Good Food Awards 2012
This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend the Good Food Awards in San Francisco and spent time rubbing elbows with some of the culinary greats in: chocolate, cheese, pickles, charcuterie, preserves, beer, spirits, and of course coffee. It was a double pleasure because I was there representing Counter Culture as a winner for the second year in row. (Only one other company in coffee won both years.) Not only was I excited to be there for Counter Culture, but truth be told I was really excited to know that the coffee we won with was from Haru the Ethiopian Cooperative in Yirgacheffe we started buying from this past year.

Now if you were not in the loop last year, a whole big ruckus was started over what qualified in coffee as being eligible for the award – in particular whether or not a coffee had to be certified organic or not. This year it was settled that indeed the coffee needed to be certified, and this brought a whole new ruckus of criticism. Mainly this was because none of the other categories needed to be certified organic, which made people feel that the coffee category was going too far and really being unjustified and unfair. I see that side of it, but all I felt instead was that coffee was the field leading the pack in what is considered a "good food," and I was proud to be a part of the only category with this standard.

Looking past the hubbub on standards and protocols, the actual awards evening brought a parade of great food people to be awarded and to take the stage to talk about their industry. The theme time and time again went back to how the specialty food movement is really just getting reborn and how important it is to have knowledgeable consumers behind all the companies there that night. Personally Steve McCarthy from Clear Creek Distillery in the Spirits category left me with the most memorable message; which was companies like Counter Culture and all the winners of the good food awards need to stop worrying about branding so much. More importantly our companies need to stay focused on always creating great products and let them speak for themselves. Essentially saying the brand will happen if your products are always great. It is a simple message but one as person with quality in my job title I took to heart.

After all the awards, the best part of the evening was next. Tasting all the winner's products. Somewhere between Smuttynose's Robust Porter, cups of Watedera Sidama Ethiopia from Noble coffee Company, Death's Door Distillery's White Whiskey, I had the best cheese I believe I have ever had: Hoja Santa Goat Cheese from Mozzarella Company. (It is a creamy soft goat cheese wrapped in a Hoja Santa leaf that mellows the flavor … my mouth is watering, again.) I could seriously go on and on talking about Red raspberry preserves and Madagascar chocolate, but I will spare the pain of most of you not being there, and just end with it was all really delicious, and everything I ate or drink I thought 100% deserved the acclaim.

So with a quick wrap up; the event was great, San Francisco is beautiful, and here is to this coming year – where we will work as hard as possible to put out nothing but great products. And hopefully pull a hat trick in 2013 at the Good Food Awards
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