SFA Live: Making Good Food Available for Everybody

The Summer Fancy Food Show offers a chance for innovators to share new flavors and products they hope will revolutionize the food industry. Host Paul Barron welcomed a number of leaders in the industry to the live stage this year during the signature Specialty Food Association (SFA) New York City event.

Two noteworthy interviews were with Dino Borri, the vice president of Global Partnerships for Italian marketplace and restaurant Eataly, and SFA President Phil Kafarakis. Barron chatted with Borri and Kafarakis about developing key partnerships and the ever-growing consumer demand for specialty products.

Dino Borri, Eataly VP of Global Partnerships

Born in a small town in Piedmont, Italy, Dino Borri has lived and traveled worldwide promoting high quality food and the Italian lifestyle.

Borri first joined the food industry in 2000 to work for Slow Food, an organization that branded itself as an Italian response to the growing popularization of fast food. The grassroots organization swiftly went global, campaigning to protect dying or forgotten local food cultures and traditions. Eight years later, Borri brought that knowledge to Eataly and began launching new branches of the combination store and restaurant in Japan and in multiple locations throughout the continental United States.

“We’re a window for small producers,” says Borri. “I’m happy when I see one of our original products in other chains and retailers. One of our goals is to expose the producer to other retailers — we’re not jailers about that. There’s so much good food in the world, and good food should be for everybody.”

Founder Oscar Farinetti designed Eataly to have the same products used by the restaurant available for purchase in its adjacent marketplace. At present, forty stores have been established worldwide — and according to Borri, another Eataly location in Texas is in the works.

Check out the video above to learn more about Eataly’s mission and Borri’s thoughts on the growing popularity of artisanal and specialty products.

Phil Kafarakis, SFA President

Phil Kafarakis handles the day-to-day operations of the SFA, overseeing the management of more than 3,400 member companies within the $120 billion specialty food industry. The Summer Fancy Food Show is the largest specialty food show in North America, with over 200,000 specialty foods featured. Hundreds of food companies were in attendance this year from states including New York, California, New Jersey, and Florida, and over fifty countries were represented. Germany was this year’s partner country.

“Our mission is to bring the community together to learn, network, and connect,” says Kafarakis. “When you leave here, we want you to feel like you did some business. There’s an outcome — not just information.”

Looking ahead, Kafarakis shares that the organization has seen “explosive growth” in the beverage industry. “Beverage is going to be a bigger part of what we do.” Specialty foods as a whole represent the fastest growing segment in the food business, growing at a rate nine times faster than traditional foods. In addition to expanding its membership policy, Kafarakis shares that the organization is eyeing international possibilities.

“You can’t do everything all at once,” he notes. “But the infrastructure has been built. We’re going to take some steps to see how the brand fits into the interests of our members.”

Check out the video above to learn more about the future of SFA and current specialty food trends!

Why are CBD Edibles Being Pulled Off Restaurants in Some Parts of the Country?

Across various parts of the country, health department officials are asking restaurants to voluntarily pull CBD-infused foods and drinks off menus.

The latest local and regional governments that have reportedly taken steps against CBD are New York City, California, Texas, and Ohio banning the substance from restaurants and retail stores.

For example, according to the New York City’s official government website, beginning July 1, New York City restaurants that don’t comply with the CBD ban voluntarily could be embargoed of their CBD products by the health department... and by October 1, officials “will begin issuing violations to restaurants and retailers for offering CBD-laced foods and drinks. Violations may be subject to fines as well as violation points that count toward the establishment’s letter grade.”

CBD, or cannabidiol, which derives from cannabis, doesn’t cause the psychoactive effects for the lack of enough THC—the compound that gives people the “high” sensation.

In fact, CBD proponents claim the substance is mainly used for its therapeutic benefits helping people relax, ease pain, anxiety, insomnia, and even depression.

Despite the fact that not many studies have been done on cannabidiol in human trials, as pointed out by a recent New York Times article, we are seeing an immense amount of CBD products being sold across the country, with Walgreens as the latest retailer to announce plans to sell creams, patches, and sprays in nearly 1,500 stores in select states.

So, why is it being pulled out of the restaurant space, specifically?

Although, the farm bill that was passed in December 2018 legalized industrial hemp in the U.S., this only means industrial hemp was removed from the controlled substance category. Anything that is put in foods and drinks has to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and, as of right now, CBD is not determined safe or effective for other health conditions aside from being an active ingredient in an approved drug that treats two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

The FDA regulations are something different and there’s a huge push from lawmakers to change this.

Since there is no federal law specifically addressing CBD-laced edibles, some states, like Colorado and Maine, have already attempted to clarify the status of the substance by passing laws allowing the addition of CBD to food, as reported by Reuters. California and Texas have introduced bi-partisan legislation to do the same, as reported by the Associated Press.

Last week, the FDA slated the first public hearing to take place May 31 to discuss how to regulate CBD food and beverage products.

