New foodservice foods and beverages often don’t generate the same buzz as their retail counterparts. Nevertheless, these commercial and non-commercial items require just as much product development expertise. 

One group recognizing new foodservice product achievements is the National Restaurant Association (NRA), which hosts a judged Food and Beverage (FABI) Award competition each year prior to the group’s annual May Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago. This year’s judges recognized 36 FABI Award products for their positive benefits to restaurant operators and consumers. An independent panel of experts—representing a variety of both commercial and non-commercial industry segments—reviewed all products.

 “The FABI Awards offer restaurant operators an inside look at the future of food and beverage as the industry continues to innovate and move forward,” said Atour Eyvazian, convention chair for NRA Show 2017 and multi-unit owner of 107 Jack in the Box restaurants in Houston and San Antonio. “It’s very exciting to discover new flavors, on-trend menu items and delicious food that’s both nutritious and allergy-friendly.”

This year’s FABI judges were Timothy J. Dietzler, director of dining services, Villanova University; Lori Estrada, senior vice president of R&D, Wendy’s; Christopher Koetke, CEC CCE HAAC, vice president, The School of Culinary Arts, Kendall College; John Li, senior vice president of RD, Bloomin’ Brands; Robin Rosenberg, vice president, chef de cuisine, Levy Restaurants; Lee Ann Shaw, global procurement director-Hot Beverages and Snacks, Aramark; and Bret Thorn, senior food editor, Nation’s Restaurant News.


2017 FABI Award recipients include: 

Company: ACE Bakery/Weston Foods

Product: Baguette Bagel
Description: Handcrafted using nothing but simple ingredients (flour, water, salt, yeast) and absolutely no preservatives, Baguette Bagels possess a creamy texture, airy interior and crisp, golden crust—the same characteristics we love in a French baguette, but in the shape of this iconic staple! Arriving frozen and pre-sliced for limited waste and flexibility, these non-GMO bagels are lighter, and have fewer calories per serving than traditional bagels.

Company: Atalanta Corporation

Product: Roasted Porchetta with Herbs
Description: Made using pork loins wrapped in pork belly, this flavorful, all-natural Porchetta is marinated in a scented brine of traditional Tuscan herbs and spices for 48 hours before being slow roasted for more than 10 hours and glazed with the same spice mix.

Company: Beyond Meat

Product: The Beyond Burger
Description: The world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks and satisfies like fresh ground beef, The Beyond Burger is non-GMO, soy free and gluten-free, providing a delicious way for consumers to reduce their red meat intake. Although completely plant-based, it cooks through like a regular burger, features the same juicy deliciousness, but with a better nutritional profile than ground beef including 20g of protein per serving.

Company: Boulart

Product: Individually Wrapped Ciabatta Bites
Description: These award-winning Ciabatta Bites now come individually wrapped in heatable packaging, allowing operators to keep the breads both warm and individually sealed, improving inventory management and waste. Fully baked and frozen for maximum flexibility, the bread contains no preservatives or additives; is Non-GMO Project Verified as well as kosher and vegan; and has a barcode if sold at retail.

Company: Boulart

Product: Original Flat Sandwich Bun
Description: Recognizing consumer demand to minimize calories, Boulart has transformed its classic Ciabatta recipe into a much thinner profile while maintaining the same airy texture, crispy crust and holding power. Fully baked and frozen to allow for quick reheating and waste reduction, the pre-sliced bun contains no preservatives or additives and is Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan and kosher.

Company: Boulart

Product: Olive Oil and Fine Herbs Focaccia
Description: Made with simple ingredients like olive oil, sea salt and herbs, this focaccia comes fully baked and frozen, so it can be thawed or reheated as needed, a great way to reduce kitchen waste and manage inventory. Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, Parve and free of additives and preservatives, this deliciously versatile bread is perfect for sandwiches, a pizza base or just by itself.

Company: The Coca-Cola Company

Product: Barrilitos Aguas Frescas
Description: Delivering a refreshing, naturally flavored taste with only 50-60 calories per 8oz. serving, this line of aguas frescas consists of lightly sweetened, flavor-enhanced water beverages available in seven flavors, including fruit fusions and authentic Mexican flavors like Horchata and Tamarind. All are flavored with real fruit juices, purees and/or spices—perfect for the consumers who want less sugar without sacrificing taste.

