Six East Bay food companies win 2017 Good Food Awards

The Mr. Espresso family (from left to right) Laura Zambrano (Sister), Alex Zambrano (Laura’s husband), Marie-Francoise Di Ruocco (Mother), Carlo Di Ruocco (Father), Luigi, and John Di Ruocco (Brother). Mr. Espresso took home its first-ever Good Food Award this year. Photo: Nader Khouri

January 20 was more than just Inauguration Day. It was also the day of the seventh annual Good Food Awards, in which 193 artisanal food businesses took home honors for making some of the best charcuterie, jams, cheese and beer in the United States.

Twenty-three companies from the Bay Area took home awards that evening, including five from the East Bay.

For the fourth time, Berkeley’s Fra’ Mani took home an award, this year for its salame gentile, a traditional Italian salame from Parma. Berkeley’s Local Butcher Shop also took home another award, the shop’s second, for its pork liver mousse. Wooden Spoons, which was founded in Berkeley but now cooks out of Oakland’s Kitchener, took home its second Good Food Award for its salmon rillettes.

Oakland’s Mr. Espresso won its first Good Food Award for its Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Fair Trade/Organic coffee from the Worka Cooperative. It is a light-roasted coffee with notes of wild strawberry, blueberry and Meyer lemon. Richmond’s Far West Cider also took home its first award for its Orchard Blend #1. In addition, Far West was a finalist for two other ciders, Pink Cascade and San Joaquin Sparkler.


Caviar from Concord’s Tsar Nicoulai. Photo: Tsar Nicoulai/Facebook

And finally, from Concord, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar won an award in the new preserved fish category for its estate smoked sturgeon caviar. The 30-year-old company sustainably cultivates caviar from American white sturgeon.

Oakland’s Clove and Hoof butcher shop was also a finalist for its bologna, but it was not named a winner.

The Good Food Awards was founded in 2011 by Sarah Weiner with the goal of celebrating high-quality, sustainable food production in the U.S. According to the awards’ website:

“The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced. We grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients. We host an annual Awards Ceremony and Marketplace in San Francisco to honor the Good Food Award recipients who push their industries towards craftsmanship and sustainability while enhancing our agricultural landscape and building strong communities.”

This year, the awards encompassed 14 different categories: beer, cider, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, honey, pantry, pickles, preserves, preserved fish, spirits and oil. Hand-picked judges from various states and professions conduct a blind tasting of the submitted items, and are then scored based on flavor. The top products are then vetted for their environmental and social practices.


Up to the the top five products in each region (North, South, East, West, and Central) for each category are named finalists, and up to the top three win an award. In addition to a medal and recognition at the awards ceremony, winners also receive a special Good Food Awards seal to place on their winning products, national coverage through the Good Food Awards media network, and introductions to local and national buyers.

(Full disclosure: Nosh editor Kate Williams was a judge this year in the oils category.)