent almost a decade creating and building a handmade confections business from the ground up, I know how much hard work it takes to have a successful food business. Honing your craft, telling your story to anyone and everyone, and yes, personal sacrifice (sleep, social life, and finances), are all part of the process. The challenges are many, but the rewards can be soul-satisfying: awards, good press, increased sales, not to mention the opportunity to live your dream job. But when it comes right down to it, one of the main reasons artisan foodcrafters do what they do is the satisfaction and enjoyment of sharing their passion with others. Sometimes (ok, a lot of the the time) it’s the kudos and the joy you’ve brought to those who experience your work that can make all the difference.
So, perhaps I approached the Good Food Awards Marketplace — a showcase for winners and their products held at the Ferry Building on January 18 — with a slightly different perspective than some of the other attendees. The Good Food Awards represent a standard of quality and holistic approach to making well-crafted food that were core to my business since its inception in 2004. Sourcing delicious and responsibly produced ingredients, cultivating relationships with your purveyors, and creating community with your customers are essential to creating “good food.” I’m glad that the Good Food Awards exist to celebrate foodcrafters who incorprate these values while creating craveable food.
Attending the marketplace and having an opportunity to chat with the winners and taste their products felt like a bit of a personal homecoming. I was, for the first time in a long time, on “the other side of the table” — not handing out samples and telling my company’s story. I wasn’t doing any competitive analysis or looking for trends. I wasn’t thinking about food costs or marketing techniques. I was simply there to revel in experiencing some of the best craft foods in the market. It was that passion for thoughtfully made (dare I say it: “artisan”) food, after all, that inspired me to start my chocolate business, Gateau et Ganache, almost a decade ago.
You could probably guess that my focus would be the Chocolate and Confections categories, which is why most of the photos in Part Deux are from those producers — that’s where I spent most of my time. (Ok, I’ll ‘fess up that I also spent a lot of time at the cheese table, so I’ve included a couple of my favorites from that category as well.) Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with photos of all products, but that’s not to slight any of the winners — it’s more of a comment on my, ahem, “skills” as a photographer.
A heartfelt congratulations to all of the winners of this year’s Good Food Awards — you deserve it! Want to see what I tasted? On to Part Deux for the food porn roundup…