OVIFT Suppliers Expo 2013

By Grace Yek, July 14, 2013

If you’ve been around the culinary scene, the term mise en place probably brings out the warm fuzzies in you. Putting in place, makes perfect sense as organization goes.

Every year, in the month of April, the Ohio Valley section of the Institute of Food Technologists (OVIFT), puts in place a meeting of people, products and minds, with one common denominator – food. On April 18 this year, the OVIFT Suppliers Expo in the Savannah Center in West Chester became the gathering place for suppliers of the food industry, clients, subject matter experts, students and the occasional curious onlooker. It was a fascinating and effective dance, as people naturally found their meeting points before moving on to the next partners.

Erin Sherman, Lou Ann Underwood and Dianne Kirk from Graffiti Foods in Columbus made the trip to look for new ingredients for the soups, sauces and side dishes they make for their clients. They wanted to shop for suppliers, learn how to optimize their ingredient usage and cut costs. They looked excited to be at the Expo.

Shari Plimpton, PhD, Industry Outreach Director for the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) in Toledo, was busy getting the word out about the services CIFT offers to assist budding businesses. “CIFT is one of the best kept secrets in the food industry,” said Plimpton. CIFT supports agribusiness and the food industry through services ranging from process development to equipment design, and ultimately develops businesses in the state of Ohio.” Plimpton went on to say “CIFT has been around for 15 years and works with over 500 companies in Ohio to develop their business.”

The Expo was an international meeting ground this year as well. Hirotaka Yamashita, General Manager of Marketing & Development at Kohjin Life Sciences in Tokyo, Japan, stopped by to visit with Mitsubishi, their distributor in the U.S.

If dark chocolate flavored black tea piques your interest, you would have found Kelly Ross’ booth a delight. He represents Virginia Dare Flavors and Extracts out of Brooklyn, New York. Ross observed that the traffic at the Expo was “pretty good,” and added, “Usually if you can contact one or two potential customers, it’s worth the effort of setting up. And I’ve met a couple of people. ”

Greg J. Grisanti, Director of R&D at Frisch’s Big Boy in Cincinnati was on the hunt for new and unique ingredients which meet the challenges they encounter as they manufacture the food – soups, sauces, dressings, baked goods – for their restaurants. When asked what he thought the benefit was in attending the Expo, Grisanti summed it up, “Everything is all in one place.”

There was a steady stream of handshakes, exchange of business cards, conversations and even hugs as people met, reconnected, discussed, learned and networked. The long recognized perk of attending an Expo held true as many attendees sampled their way around the Expo and gladly picked up a few pens and bags.

A long time IFT supporter, Vincent Pasquale, the local sales representative for Accurate Ingredients, comes every year. Vince firmly believes it’s a good way to interact with customers and show new ingredients and technologies. Lisa Sanders, Culinary Technology Manager at Frutarom in Cincinnati, is another Expo veteran. “I’ve done the show for over ten years. It’s a great benefit to see the suppliers, look for new materials and for clients to come visit,” said Sanders.

Still others, like Kevin Stevens, Director of Quality Assurance at Klosterman Baking Company, came to the Expo because he got word about the Expo indirectly from his buyers. He said he’s not an OVIFT member but wanted to come to shop for potential suppliers. Amy Ott, Director of Marketing, looked forward to interacting with the suppliers and learning about new technologies that might help better market her company’s products.

Yuka Okumura, the Assistant Manager of Sales and Development of Seasonings at Takare Sake USA located in Berkeley, California, presented her company’s products with the hope and anticipation of, in her words, “getting new accounts and expanding the business.”

Amanda Warnock and Rachel Liggett from Givaudan Flavors were interested in the consumers’ perspective on health and wellness, along with sweetness and sodium reduction. They also just wanted to see what’s new with the suppliers.

When like-minded people come together in one place, the energy is off the charts. What more passionate calling than the business of food. There were 89 vendors and about 150 attendees at the OVIFT Suppliers Expo this year. Mark your calendars – next year’s Expo is set for April 17, 2014.

Grace Yek is an Assistant Professor in Culinary Arts and Science at the University of Cincinnati. She enjoys writing about the food industry in her free time.

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NANOBREWERIES – The Golden Age of Beer

By Grace Yek, February 28, 2013

Zy·mur·gy. If you think it is yet another grim economic forecast, don’t worry. It is ironically the impetus that is bringing on a new growth spurt of entrepreneurs. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines zymurgy as “a branch of applied chemistry that deals with fermentation processes (as in wine making or brewing).” For all the beer lovers out there, what a divine branch of applied chemistry it is.

