Saucy Wench debuts at Fancy Food Show in San Francisco
Working with Buyers Best Friend, Saucy Wench was proudly prominent at the Buyer’s Best Friend display booth in the North Hall. Mary Altman was present to expose to interested attendees the virtues, values, and excellence of Saucy Wench BBQ sauce.
Fancy Food Show – San Francisco Moscone Center – 2013
For those unfamiliar with the Fancy Food Show, it is an exposition of local, regional, national, and international producers of all variety of foods from spices to sauces, from cheeses to chocolates, and everything in between.
In attendance were approximately 17,000+ foodies and trend-seekers prowling the aisles of some 1,300 exhibitors for the newest, hottest and buzziest edibles.
Saucy Wench first visited the San Francisco Fancy Food Show in 2011. At that time, Saucy Wench was hand-made at a local commercial kitchen by the owners. While the product was well received by all who partook, the next step was to ascertain whether the sauce was special enough to be considered competitive. To aide in deciding whether to go forward, we decided that we should perform (an obviously biased) comparison and contrast with sauces on display at Fancy Food Show. Our goal was to assure that our sauce be deemed unique, special, and competitive. And if we deemed it so, we would go forward on the next step of sauce producers, i.e. engaging a co-packer.
To be honest, of the dozens of sauces sampled, we did encounter some very good sauces. None, however, were similar in taste characteristics to Saucy Wench. Of those deemed most notable, and on the drawing board for some future release from Saucy Wench, were fruit infused versions of barbecue sauces.
The other specialty BBQ sauces most intriguing were those focusing in on spiciness. The variations of peppers used included: jalapeño, chipotle, habanero, cayenne, producing various degrees of “hotness.” These same producers were also masters on whether the heat was felt first-on or sometime after initially tasted, and how long the hotness prevailed. Saucy Wench’s attitude is that spiciness should not distract from the taste characteristic of the sauce and especially from the food item being complimented by the sauce.
Fancy Food Promenade
In our 2013 visit, our promenade through the San Francisco Fancy Food Show started with the North Hall, which appeared to host, with quite a few exceptions, the smaller newer producers. Our objective was to rub shoulders with similar producers as us, possible suppliers for our ingredients, shipping agents, and co-packers. At the same time, we attempted to ascertain whether the competition is producing a similar product. We renewed contact with Sonoma Gourmet, a purveyor of excellent sauces out of Sonoma County, Heritage Family Specialty Foods Company out Grand Prairie, Texas, as well as Paradigm Foodworks, Inc out of Oregon. From the ingredient perspective, we found agreement with other sauce producers, fire roasted pureed jalapeño is almost impossible to get on the West Coast, while the producers in the mid-west seemed to either have it readily available or produce it themselves.
After three hours in the North Hall, exhausted, stuffed beyond capacity with delectable samples of all sorts of food items, we mustered up Herculean resolve, reviewed our map of booths for must-see food exhibitors, and charged forward into the cavernous South Hall. Our chosen route, from west to east, exposed us to a large variety of cheese producers, and, oh my goodness, there were many phenomenal cheeses, and while our focus was obviously elsewhere, we were especially impressed with the cheeses out of Wisconsin. In addition, we explored possibilities with Original Juan, another purveyor of barbecue sauces out of Kansas.
The international booths featured exhibitors from thirty-one countries. The countries with the most exhibitors were the Canadian, Italian, French, and Japanese. Our European counterparts generally provide an early in-sight into ingredient trends happenings including removal of high fructose corn syrup, organic, no GMO, etc.
Fancy Food Show Special Services
No overview of the Fancy Food Show would be complete without special mention of their Education Program. For food producer want-to-be’s, they offered courses including Nine Critical Steps to Support your Start-up, Top Ten Mistakes Beginning Manufacturers Make and How to Avoid Them, and Understanding Pricing for Beginning Manufacturers.
One service, Saucy Wench partook, was a coaching session in the use of social media as part of your overall marketing effort. We met with Nicole Ravlin of PMG Public Relations. Her advice, instruction, and demonstration were invaluable. I highly recommend her for your public relations needs and requirements.
Fancy Food Show Concluding Remarks
For the new food producer, I do recommend attendance to the Fancy Food Show in your area. To do it right, scour the education services (seminars, intros/meetings, etc.) provided by Fancy Food and attend. They are invaluable.
It would very worthwhile to break up your exhibitor tour into two days, interlacing classes/seminars between different sections of exhibitors. Do put your notes and impressions on the cards and pamphlets collected from the different exhibitors. If your group is big enough, divide into two, to compare notes at the end of the day, because it is quite likely one group will have missed something of note.