Spread the news! If the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show is any indication, consumers literally have a taste for travel—or at least they certainly want to try flavorful new dishes with ethnic appeal. 

Of the 36 NRA Food and Beverage Awards (FABI) issued this year, eight winners were new sauces, spreads and dressings and nearly all those of featured an ethnic twist—particularly with Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. Interestingly enough, four of six FABI award-winning ethnic sauces hailed from just two companies: Brooklyn Delhi, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Sud’n’Sol, based in Estillac, France.

Brooklyn Delhi’s products are variations on an Indian pantry staple called achaar. The company says achaar (pronounced ah-char; “pickled” in Hindi) is a condiment made from vegetables and fruits, aromatic spices and chili peppers and is something akin to India’s equivalent to sriracha (although without sugar).  Traditionally, achaar is eaten with rice, dal, curry or yogurt. 

Brooklyn Delhi says its FABI-winning Roasted Garlic Achaar offers the nuttiness of roasted garlic, Indian spices, lemon and sugar. Part savory, spicy, sour and a tad sweet—it can be added to any number of dishes to boost flavor and add international excitement. Officials say the FABI-winning Tomato Achaar is an “artisanal, Indian-inspired chutney and spread...made from locally grown tomatoes, tamarind, Indian spices and red chili powder. Its unique combination of savory, spicy and tangy flavors adds complexity that outdoes harissa, ketchup or salsa in any recipe.”

Sud’n’Sol says its Pepper Spread features homemade taste and clean label ingredients sourced from the Mediterranean region. This blend of roasted red peppers and Mediterranean spices may be added to soups, sauces, dips and spreads. The company’s Tomato Spread is made from all natural, roasted red tomatoes.

Atalanta Corporation, a Elizabeth, N.J., importer, won a FABI award for MENU Shakshuka sauce. Created in Italy, the small-batch, kettle-cooked sauce can be used to make shakshuka, the traditional Israeli egg dish; or foodservice operators can use it to create their own entrees.

Grecian Delight Foods, Elk Grove Village, Ill., also won a FABI award for its Garlic Sauce.

“This authentic Middle Eastern sauce and dip is one of the official accompaniments to Shawarma,” the company says. “Made with labna (strained Lebanese yogurt), its rich texture and robust garlic flavor offer endless versatility, whether as a topping for meats, a delicious sandwich spread, a craveable dip for fries or vegetables or something of chef’s own invention.”

Another 2018 FABI winner was Sabatino North America LLC, the West Haven, Conn., subsidiary of Italian truffle specialist Sabatino Tartufi. With truffles trending on restaurant menus, Sabatino developed a Truffle Soy Sauce. 

“This truly unique take on traditional soy sauce adds the luxurious taste of truffles for a heightened umami experience,” the company says. “Truffle soy sauce can transform a traditional dish into something a bit more interesting, creating new flavor profiles for rice, sushi, dumplings, edamame, marinades and more.”

How about a twist on a Mexican salsa? Another 2018 FABI winner was a Beet Salsa from Love Beets, Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Officials say Love Beets’ Sweet Chili beets are combined with fresh green peppers, onion, jalapeño and cilantro for a light, spicy salsa with a unique balance of sweetness. 

Yet another winning product with ethnic appeal is a Spicy Jerk Dressing with Hemp Seeds from GFF Inc., City of Industry, Calif. GFF, also known as Girard’s, won the 2017 “Dressing of the Year Award” from the Association of Dressings & Sauces. 

“Consumers tastes are always changing. We developed this formulation to address the increasing popularity of ethnic-inspired flavors and new ingredients such as hemp seeds, which contain healthy fats, omega 3’s, protein and essential nutrients,” said Mary dela Peña, vice president of technical services and quality at Girard’s (GFF Inc).


On Trend, Clean Label

Aside from ethnic twists, sauce and dressing companies also have been busy adding more flavors and addressing consumers’ clean label and ingredient sourcing interests. 

It was back in 2016 that Ken’s Foods Inc., Marlborough, Mass., introduced Ken’s Essentials, a line of foodservice dressings with no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or preservatives. More recently, Ken’s introduced a Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette and announced that its mayonnaise and all egg-based sauces now feature cage-free eggs. 

Another industry leader, Litehouse Inc., Sandpoint, Idaho, has introduced four new versatile aioli sauces—including Basil Pesto, Garlic Asiago, Chipotle and Lemon—that serve as a dip or as a spread on sandwiches or burgers. Separately, the company also introduced a new White Pizza Sauce and two non-high fructose corn syrup BBQ sauces: Kansas City Style Original BBQ and Kansas City Style Spicy BBQ. Officials say all new Litehouse products are free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors and artificial preservatives.

Hak’s, Los Angeles, has been known for its barbecue sauces, cooking sauces and shelf-stable dressings. This year saw the company use the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit to launch an eight-item line of refrigerated, single-use packaged salad dressings (gluten free, Non-GMO Project Verified) and four new clean label organic refrigerated dressings.

Still more interesting new offerings also come from California. Another NRA Show exhibitor was Just for All, a San Francisco company with plant-based mayos and dressings Non-GMO, egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free. Similarly, there’s Bitchin’ Sauce, a Carlsbad, Calif., company using almonds as its primary ingredient. The company has recently branched into foodservice with its Cilantro and Chipotle sauces, both of which are certified vegan, Non-GMO and gluten-free. Operators can use each on sandwiches, burgers, wraps, burritos, bowls, and as a vegan sauce.  

Originally appeared in the August, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as No Passport Needed.