In the meantime, here at Foodable, we are tracking the latest in this arena:

In a podcast episode of Chef AF, Chef Brandon Foster shares with us a personal anecdote about how CBD has positively affected a local farmer to The point where this person wanted to dedicate the rest of his available land to grow hemp for the CBD industry.

In an On Foodable Feature episode, our host Layla Harrison breaks down for our audience some of the CBD-infused products that have stood out from the rest.

And in a Barron Report podcast episode, we learned about Azuca— a company offering CBD and THC products ranging from edibles to sweet syrups.

We expect to continue hearing about ‘Culinary Cannabis’ and its impact on the restaurant business and society as a whole. so, stay tuned for more interesting content!

How The World's First OatMeals Cafe Has Reimagined The Use of The Traditional Grain

“I really believe that if you start your day with oatmeal you normally make better decisions throughout the rest of your day… So, this brand has a lot of legs in today’s world,” says Stephens.


On this episode of Emerging Brands, Samantha Stephens, chef and founder of OatMeals shares with Foodable the origins of her single-ingredient fast casual concept and how she built it from the ground up.

OatMeals is the world’s first oatmeal cafe located in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in New York known for its brownstones buildings. Stephens believes her brand in very on-trend right now especially with the rise of the health movement and all the benefits and versatility that oats have to offer.

What sets this concept apart is the fact that not only it is a business concept that revolves around oats, but also the fact that it aims to evaluate the way traditional breakfast meals involving oats have been regarded for decades.

“So, it’s a build-your-own toppings bar. We’re sort of putting a non-traditional twist on old-fashioned oatmeals...,” says Stephens. “The more and more I ate oatmeal the more I realized it’s very similar to risotto or rice… You could really think about it as like a savory side dish. It’s so versatile! It sort of adapts well to any kind of topping you put on it…”

Stephens went on to explain how she experimented with the grain by adding parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, truffle oil, goat cheese, eggs, and bacon. She offers savory oatmeals as well as the traditional breakfast and sweet oatmeal offerings.

Listen to the podcast above to learn about how Samantha Stephens gained the confidence to build this business, the challenges she faces when figuring out a reasonable price point for her menu items, and how her concept aims to stay relevant in the food world in terms of trends.

To learn more about the Shark Tank-backed concept—OatMeals— check out the The Barron Report Live video interview below!

Foodable Network Launches Chef AF a New Podcast

Today, Foodable is launching a new podcast — Chef AF, It’s All Food!— with Chef Jim Berman.

You may have already found out about the newest podcast addition to our show library, through The Barron Report’s latest piece where listeners had the chance to learn more about the chef and host.

Chef Berman has not only been a longtime Foodable expert contributor, but he’s also been a food writer for multiple publications while simultaneously working in and out of kitchens across the U.S.

Now, as the host of Chef AF, Chef Berman will have the chance to get his peers to “talk shop,” as he likes to say, in order to help other chefs and restaurant industry professionals navigate the wonderful yet complex kitchen life.

Chef AF, It’s All Food! is officially launching on Foodable Network today and it will soon be available in iTunes, Google Play and Spotify and other podcast listening platforms.

Listen to the first episode above to meet Berman and learn what you can expect to get from this new podcast!

How Souvla is Capitalizing on the Delivery Craze in San Francisco

In this episode of On Foodable, we are at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where Paul Barron sits down with Charles Bililies, Founder and CEO of Souvla— Lyft’s most traveled-to restaurant in the United States in 2017.

Souvla is a “fast-fine” Greek-American restaurant that Bililies dreamt up about nine years ago, inspired by casual souvlaki joints found throughout Greece.

“Souvla is very much Greek through and through, but nowhere around there will you see “traditional” or “authentic”. We definitely took a lot of liberties as I created the menu,” said Bililies. “Everything on there is sourced locally or it’s coming in from Greece. It’s sorta this Californian-Greek, if you will.”

Essentially he wanted to modernize the way people looked at gyros or souvlaki sandwiches here in America.

Bililies opened the first location in 2014 after about five years of looking for the perfect real estate location. Shortly after Souvla opened, he started seeing the rise of delivery becoming a “thing” in San Francisco.

Fast forward to today, on average, Souvla can pump out between 150 and 225 delivery orders a day. An impressive number coming from an upscale counter service restaurant.

With delivery in mind, Bililies decided to open its fourth location in the Marina neighborhood with a sidewalk facing pick-up window. They successfully were able to lobby the city to allow them to put in a white zone or a passenger loading zone. Bililies believes this is going to be a huge allure and convenience for customers since by doing this people won’t have trouble finding parking or worrying about double parking, etc.

Check out the episode above to see footage of their new location, learn about the restaurant’s menu offerings, and its magic price point making the concept above fast casual but still under fine dining.

Video Produced by:

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writer & Producer


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