So what is beer exactly? The connoisseur can sniff beer out from a mile away and carry on a 10-minute monologue about the intricacies of flavor and beer-making. The state of Ohio poetically tags beer as “all beverages brewed or fermented wholly or in part from malt products and containing one-half of one per cent or more, but not more than twelve per cent, of alcohol by volume.” Beer is fundamentally the fermented product of barley, water, hops and yeast. But it’s not a simple matter of adding the right amount of each ingredient – it is a complex series of biochemical reactions with each ingredient having its own complexity. Barley is first malted, a process that involves the germination and drying of the grain. Yeast can be top-fermenting (ale) or bottom-fermenting (lager). There are many varieties of hops (the flower of the hop vine) – which is incidentally related to the hemp family of which marijuana is a member– each with its own personality of bitterness, aroma and flavor. And then there is the fermentation time and temperature.

It is exactly this complexity in the making of beer that leaves room for creativity – an open invitation to culinary and entrepreneurial daredevils. How does jalapeno beer sound? That’s Dogfish Head Company’s El Diablo Verde craft beer, one of its popular sellers. How about throwing in unconventional ingredients like rhubarb, saffron, orange blossoms, seaweed, chocolate and coffee? Beer-brewing is rapidly becoming a mainstream hobby, thanks to the rising culinary curiosity and romance of small-batch artisanal products. Home garages and basements have become the latest laboratories for the budding brew master.

What if your adoring dinner guests and friends started paying for your one-of-a-kind beer? Maybe you could amass other paying customers if they could only try your beer. Enter the nanobrewery. The garage brewery story is often the starting point of nanobreweries, the hobbyist’s entry point into the commercial market. And yes, most of them keep their day jobs, at least in the beginning. This was how Hess Brewery, Trillium Brewery and Dogfish Head Company got their start.

But what is a nanobrewery? Think microbrewery but smaller. The equipment can be anywhere from a 0.5 barrel to 5 barrel brewing system (1 beer barrel = 31 gallons) and should fit in a small space, like the garage. The truth be told, there is no legal or strict definition of a nanobrewery. It is more of a cultural state of mind, with the general expectation that a nanobrewery makes exotic, high quality small batches of beer – “mom and pop” style. Not unlike microbreweries, nanobreweries market themselves through personal storytelling, blogging and participating in beer fests.

As far as the government is concerned, there is no distinction between nanobreweries (such as 508 Gastrobrewery and Bierkraft), microbreweries (such as MadTree, Christian Moerlein and Fifty West) and macrobreweries (the “big boys” such as Anheuser-Busch). In order to be in business, each has to obtain a permit to manufacture ale – in Ohio, that’s a $3960 permit from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. Whenever beer is produced for sale, whether from the manufacturing plant floor or from your home, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) insists that you pay Federal excise tax. Other requirements include bond coverage, proper product labeling including government warning labels about alcohol. You will also need to get the approval of the Health Department since your garage is now a food processing facility. And then some.

Nanobreweries that gain commercial success face the inevitable challenge of staying small. Demand for their beer often pushes these nanobreweries to expand, and take the plunge from a five-figure to six-figure investment. This is the point where many entrepreneurs quit their day jobs and get serious about raising money. Paul Dlugokencky of Blind Bat Brewery, a Delaware-based brewery, started producing 1/3 barrel (10 gallon) batches in 2008 and has incrementally expanded over the years to meet demand. The brewery has stated that it will leave its nanobrewery status to join the league of larger brewers within a year.

Nanobrewers are not only getting the attention of the fans but also of the lawmakers. Lawmakers understand the potential economic impact of these operations –from creating jobs to supporting the local economy. Local brewers tend to buy from local farmers, thus supporting local agriculture.

Josh Treadway, the General Manager at the Senate Restaurant, observes that the current demand for locally crafted beer is “hot.” There is a collective awareness to buy local, and restaurants are doing their part to support the smaller local breweries by having a “rotating tap.” The rotating tap features various local beer, and at the Senate Restaurant, it has included products from MadTree Brewing and Blank Slate.

Small-batch craft beer has generated such a buzz that bigger brewery conglomerates are taking notice. Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione cautions consumers about bigger producers turning out faux craft beer like Shocktop, Blue Moon or Goose Island to mimic genuine craft beer from independent breweries.

The rapid emergence of nanobreweries has redefined the standards of craft beer. Good just doesn’t cut it anymore. It has to be bold, smoky, spicy, “hoppy,” citrusy, sour, fruity, one-of-a kind and more. If you just want to drink good beer, you are in for a treat. Are these many breweries sustainable in the long run? We may witness zymurgical Darwinism play out but the verdict is still out there.

Grace Yek is an Assistant Professor in Culinary Arts and Science at the University of Cincinnati. She is active in the OVIFT and enjoys writing in her free time.

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