East Bayites Win Good Food Awards

The competition rewards sustainable American crafters — such as Richmond's Falcon Spirits Distillery and Oakland's Purely Drinks.


Image by Kristan Lawson

Several East Bay makers have scored gold in this year's Good Food Awards

Announced last week, the winners of this prestigious annual competition — which celebrates responsible American crafters — include San Leandro-based Cleophus Quealy Beer Company (for its Strawberry Rhubarb Sour); Berkeley-based Fra' Mani Handcrafted Foods (for its Salametto); Richmond-based Incontro Cured (for its Jamón Mangalitsa); Albany-based Picnic (for its Chicken Liver Mousse); Oakland-based Purely Drinks (for its Chai Spice Pear Shrub); Richmond-based Far West Cider Co (for its OB Amarillo); Concord-based Tsar Nicoulai Caviar (for its Smoked Sturgeon); Livermore-based Workhouse Rye (for its Salted Cacao Bitters); Berkeley-based Jack Rabbit California Olive Oil (for its Frantoio Variety); Fremont-based Akka's Handcrafted Foods (for its Tomato Chutney); and Richmond-based Falcon Spirits Distillery (for its Botanica Spiritvs Barrel Finished Gin).

It was a tight race as the 2019 winners come from 34 states along with Washington, DC, having risen to the top amongst 2,035 sustainably-crafted-in-the-USA entries in a blind tasting among 262 judges. 

The highest-scoring entries in that blind tasting then underwent a rigorous vetting process underscoring not only their taste and other foodly qualities but also the social-responsibility criteria that all Good Food Award winners must uphold.

Of the 220 winners chosen from among 325 finalists, over half are first-time winners. 

“Through your very existence – by growing and thriving and continuing on through seasons of boom and bust – you show everyone that America’s appetite for truly good food is here to stay," said Good Food Awards Foundation director Sarah Weiner to competing artisans at the gala awards ceremony in San Francisco last week, where Jessica Harris was keynote speaker and Alice Waters was in attendance.

"At a time when the message of ‘us versus them’ grows louder, you quietly yet firmly send a different message about how this country works and what we value," Weiner said.

"Every day – through the choice to protect our land and waters, to pay fairly and transparently, to build community wellness alongside your businesses – you say, ‘All of us or none of us.'”

The wide array of winners included some stunners such as Lilikoi-Ginger-Turmeric Fruit Rolls from Maui Fruit Rolls, based in Haiku-Pauwela, Hawaii; Colorado Green Chili Potato Chips from Morgan Handmade Rations of Denver, CO; Vanilla Bean Goat's Milk Caramel Sauce from Fat Toad Farm of Brookfield, VT; and "Carmato" Heirloom Tomato Caramels from Roots Chocolates of Wisconsin Dells, WI. 

East Bayites among the competition's two dozen-plus organizers, supporters, and collaborative members are Berkeley-based Ten Speed Press and Berkeley- and Oakland-based Market Hall Foods.

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