Company: Colonel Pabst

Product: Worcestershire Sauce
Description: Flexible as a marinade, finishing sauce and cocktail complement, this small-batch Worcestershire Sauce from an old Pabst Family recipe using all-malt Milwaukee lager beer and 20 other all-natural ingredients from around the world, is simply the finest, most flavorful on the market today.

Company: Diamond Crystal Brands

Product: Salt for Life Stick and Canister
Description: Salt for Life combines potassium salt with sodium salt to create a product that contains 50% less sodium than table salt, while still delivering the same taste and performance as full sodium salt(s). Salt for Life greatly improves the nutritional profiles of all foods by replacing this sodium with potassium, an essential and greatly under-consumed nutrient. This clean label, GMO Free and naturally sourced blend is available in canisters for back-of-house usage by chefs, or individual sticks for front-of-house use by health-conscious patrons.

Company: The Eli’s Cheesecake Company

Product: Butter Tart
Description: Handmade in small batches with the finest ingredients, Eli’s Butter Tart offers an upscale dessert experience in a versatile format: bulk for foodservice or individually wrapped for grab-and-go applications. Certified kosher and shipped frozen to cut down on waste, this decadent dessert—a sweet, gooey, chewy filling baked in a crisp all-butter pâte sucrée crust—is delicious served warm or cold.

Company: The Eli’s Cheesecake Company

Product: Salted Caramel Tart
Description: Chef-created in a three-inch serving size, this decadent tart features salted caramel topped with rich milk chocolate ganache sprinkled with sea salt and layered atop a scratch-made all-butter pâte sucrée crust. Certified kosher and available individually wrapped or in bulk packs, Eli’s Salted Caramel Tart ships frozen, providing operators a sophisticated and flexible pre-packaged dessert option.

Company: FGF Brands, Inc.

Product: Stonefire Ancient Grain Mini Naan
Description: Baked on stone in a tandoor oven at high heat to create the signature bubbles and texture found in traditional naan, Stonefire Ancient Grain Mini Naan—made with ancient grains, quinoa, spelt, buckwheat, kamut and a touch of honey—taps into consumer desire for high-quality, authentic, healthy and great-tasting artisanal products.

Company: FGF Brands, Inc.

Product: Stonefire Fire Roasted Garlic Naan
Description: Made in small batches with authentic ingredients such as fresh buttermilk, ghee, fire-roasted garlic and cilantro, the naan is then hand-stretched and baked on stone in a tandoor oven at high heat, resulting in large bubbles, smoky flavor and an airy texture. Free from artificial preservatives and flavors, this artisanal bread delivers exceptional taste, texture and appearance.

Company: Franz Bakery

Product: Brazi Bites
Description: A perfect blend of the finest, hand-picked ingredients—like fresh cheese, eggs and milk—Brazi Bites Brazilian Cheese Bread are crispy outside, fluffy inside and simply delightful. And because it uses tapioca flour, it’s naturally gluten-free. Whether served hot from the oven, as an appetizer or side dish, Brazi Bites are designed to go from freezer to oven with no prep to keep versatility high and low labor and waste.

Company: Franz Bakery

Product: Gluten-Free Breads
Description: Designed for consumers looking for gluten-based offerings, these breads, buns and bagels aren’t dense and dry like most gluten-free products. Free of wheat, soy, dairy and nuts, they can be served fresh, as a component in a recipe, or toasted. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) allows for extended shelf life, cutting down on waste and preserving freezer space.

Company: The J.M. Smucker Company

Product: Sahale Snacks Bars}
Description: Crafted with thoughtfully sourced ingredients that offer balanced flavors and delightful textures, each snack bar pairs Sahale Snacks signature glazed nuts with fruits and spices blended in crispy puffed ancient grains and layered on creamy cashew nut butter. With 5g of protein per bar and no artificial ingredients, Sahale Snacks Bars are the perfect portable snack to recharge the body and mind.

Company: Kiki’s Gluten-Free Foods, LLC

Product: Gluten-Free Biscuit Sandwich
Description: The first frozen gluten-free biscuit sandwich now available in foodservice is the perfect breakfast or lunch option for gluten-free consumers on the go. Individually wrapped in plastic to prevent gluten cross-contamination and available in a variety of options, these delicious biscuit sandwiches can be microwaved from frozen or quickly baked and kept under warming lights for over an hour without getting soggy.

