By Janet Newcomb
The 41st Winter Fancy Food Show, produced by the Specialty Food Association for food and wine purveyors and wholesalers, took place in San Francisco on January 17-19 at the Moscone Center showcasing 1,400 exhibitors representing the latest in specialty foods and beverages from across the U.S. and 35 countries.
In addition to promoting hundreds of specialty foods, the SFA honors the past and inspires the future through its annual Hall of Fame and Leadership Awards Ceremony, and this month Palm Desert resident Geno Biggi, founder and owner of Beaverton Foods and a fourth generation manufacturer of gourmet condiments, received this exceptional honor.
The Biggi food business goes back to the 1920s when Geno’s mother Rose, an Italian immigrant, started a horseradish business out of the basement of her Beaverton, Oregon, farmhouse. Starting as his mother’s helper, over the years Geno managed to invent the first shelf-stable horseradish, the first wet Chinese Mustard, and the first Honey Mustard in the world. He eventually took over his mother’s horseradish business and expanded its distribution to all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries. Today, the product line includes mustards, horseradish, wasabi, dressings, marinades, BBQ sauce, salsa, and other sauces, and the company has products in ninety-eight percent of American grocery stores with 150 condiment flavors, and employees 80 people. His son Domonic and nephew Jeffrey Biggi now handle most of the day to day operations while Geno enjoys playing golf with his wife Lindi near their Palm Desert home.
Beaverton Foods’ office walls are covered with awards from tasting competitions, and last year the team added four more from the world-wide Mustard Competition in Middleton, Wisconsin, including two gold medals for its Beaver Chinese Mustard and its Inglehoffer Extra Hot Sriracha Mustard. In addition to being inducted to the Hall of Fame, Geno and his sons also brought home a silver medal for their Inglehoffer Hot Horseradish Mustard and a bronze for their Beaver Cranberry Mustard. Congratulations Geno! What a wonderful way to start the new year.