New York has had two years off from hosting the Summer Fancy Food Show; this year the show took place in Washington D.C. from June 17-19. Next June it is back in NYC where most people believe it belongs!
De-mystifying the Fancy Food Show is not easy; it is from a spectator’s point of view an ultimate tasting extravaganza but making sense of it and understanding how it works is another thing. As the owner of Chelsea Market Baskets, I decided this year we would exhibit in a booth, showing our wares which include European “inspired specialty foods” and packaging or baskets mainly from China, that we wholesale. We also shop the show for new lines or new items for our store and gift assortment which sometimes involve figuring out the distribution channels of the food business.
We sell direct to premium stores around the country our unique wholesale offering. We bring in regular shipments that are often consolidated in Manchester, England, including some products from France. Consolidating does provide economies to what we sell by minimizing our freight and hopefully shipping in full container loads, 20 or 40 feet long, and minimizing customs clearance charges. Aside from a smaller importers like ourselves, the show includes booths that involve small, “home-made and home grown” business that might do a few hundred thousand dollars and spend a minimum of about $5,000 to exhibit and ship directly to stores and a mega distributor that might do a few billion dollars of business or more and incorporate thousands of products. Also included are “country pavilions” which may be generously state financed and are looking for a smaller or a larger importer to bring their product to the United States, sometimes they do not know what they are looking for and get excited when any interest is shown but have the challenge of getting their products here.
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Yet another Fancy Food Show has come to an end, and they do go by quickly! Our three days in Washington DC were filled with catching up with old friends, meeting new vendors and finding new products for the store and mailorder (more on this later), but mostly getting back into the wholesale business showing fantastic foods and baskets that are the core of Chelsea Market Baskets and introducing brand new products that we think are just the greatest! Some of the highlights from our booth (#5532 began to feel like home!) at the Summer Fancy Food Show 2012 include:
The ever popular Prestat Chocolates brand was well represented with the Diamond Jubilee Truffle Box recently featured in the New York Times and their delicious line of chocolate bars. Prestat owner Nick Crean joined us at the show to introduce their new Bear Box (with enormous eyes) and fun holiday- and birthday-friendly “Baubles” which are filled with Truffles. Both of these items will be available in late September. One note about the Baubles: these are so new that they are still just prototypes, so when they are produced, the coating will be bright and shiny like the rest of the Prestat line!
After a trip to France earlier this year, we’ve been growing our relationship with Traou Mad de Pont-Aven, and were beyond excited to unveil the updated packaging and new flavors (like Bacon or Goat Cheese and Herbes de Provence) that have made the crispy Crêperolles Mill Crepes cheese aperitif snacks even better! You know that they will be featured in several of our gift baskets this fall and holiday season, and will be available for wholesale or in-store purchase in early July. [click to continue…]
June has arrived, and since I live far from home, I try to start thinking about potential Father’s Day gifts early, but it almost inevitably happens that I send something the week of. With a few days left, I can easily pick something out and send it to arrive before the 17th. It isn’t a traditional holiday for a gift basket, but after working at Chelsea Market Baskets for just over a year, I have come to rely on being able to pack a great custom gift in the store with all the different products that I’ve hand-selected, and having the option to ship it from the store is incredibly convenient.
I have never gotten better reviews then when I send a basket brimming with goodies, so I wanted to share my picks for my Dad’s basket this year with you, and encourage you to come on in to Chelsea Market Baskets to pick-out something wonderful for your dad! Also, I want to add a disclaimer to this basket: when our new gift developers are creating a basket for our website, it generally has a theme or flavor profile to unite the different products inside: since this basket is for my dad, I’m sending things that I think he’ll love for lots of different reasons, and I’m calling it the “Mo Hotta, Mo Betta” basket because most of the items are heat-related!
Melinda’s XXXtra Hot Sauce ($2.95): I am my father’s child in that I can never have enough peppery heat in a dish. I love Melinda’s because it isn’t over-vinegary the way Tabasco can be, and it is made with red Habanero chiles, fresh carrots, onions, garlic, and lime juice, so it adds flavor as well as fire! I would be remiss to not include Melinda’s in this gift- I sent home a whole case at the holidays (that’s 12 bottles) and it’s over half-way finished!
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Today’s blog post is a special entry written by guest blogger, and Chelsea Market Baskets Store Manager, Angelo. He recounts a recent visit to a New York City school to speak with the students about fair trade- and was pleasantly surprised by the sophisticated thinking and questions about fair trade and sustainability happening in the third grade classroom. Chelsea Market Baskets supports many vendors with Fair Trade certification, and we are thrilled to have our team members continue the conversation outside of our four walls.
Imagine an eight-year-old giving you a rundown of fair trade practices and sustainable agriculture in third world countries. Can’t picture it? Head over to New York City’s Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, ask Ian, Cameron, or Arya from Ms. Avena’s third grade class for a lesson on biodiversities in farming in tropical climates, and see for yourself. I sure did.
This week I had the wonderful opportunity to stop by CGPS to speak to three third grade classes about the importance of fair trading practices of Chelsea Market Baskets’s favorite indulgence: chocolate. You know that here at CMB a product must have our stamp of approval before it hits our shelves. We believe in the value of fair trade to ensure not only ethical labor practices, but also a good product that’s been well crafted and tastes great because of it.
CGPS third graders were learning all about the significance of sustainable farming and the magnitude of deforestation, and were wondering what they can do to help add their little grain of sand. I spoke to them about how some companies, like Francois Pralus Chocolatier,
are certified fair trade chocolate makers that are voluntarily assessed and reviewed to make sure of two things: that the farms from which they are sourcing their cocoa beans are following fair labor practice, and that the farmers are being paid fairly for their products. The kids learned that while fair trade may not necessarily secure cash for farmers, premium sums of sale profits go to building new schools, hospitals, and roads for farms in needy countries. [click to continue…]