Company: Mike’s Hot Honey

Product: Mike’s Hot Honey
Description: Featuring a flavor profile of sweet honey that gives way to a slow, intense heat blooming on the back of the palate, this chili pepper-infused honey makes for an incredibly versatile condiment, pairing deliciously with pizza, chicken, ribs, biscuits, salads, cheese—even ice cream and cocktails. Made with honey sourced from upstate New York and chili peppers from Brazil, Mike’s Hot Honey takes ordinary dishes to the next level.

Company: Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company

Product: Freshly Handcrafted Blood Orange Juice
Description: Handcrafted from the highest quality, fresh Sicilian blood oranges, this juice is minimally processed and clean labeled; free from preservatives, flavor packs, concentrates and artificial ingredients. Natalie’s Blood Orange Juice is produced in small batches to retain quality and nutrition. Perfect as a mixer, a beverage or even an ingredient, Blood Orange Juice provides restaurants and bars with a nutritious and unique option.

Company: PepsiCo Foodservice

Product: Sabra Guac N Go
Description: A delicious, convenient snack divided into two compartments, one containing a serving of Sabra guacamole made with ripe, fresh Hass avocados, the other crispy Tostito Rolls. At 2.8 oz., Sabra Guac N Go delivers 60% more product with approximately 15% fewer calories than comparable products.

Company: PepsiCo Foodservice

Product: Stubborn Soda
Description: Stubborn Soda is a line of premium, boldly flavored sodas made without compromise, delivering unexpected flavor combinations such as Black Cherry with Tarragon and Lemon Berry Acai without using high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or sweeteners. It’s available on fountain and now in 12oz glass bottles, each containing 90-100 calories.

Company: Pinnacle Foods Group

Product: Duncan Hines Perfect Size for 1 Cakes
Description: With many unique varieties available, including Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Chip Muffin, Carrot Cake and Confetti Cake, these conveniently pre-portioned, pre-mixed cake mixes come in a pouch. Just add water and bake in any microwave safe cup, bowl, mug or dish for a delicious cake in about a minute.

Company: Pinnacle Foods Group

Product: Gardein Meatless Italian Pizza Crumbles
Description: Seasoned with garlic, spices and red bell pepper, this versatile, completely vegan meatless pork crumble simulates the texture and flavor of real pork meat. Perfect as a pizza topping, in a sauce, or part of a stuffing, it couldn’t be easier to use—just bake, grill or sauté right out of the package.

Company: Powell & Mahoney, Ltd.

Product: Blood Orange Ginger Beer
Description: Naturally flavored with ginger, cane sugar and blood orange extract, Blood Orange Ginger Beer puts an innovative twist on traditional Ginger Beer. Its combination of tang, sweetness and spice allowing for a complex cocktail. Packaged in single-serve cans for ease of use and waste reduction, the beverage makes a perfect base for cocktails such as the Moscow Mule and Dark & Stormy, and can also be offered as a unique mocktail.

Company: Red Gold

Product: Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Ketchup}
Description: Combining intensely flavorful sun-ripened chili peppers, garlic and premium tomato ketchup made with real sugar (not high fructose corn syrup), Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Ketchup delivers the delicious taste that consumers demand in hotter and spicier foods. Whether served from 8gr packets, 20oz squeeze bottles or 1.5gal dispenser pouches, it is the perfect addition of sweet heat in your condiment lineup that is sure to drive sales growth of signature sandwiches, side dishes and appetizers.

Company: Rishi Tea

Product: Rishi Craft Brew
Description: Sure to disrupt the rapidly expanding draft beverage market, this innovative draft tea beverage—produced by the artful combination of old school micro-brew methods and new school cold-brew techniques—offers the hydrating effect of coconut water, the buzz of cold-brew coffee and the healthful appeal of kombucha. Each keg is brewed from premium organic tea leaves and botanicals and, unlike tap kombucha, the beverage contains no added sugar and is virtually calorie-free.

Company: Sabatino Tartufi

Product: Truffle Zest
Description: A revolutionary powdered form of truffles, Truffle Zest is the perfect seasoning for pastas, pizzas, potatoes, vegetables, eggs, rice, meats and more! Offered in a range of sizes, easily sprinkle it onto any dish, fold into butter or mix into sauces! It’s the low-calorie, low-sodium way to get truffle flavor into a dish—at a fraction of the price.

