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Exploring Culinary Innovation: Highlights from the Summer Fancy Food Fest

Well, now that the dust has settled after a chaotic few days at the Summer Fancy Food Fest, I can reflect on the experience.

The three days were packed full of food and fascinatingly motivational conversations with entrepreneurs who are striving to improve and create areas in the food and beverage space that they believe will grow their brands to new heights and bring about a cultural change in the way society eats.

I was truly blown away by the levels of ingenuity and innovation on display over the few days, from natural ingredient products to candy trends, protein-infused items, and dairy making a big comeback. I have no doubt that the future of food will continue to prosper and reach new culinary heights as we expand our minds across multiple continents and keep discovering multicultural techniques and products.

I have done a roundup of some of my favorite products that I tried and entrepreneurs who, with their story, product, and mindset, will continue to carve out an excellent market for themselves and have the potential to become the next household names.
First things first—cottage cheese. For years, this product has gained a negative connotation. Maybe it’s the curds, the consistency, or the fact that the name “cottage cheese” doesn’t sound as elegant as “Greek yogurt.” Regardless, cottage cheese is a superfood, packed with clean ingredients, protein, probiotics, calcium, and many other nutritionally dense elements. It’s as clean and natural as you can get.

Enter Smearcase, the first FroCo-based ice cream company. What is FroCo? It stands for Frozen Cottage Cheese, and honestly, don’t knock it until you try it. The founder, Joe, is incredibly passionate about the product, and rightfully so. He has taken what was once an archaic style of cheese-making and transformed it into a beautifully creamy, protein-packed dessert.

At the show, I tried three flavors: vanilla, peanut butter, and chocolate. With my years of experience in the ice cream industry, I can tell you Joe is onto something big. The nutritional benefits of his products, combined with their great taste, give him the potential to create a brand new market and make a name for himself as your next Protein Dealer.

If he can lock down his flavours he could be onto the next Froyo sensation. 

 

Number 2 on the list is Creative Crispies Co., a brand that transforms the classic rice crispie treat into unique, indulgent snacks perfect for any occasion. Started by a mother-daughter duo, I was captivated by their impressive product pitch and the

story behind their creation. Once I tried it, I knew these two meant business. In a tough market dominated by Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats, we’ve recently seen companies like Mid-Day Squares emerge to shake things up. Can this duo match up and take on a goliath? I believe so. Their journey won’t be easy, but their creations are a great example of culinary innovation, backed by a compelling story and a delicious product. Unlike Smearcase, they are entering an established market, but as someone who likes to support the underdog, I’ll be keeping an eye on them—they definitely mean business.

 

Number 3 on the list is Indi Grand, the Indian food experts who have become a staple in most British and Irish households with their rich, creamy sauces and curries. These culinary masters are on a mission to break through the formidable walls of the American sauce market.

First off, Indi Grand has an incredible product, possibly the finest pre-made sauces on the market—there’s no question about that. Despite being hard to find online, they have built a stellar reputation, landing in major food outlets across the UK. Now, they are embarking on a journey across the Atlantic to tackle the American market, which, as far as I can tell, still lacks a household Indian sauce brand.

Their products are outstanding, offering a rich aroma of spices and a creamy sensation. However, my advice to the Indi Grand team is to boost their online presence. It’s challenging to find information online about them, and without educating the market, Americans won’t be introduced to the convenience and delight of “curry in a hurry” at home.

Number 4 on my list is where I believe the future will take us in terms of going back to nature. Castle Valley Mill, who supply the Finest Local Freshly Stone Ground Whole Grain Products. This old school family run mill takes the consumer back to the basics with its incredible range of stone ground products and grains.

In an age dominated by ultra-processed, 40-ingredient breads and pastas, there’s a growing craving for a return to simpler, more wholesome product creation. Leading us back to basics is Castle Valley Mill, an exemplary standard for what food products used to be—and should be again. Their flour stands out as one of the finest I’ve ever tasted. In fact, it was so exceptional that I found myself devouring an entire baguette in one day. Paired with natural Irish butter, it was a culinary delight, a true testament to the power of going back to basics.

Although this company is a small producer, they are tackling big flour and manufacturers who continue to use sub par ingredients, so I do believe they are coming to the front at a great time, as we witness the flour revolution. If they can lock down their marketing, and their go to market strategy, these guys have a bright future, I will be rooting for them every step of the way. 

 

Completing this showcase of remarkable food entrepreneurs is Kombucharista, a business led by women. What started in a closet at her parents’ house quickly evolved into Brenna’s realization that she could craft unique, effervescent flavors absent from the market. Through years of mastering kombucha, Brenna has definitively carved out a new niche with her probiotic, non-sparkling tea.

I have spent years immersed in the world of kombucha, including a dedicated kombucha tour of London in 2019, I can confidently say that Brenna’s flavor profile stands out as one of the most exceptional I’ve encountered to date.

Kombucharista pioneers cocktail-flavored kombucha, offering a healthy, enjoyable zero-proof alternative that doubles as a gut-friendly mixer. Located in Rochester, NY, Kombucharista is now stocked at multiple venues across the city and its surrounds, including Red, White, and Brew; Clementine Coffee; Flight Wine Bar; Nine Spot Brewery; Birdhouse Brewery; and 20 Deep Winery.

From modest beginnings, Brenna blends passion, creativity, and quality to deliver an exceptional palate experience, presenting the public with a fresh perspective on high-quality, non-carbonated kombucha. As the popularity of non-alcoholic beverages continues to soar, kombucha aligns perfectly as a health-conscious drink and premium mixer. Better-for-you beverages and probiotic teas are increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice for many.

The Summer Fancy Food Fest has been an eye-opening experience, showcasing not only the culinary innovations and entrepreneurial spirit of today but also the promising future of the food and beverage industry. From revitalizing classics like cottage cheese and rice crispy treats to venturing into new territories with Indian sauces, kombucha, and stone-ground grains, each entrepreneur featured here embodies dedication, creativity, and a commitment to quality. As I look forward to adding five more outstanding companies to this list later in the week, I am eager to continue exploring how these trailblazers will shape and redefine our culinary landscape, offering consumers new and exciting ways to enjoy food that is both delicious and nutritious.

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