Culinary experts across the country have waited anxiously for the final decision. Now, after an extensive national search and meticulous judging process to unearth the country's top artisanal food producers, Gallo Family Vineyards announced the winners of the 2007 Gallo Family Vineyards Gold Medal Awards program.
From the savory to the sweet, nearly 200 foods spanning the entire food spectrum were carefully sampled by a prestigious group of culinary experts. Among them were products as divine as they were diverse, including spicy asparagus, purple basil jelly, artisanal duck and goat cheese truffles. In the end, six winners were declared based on taste, quality and their dedicated commitment to traditional artisanal methods of food producing. The following food producers emerged as the winners:
-- Outstanding Bread/Baked Good: Anna Lynn Skamangas (The Baklava Goddess
Inc.) for Traditional Baklava, Schaefferstown, PA
-- Outstanding Condiment/Oil Vinegar: Alisa Barry (Bella Cucina Artful
Food) for Artichoke Lemon Pesto Dip, Atlanta, GA
-- Outstanding Confectionery Good: Richard A. Shaeffer & Brian T.
McElrath (B.T. McElrath Chocolatier) for Passion Fruit Truffle,
-- Outstanding Dairy: Michael and Carol Gingrich, Daniel and Jeanne
Patenaude (Uplands Cheese Company) for Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese,
-- Outstanding Fruit or Vegetable: Kathie Rosenschein (Kathie's Kitchen)
for "Superseedz" (sea salt-flavored pumpkin seeds), Newtown, CT
-- Outstanding Meat and Charcuterie: Hugh Fitzsimons (Thunder Heart
Bison) for Thunder Heart Bison, San Antonio, TX
"This year's judging was a delight of gastronomical proportions, and each of our winners was truly exceptional in their respective categories," said Stephanie Gallo, third generation director of marketing for Gallo Family Vineyards. "We were immediately impressed by the outstanding quality of their foods, but even more so by the commitment to their craft and their dedication to using only the finest ingredients. My family welcomes these six highly accomplished producers into our extended family."
The most prestigious prize, the signature "All Artisanal Award," was also presented today to a family-owned business that best exemplifies exceptional artisanal food production and stands as an inspiration to other food industry professionals. After carefully reviewing each winner's background, cousins Stephanie and Matt Gallo selected Thunder Heart Bison, whose inspirational story most resembled the family values and history of the Gallo family itself.
"Each producer has a great family story to share, but Hugh Fitzsimons from Thunder Heart Bison stood out as the most inspirational and impressive," said Matt Gallo, third generation winegrower, Gallo Family Vineyards. "It's clear how important family is to the daily operation of his business, with each member playing a vital role. As someone who spends most of his time on the land, I felt an immediate connection to Thunder Heart's passionate commitment
to the agriculture and the animals they raise. We're thrilled to bestow them with this much-deserved honor."
Each winner received a $5,000 business development grant to help nurture their commitment to artisanal production, an annual membership to the Chefs Collaborative (a not-for-profit organization fostering sustainable agriculture), and the Gallo Family Vineyards Gold Medal Awards "seal of excellence" for use throughout advertising, promotional materials and display on their products as a symbol of quality. In addition, each winner received a trip to New York City where Matt and Stephanie Gallo honored them during a celebratory luncheon at one of New York's top restaurants, Eleven Madison Park. James Beard award nominee Chef Daniel Humm expertly prepared a four- course meal featuring the winning products.
The esteemed judging panel behind this year's winners include: Ed Doyle, President, RealFood Consulting, Chefs Collaborative Executive Board Member; Malachy Duffy, Wine and Food Writer; Max McCalman, Maitre Fromager Artisanal and Picholine, and Dean of Curriculum for artisanalcheese.com; Ferdinand Metz, President Emeritus, Culinary Institute of America and President of the World Association of Chefs; Sara Moulton, Food Editor, Good Morning America, and Clark Wolf, Food and Restaurant Consultant.
For more detailed information on this year's winners, judges and the annual program, please visit http://www.gallofamily.com/.
About Gallo Family Vineyards:
Gallo Family Vineyards Sonoma has ranked among the world's most award- winning wineries since its first wines were released in 1993. Under the leadership of third-generation family members, Gina and Matt Gallo, the sister and brother team of winemaker and winegrower, along with cousin Stephanie Gallo heading up the brand's global marketing, the Gallo Family Vineyards line of wines has become the winery's most recognizable flagship brand.