Eight Colorado artisan food and beverage products have been selected as winners in the Good Food Awards 2013. The list includes: the Chili Verde from Pagosa Brewing Company, Goat Cheddar from Avalanche Cheese Company, two chocolate bars from Ritual Chocolate - Costa Rica and Madagascar, Fleur de Sel Butter Caramels from Serendipity Confections, Dancing Pines Distillery's Bourbon Whiskey & Rum, Leopold Bros' Navy Strength Gin, and the Powder White Rum from Syntax Spirits.
Blind tastings by 150 judges narrowed the 1,366 entries to 183 finalists which were announced early December. The group was whittled down to 99 winners who were honored in a special ceremony hosted by Alice Waters in San Francisco on January 18. The winners were showcased to the public on January 19 at the Good Food Marketplace in San Francisco's Ferry Building. Visitors had the opportunity to taste, buy, and meet the producers behind the honored foods.
The selection process for the Good Food Awards is rigorous on more than one level. "I actually had to call Morning Fresh Dairy and learn more about their husbandry practices," Rebecca Cassity, owner of Serendipity Confections who uses the Morning Fresh milk in her caramels, said. "Before you're even named a finalist you may have to answer many additional questions from the panel regarding the sources of your ingredients, the practices of the suppliers you work with, and how well you know those suppliers," she added. "We sent in our Navy Strength Gin together with a description of how it's made, and what materials we use," Todd Leopold of Leopold's Bros explained. "But they also place an emphasis on sustainable manufacturing practices, asking about everything from your corks to the glues you use to adhere your labels," he added.
The awards and recognition bring more than prestige to the winners. "During the one day since the winners were announced the award has already introduced my products to thousands of new potential customers, including a number of store owners, and I think I'm going to continue seeing this effect for a while," Rebecca Cassity explained. Todd Leopold of Leopold's Bros. appreciates the emphasis that the Good Food Awards place on sustainable production processes. "My brother has a MS in Environmental Engineering from Stanford, and has worked hard to make our distillery as energy and material efficient as possible, so it's nice to get him an award for the work he does," Leopold said. "It also helps our customers understand that we make food- real fruit, real grain, no artificial color, flavorings, or stabilizers, unlike the majority of the spirits on the shelf," he continued.
Some of the Colorado winners attended the ceremony. The duo behind Ritual Chocolate, Robbie Stout and Anna Davies, were among them. "It has been a great time in San Francisco. We had an opportunity to meet old customers, shop owners we worked with from Los Angeles and Seattle, and the timing of the awards also matched up with the Fine Chocolate Industry Association annual meeting," Stout said. By the end of the month, Stout shared that Ritual will add two additional single-source chocolate bars to its collection- the Balao, made with cacao beans from Ecuador, and the Grand Couva, crafted with beans from Trinidad.
The full list of winners is available on the Good Foods Awards website.
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