Our Fancy Foods, OurselvesThree days at the world's greatest assemblage of exotic, expensive, absurd, and occasionally delicious snacks
July 13, 2016
I go to congratulate Bradley Bennett of Pacific Pickle Works for winning Sofi gold with his pickled "Brussizzle Sprouts" in this year’s appetizer division, beating out Mama Lil’s Hungarian Goathorn Peppers.
Bennett tells me he got his start in 2011, after twenty years in the software industry, when he decided to devote himself to "west-coast pickles." The Brussizzle Sprouts, he says, like all Pacific products, was named via crowdsourcing on their Facebook page. "It’s a fun play on words, it has some pop-culture references to it." I try to get him to say "Snoop Dogg," which he refuses to do. "There’s a particular person out there," he says. "Rap culture has a person who emphasizes certain… izzles."
Bennett’s neighbor in the California regional section is — surprise, surprise — another ex-techie. Arawak Farms founder Lloyd J. Vassell has been selling pepper sauces and spicy fruit spreads based on indigenous West Indian recipes since he quit his corporate branding job at Sun Microsystems. His newest product is his grandmother’s jerk pepper sauce; Vassell says he’s the only one who got the recipe, because he always loved it the most. So she wrote it down for you? "No!" He laughs. "She gave me a jar. I had to take it to my food scientist and she figured it out. Grandma never wrote down anything." The sauce is incredible: It has a clean, translucent heat that doesn’t hide any of the allspice. I walk halfway across the hall before coming back for another paper-spoonful.
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