Company: Sevillo Fine Foods

Product: Harissa Sauce
Description: Often referred to by chefs as the next Sriracha, Harissa packs a spicy punch with its aromatic blend of red chili peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and spices. Sevillo Harissa Sauce is all-natural, preservative-free and made with the highest-quality ingredients. Delivered frozen, Harissa is ready to thaw and serve, saving chefs hours of prep and cook time. This flavorful, versatile sauce has a five-week refrigerated shelf life.

Company: Sevillo Fine Foods

Product: Slow Roasted Tomato Sofrito
Description: This healthy and delicious blend of diced slow-roasted tomatoes, lightly sautéed onions, the finest oil, herbs and spices can be used as a sauce, spread or base for a variety of dishes, including salsas, stews, rice and meats. All-natural, preservative-free and made with artisan-quality ingredients, Sevillo Slow Roasted Sofrito saves chefs hours of prep and cook time. Delivered frozen, Sofrito is ready to thaw and serve, with a five-week refrigerated shelf life.

Company: SIPP eco beverage co., Inc.

Product: Sipp Sparkling Organics 
Description: USDA-certified organic and free from preservatives, artificial flavors or coloring, Sipp fills the niche between traditional soda and sparkling water. Lightly sweetened with agave and featuring multiple layers of unique flavors, this craft soda is packaged in 10.5oz slim cans to deliver less sugar and fewer calories than traditional 12oz sizes, while also keeping the beverage colder longer and the carbonation just right.

Company: Sir Kensington’s

Product: Fabanaise
Description: This vegan mayonnaise utilizes aquafaba, a natural byproduct of the chickpea cooking process, as the egg replacement, creating a more natural-tasting mayo product. With no soy, egg, pea, or otherwise modified protein powder, the texture and taste are second-to-none. Fabanaise is the first commercial product to use aquafaba, making it appealing to those drawn to egg-free innovation.

Company: Sweet Street Desserts

Product: Individually Wrapped Manifesto Cookies and Bars
Description: Made with high-quality ingredients such as sustainable Peruvian chocolate and hormone-free dairy, these convenient grab-and-go snacks—free of high fructose corn syrup, GMOs and artificial colors and flavorings—come in five decadent flavors, including chocolate-chip cookies and brownies.

Company: Sweet Street Desserts

Product: Manifesto Bake-off Cookies
Description: Featuring eight decadently wholesome flavors, every batch of these handcrafted cookies starts with all-butter dough mixed with sustainable chocolates and cage-free eggs. Free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavorings and GMOs, Manifesto Bake-off Cookies are in line with trending consumer demands and purchase habits.

Company: Venice Bakery

Product: Gluten-Free Dough Ball
Description: Formulated with a consistency that’s easy to work with, the Gluten-Free Dough Ball bakes like traditional pizza dough, with beautiful golden brown air bubbles and a light, perfectly chewy bite. Conveniently shipped in individual bags to reduce the risk of cross contamination, the dough is ready to slack-out and proof, reducing labor and space required to make dough from scratch.

Company: Vidalia Brands

Product: Vidalia Dressings
Description: Based on Southern family recipes, these decadent dressings come in six new varieties, each showcasing the unmistakably sweet flavor of Vidalia onions. Made from all-natural ingredients to satisfy health-conscious consumers, each dressing is gluten-free and contains no preservatives, MSG, artificial colors or flavors, trans fats or high fructose corn syrup.

Company: Wild Flour Bakery, LLC

Product: Ready to Bake Gluten Free Dough; Pizza & Hoagie Rolls 
Description: Artisan, small-batch and 100% yeast-raised, Wild Flour Bakery has created the only gluten-free pizza dough in the industry able to take the 900+°F temps of wood, coal, gas or infrared ovens without par-baking or burned edges. Press out or shape to create derivative products, including calzones, Stromboli, bread sticks, even sweet rolls—it’s all the flexibility offered by wheat dough but without gluten, eggs, corn or soy. Also available as fresh, soft Hoagie rolls.  

Originally appeared in the August, 2017 issue of Prepared Foods as Show and Tell.