Front row at the Sofi Awards – Specialty Food’s version of the Oscars

A holding room, a red carpet procession with tv cameras and flashes firing, a large raucous crowd cheering and a 14 foot gold statue on a huge stage – this event is way more big time than we expected.

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SOFI – sofi stands for “specialty outstanding food innovation” and represents the best of the best. Winners are selected by a national panel of specialty food retailers, foodservice professionals and journalists. Feast! is being honored with an Outstanding Retailer award.

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Eric getting ready to exit the holding room and head down the Red Carpet –feelings of amazement, excitement and anxious anticipation. This is crazy! We are about to walk the Red Carpet to hundreds of screaming “fans”.

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Exciting! Clare, Neville and Oliver Turner from Virginia Chutney Company won a Gold Sofi for their Spicy Plum Chutney. In this picture, Clare is saying something brilliantly witty to star chef and host of the evening, Marcus Samuelsson.

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Thank you, Specialty Food Association, for this great honor.  There are so many people who put their heads and hearts and time into making Feast! an Outstanding Retailer, we’d like to recognize a few.

Firstly, thank you to all the family food producers – the grandmothers, grandfathers, moms and dads, sons and daughters, husbands and wives – who share their delicious food creations for us all to enjoy.  Telling your story and selling your real good foods is great for our business and our community. None of this would be possible without you.  Cheers to a bright future!

The idea for Feast! started with our parents – Maggi, Barney, Betty and Willis – who raised us to respect and love good food. At both of our homes growing up, family meal was a special time and planning for those meals- whether planting, weeding and harvesting from the garden or putting up for winter or helping to cook was what being “together” meant. Thank you Moms and Dads for your influence and support all these years.

Over the 11 year life of Feast! more than 130 staff have worked with us and many of them made a lasting impression at the store. Firstly, thank you to Suzannah Kerr McFerran who was our very first employee and whose instinct for interior design and skills at organization added so much to the “look” of the place, down to the color of the walls.  Thank you to Cate McConnell who created the “gift BOX” and to Mari Ines Arroyo Woodsome whose belief in us added much to the “feel” of the shop.  Thank you Katie Montgomery, Alex Palermo Holt and Phoebe Schweizer West for being a stellar team whose personality, passion and artistic talent brought Feast so far.

Thank you Steve Madej for being the customer service master! Also for being a cheese and cured meat cutting machine.  Our customers will never forget you.

Thank you to our Cafe Chefs over the years – Gail, Angela, Lisa, Alex, Courtenay and Megan – you all added dishes to our lunch menu that have cult followings to this day.

Thank you to Cruz and Zuri whose versatility throughout the store and high quality production made our pimento cheese and olive oils famous.

Thank you, Dave Kostelnik, for taking a risk on a career change and joining our team.  Your interest and skills took you from the cheese counter to top management. Your sense of humor, heavy lifting and team building skills allowed us to grow. We miss you, man.

And high praise and thanks to our current Feast! team who come to work with new ideas and a positive attitude every day:

Cheese – Sara, Chris & Ryan

Floor – Terri, Kelsey G, Terra

Cafe – Megan, Rene, Irvin, Nancy, Hernan, Santina, Geraldina, Fiona

Produce, Gift boxes, Catering – Kelsey Vergin

Upstairs crew – Jenna, Betsy

But perhaps the most important thank you of all goes to our customers who keep us in business and growing. You come in again and again, you bring your friends,  you try new things, you share stories and tell us about new foods, you thank us for what we do.  It is your support that led us to this point of walking down the Red Carpet. Thank you!

And one more thank you.  This one from Kate to Eric (or as I call him, G.)

Thank you, G, for taking this journey with me. It has been an on your feet, fast paced, heavy lifting, learn as you go, a million things on the list adventure that I can’t imagine having taken without you. Congratulations, my love. We made an outstanding place together.

Fate brought us together to be partners on the same team, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for us.

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Eric, Kate and Sara (cheese manager) celebrating after the ceremony.

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