The National Fancy Food Show * is taking place in Washington D.C. later this month (June 17-19) and it has some amazing vendors this year. In particular, I want to highlight one product vendor that caught my eye: HerbNZest.
* While the show is for those in the food trade, you can buy the products at various retailers around the country.
HerbNZest sent me a few products to sample and I have to say that I am so very impressed. Their Saffron Fennel Pumpkin butter with it’s soft texture and lively flavor has found a permanent home in my fridge. And my kiddos are fans of their Basil Peach Raisin Chutney with it’s glorious sweet and fruity flavors.
I had a chance to catch up with the owner and creator of the products for a quick Q&A:
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I an avid foodie and traveler and am passionate about green ventures. I have 10 years of experience in corporate America spanning investment banking, venture capital, and grassroots microfinance. I received an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania where my focus was Entrepreneurship and Finance and where I was a Public Interest Fellow.
I have a personal passion for food, inculcated as a child in India and strengthened through my travels and experimentation in my kitchen. I love the discovery behind food. I usually work backwards from ingredients, picking seasonal produce at markets and then deciding what to make with them. With my work schedule, it was tough to make time for elaborate cooking and in any case I have always been the under 30-minute meal person. I like sautés, soups, salads, lentils, curry, anything that has interesting flavor and texture. I especially love spices and herbs because of their of flavor and their antioxidant properties. I care for health but I am not regimental about it: I believe in trying everything in moderation. What I do now, as a food entrepreneur and founder of HerbNZest truly brings together all the elements of my experience: my love of food, my experiences as a busy professional and mom, and my past experience as a business-woman.
Tell us a little about your products and what inspired you to create them
My products are a line of artisanal fruit relishes, chutneys, and sauces that transform ordinary meals to a gourmet experience. As a busy corporate mom who loves to eat and entertain, I could not find healthy and flavorful meal options with quick and easy recipes in gourmet isles. This experience prompted me to quit my corporate career and launch HerbNZest (double-meaning: Urban-Zest). HerbNZest is created for the urban and sub-urban consumer that is looking for quick and easy meal and entertainment ideas to suit their busy lifestyle. HerbNZest offers a new twist on gourmet food with condiments that are healthy, interesting, and easy enough to build everyday meals around or showcase on special occasions.
My travels to over 20 countries have revolved around understanding culture through food. Hence, HerbNZest has a multi-cultural influence (but with a twist!) reflected in flavors such as Fennel Saffron Pumpkin Butter and Basil Peach Chutney. My philosophy is to inspire people to be creative and have fun with food: I provide the tools and the suggestions and they create the gourmet meals and appetizers with little effort and time. At the end, the fun is about savoring the food with family and friends by having conversations around good food.
When I tell people that I created a Peach Iced Tea using HerbNZest Basil Peach Chutney, I love their reaction, “Really, no kidding!” Then they taste the tea and want to replicate it for their summer BBQ. That is success in my mind because I just gave the hosts an idea that took them 5 minutes to execute, started a fun conversation at their party and allowed them to be the creative star! Suggested uses for each product are available right on the jar and recipes available on a searchable “Zesty Recipes.”
What was the process like – going from product concept to execution?
For me it was very important to have fun with the process myself: it was a blast creating the flavor profiles such as Fennel Saffron Pumpkin Butter and Basil Peach Chutney. For many condiments on shelves, the first thing that you taste is sugar. I wanted to highlight the fruit and the spices and herbs instead. I chose many premium ingredients for their health and taste factors: such as olive oil over canola, or brown sugar over cane sugar or kosher salt over regular salt, brown raisins (no sulphites) over yellow raisins.
The challenge is to incorporate the flavors with less sugar, salt and little or no oil. I also try to highlight certain flavors and textures to create a sensory experience: for instance the Chive Tomato starts off as sweet, then sweet and savory, then some heat in the back end. And that is done through execution, the process that we use to actually make each flavor. Everything from choice of ingredients, to source of ingredients to final process plays an important role in the taste and nutrition of the product.
Our products are made in multiple small batches. The technique for execution was important for me, so I chose my co-packer carefully and oversee every production run personally to ensure quality control.
Where can my readers buy your products?
My products are currently sold in specialty and natural food stores listed on our website and soon to be in Fresh Markets in NY, PA, and NJ. Customers from other states can order online: we ship ground within the continental USA. The products are available in 2 sizes: 4.6 oz for gifting and 7.6 oz for family, with a suggested a retail price of $5 for 4.6oz and $7.50 for 7.6oz.
HerbNZest will be exhibiting in Aisle 100, New Brands Pavilion at the Summer Fancy Food Show in DC, June 17-19, 2012. CEO and Founder, Deboleena Dutta will be available to answer questions about the company and products. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up appointments.
Follow HerbNZest to receive promotions and updates about the company:
Pinterest: Deboleena Dutta
Some highlights of the National Fancy Food Show include:
- 180,000 specialty foods and beverages
- 2,400 exhibitors from 80 countries and regions
- State Pavilions, including Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York and Virginia
- sofi™ Awards ceremony hosted by José Andrés, the noted chef and culinary innovator
- All-day seminar on how to break into the specialty food business
- A Visual Feast, a new exhibit tracing 60 years of specialty food
- Guided Tastings: Korean Cuisine; Best of DC Farmers Markets; Salt and Pepper; Butter
- Major food donation to the Capital Area Food Bank at end of show