The gluten-free sesame, pink salt, lentil rice crisp bread of East Hampton Gourmet Food, at 66 Newtown Lane has won what the food world considers the equivalent of an Oscar.
The crisp bread was the winner of a 2014 Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation (SOFI) Award in the new product categorty at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City on June 30. The awards have been given to specialty foods and beverages since 1972.
East Hampton Gourmet Food's crisp bread ultimately outshone 449 products submitted to its category. The food show last month featured about 125 finalist food items selected from the 2,737 products submitted across 32 award categories ranging from hot beverages to innovation in packaging design and function to frozen savory foods. Finalists were selected by a panel of food experts, such as head buyers and C.E.O.s of companies like Whole Foods, Dean and DeLuca, and FreshDirect, said Kate Pratt, a partner with Michel Mazuret in East Hampton Gourmet Foods.
"They boiled it down to 11 finalists," Ms. Pratt said. "It was an interesting group of people because the products were so uniquely different from each other." The finalists in the new product category included grapefruit lilac blossom water from the Berkshires, Groix and Nature Lobster Oil from France, and COINGA, six-month raw-milk Mahon Cheese from Menorca, and the Tonewood Maple Cube. "They were really our big contender" Ms. Pratt said.
At the SOFI Awards ceremony, Ms. Pratt and Mr. Mazuret sat with the couple who developed the Maple Cube. They are in touch frequently and help each other find retailers, Ms.Pratt said.
The final vote was cast at the event and was conducted by 275 retail buyers and industry leaders. Ms. Pratt likens the voting process to that of the Academy Awards, as she was not even allowed to peek inside the voting room, which was "separate from the whole main concourse and was overseen by an accounting committee" to monitor the undertaking.
"It's just all a blur. My partner, Michel, ran onstage to get the award from the chef [Dominique Ansel]. I just stayed at the table in so much shock."
Earlier this year, she recalled, the pair drove into the city at the last minute to submit the crisp bread for competition. "We both had the flu, so I don't remember much of it", she said. Two weeks later, they were astonished to receive an email saying that it had been selected as a finalist for outstanding new product, which is the highest award category, Ms. Pratt said.
"It was an extraordinary experience. We're still pinching ourselves," Ms. Pratt said.
Their 18-year-old company operates a retail shop and a catering and wholesale business. It also makes a rosemary Parmesan and a chipotle cheddar crisp bread. The Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton is among its growing list of customers.