National Restaurant Association (NRA) officials have recognized some of the industry’s most creative new offerings with NRA’s 2014 Food and Beverage Innovations (FABI) Awards.

NRA says an independent panel of experts—representing a variety of both commercial and non-commercial industry segments—selected FABI Award recipients based on “their exciting benefits to restaurant operators, as well as the end-consumer.” Officials say the innovations represent new packaging designs and solutions in efficiency and waste reduction—as well as alternatives to satisfy consumer desires for gluten-free, artisan and vegan menu items.

NRA showcased FABI Award winners during the 2014 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, May 17-20, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“Food and beverage innovation helps advance menu development, driving customer satisfaction and increasing restaurant traffic,” says Sam Facchini, NRA convention chair for NRA Show 2014 and co-founder and co-owner of Metro Pizza.

“This year’s FABI Award recipients provide operators with opportunities to improve efficiencies and attract new guest segments by meeting a wide variety of consumer demands. Virtually any operation, of any shape or size, can benefit from one or more of these innovations, making them a must-see part of NRA Show 2014,” continues Facchini.


2014 FABI award recipients include:


Pizza flour

Product: Skura Nera Pizza Flour
Company: Atalanta Corporation, Elizabeth, N.J.
Description: “A modern development of an ancient technique, this distinctive flour blend provides smoky flavor profiles to artisanal-style products and can be used to create unique pizza, pasta or bread.”

Product: Sweety Drop Peppers
Company: Atalanta Corporation, Elizabeth, N.J.
Description: “Discovered growing in the Amazon rainforest, this new, versatile and unique pepper has a colorful appearance, sweet flavor and can be used to add a signature twist to salads, pizzas, pastas and more.”

Product: Gourmet Cafe Creative Classics from Fresh Express
Company: Chiquita Brands North America, Charlotte, N.C.
Description: “Incorporating creative and unique ingredients into classic salad recipes, this new line of salads delivers a great-tasting, healthy and convenient menu option for operators with 15 days of shelflife.”

Pizza flour, gluten free flour

Product: Gluten Free Flour
Company: Deya’s Gluten Free, New York City
Description: “This gluten-free flour blend uses dried egg whites as a key ingredient and is designed as a one-for-one replacement, without the characteristic differences in texture or aftertaste, allowing operators to easily make gluten-free versions of flour-based recipes.”


Gardein Vegan Fishless Filets

Product: Gardein Vegan Fishless Filets
Company: Gardein, Richmond, B.C.
Description: “Made with non-GMO soy and wheat, ancient grains and veggies, these filets deliver the taste, texture and omega-3s of fish with no cholesterol or trans-fat—providing operators a healthy menu option that is a good source of fiber, 100% vegan and kosher-certified.”


dressings, sauces and condiments, low sodium, fat-free

Product:  Flavor Fresh & House Blend Liquid Portions Line
Company: Diamond Crystal Brands, Savannah, Ga.
Description: “A new line of flavorful dressings, sauces and condiments that are low-sodium and trans fat-free with no added high-fructose corn syrup or gluten-containing ingredients; [the line has been] developed to appeal to K-12 students, while helping schools provide healthier menus.”


Gluten Free Deep Dish Pizza

Product: Gluten Free Deep Dish Pizza
Company: Kiki’s Gluten Free Foods, LLC, Arlington Heights, Ill.
Description: “Frozen and packaged to prevent cross contamination, this is the first commercially available gluten-free deep dish pizza, allowing operators to offer a quality, Chicago-style pizza that accommodates guests with gluten-free diets.”

Thick and Easy HP Shaped Purees

Product: Thick & Easy HP Shaped Purees
Company: Hormel Health Labs and Diamond Crystal Brands, Savannah, Ga.
Description: “Designed for people with swallowing difficulties, these pureed meat and vegetable products provide high-protein, low-sodium nutrition without sacrificing taste or visual appearance.”

Product: Schmacon Smoked & Cured Glazed Beef Slices
Company: Schmaltz Products, LLC
Description: “Beef’s full-flavored new answer to bacon, this patent-pending product allows operators to deliver a high-quality alternative to pork bacon with significantly less fat, sodium and calories than pork bacon.”


The 2014 FABI judges included Carlyn Berghoff, CEO, Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group; John Li, senior vice president, research & development, Bloomin Brands, Inc.; Jeff McClure, director of culinary services, Sodexo Education Market; Deborah McDaniel, senior director, product innovation and development-menu development, McDonald’s USA, LLC; Mary Angela Miller, administrative director, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center; Brad Nelson, vice president and corporate chef, Marriott International; Linda Sceurman, national director of nutrition and menu development, Aramark Education; William J. Spencer, chief, Air Force Appropriated Fund F&B Operations, San Antonio, Tex.; Brian Wilson, senior culinary development chef, Bob Evans Farms Inc.; and Ed Wronski, director, culinary and concept development, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.