This year's Summer Fancy Food Show was full of innovative specialty products helping reimagine the future of food. Foodable welcomed more than 15 innovators to the SFA Live Stage where hot industry topics were discussed and new fascinating products were introduced. The following two emerging CEOs are introducing flavors from abroad to delight American consumers and foodservice professionals, alike. Scroll below to see the full interviews with each.
Mike Kurtz, Founder of Mike’s Hot Honey
A life-long pizza and spicy food lover, Mike Kurtz found the inspiration for Mike’s Hot Honey from Brazil, out of all places.
He first encountered the concept of chilli pepper-infused honey inside a pizzeria on a valley in northeastern Brazil. He was a college student studying abroad at the time when he decided to go on a hike during a weekend trip with his friends. What he didn’t know was that at the end of this hike he would have a mindblowing culinary experience when he would try a pizza drizzled with Brazilian chilli pepper-infused honey.
“When I got back to the States I started experimenting with honey and chilli infusions. I made it as a hobby for years and I would just give it out to friends and family,” says Kurtz.
Mike’s Hot Honey sort of took off as a business after he introduced his sweet and spicy treat to Paulie Gee, the owner of Paulie Gee’s pizzeria in Greenpoint Brooklyn where Kurtz was working as a Neapolitan-style pizza apprentice. After it was incorporated in the pizzeria’s menu, people would come up to Kurtz asking if he was they “honey guy” and where they could buy the product.
Viviana Kamaranis, Founder of Hellenic Farms
Viviana Kamaranis is the daughter of Greek immigrants and she grew up spending every Summer with her grandparents in Greece. While there, she had the chance to appreciate some of the unique foods and flavors that different regions of Greece has to offer.
Part of the mission of Hellenic Farms is to highlight those special flavors and bring them to the American market.
For example, the inspiration for her award-winning vegan fig salami actually came from her husband’s love for fig cakes, but he was not a fan of the taste of the fruit knowing very well the taste quality difference when compared to Greek figs.
At the SFA Show 2018, Hellenic Farm’s Pistachio and Cinnamon fig salami was a Sofi winner and a huge hit with attendees for it’s unique attributes. There are two other varieties of fig salami currently offered, too. One is the Smoked Paprika fig salami, which can be used as a “vegan meat alternative, it tastes a lot like a chorizo” says Kamaranis. And the other is the Orange Zest Pepper, which pairs well with cheese.