Recap: Real Food Innovator Awards Gala

The inaugural Real Food Innovator Awards was held on March 13th with a sold out gala at the historic Whittemore House to honor individuals being recognized for their leadership and contribution to increasing the production and consumption of healthful and sustainable food. The celebration included a cocktail reception followed by a dinner prepared by Chef Sam Talbot, “Top Chef” ‘Fan favorite’ and author of “The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries”.

It was a packed house with over 200 people attending the reception and dinner. As expected, the party was full of high quality food and drink, and all the sponsor vendors were fabulous.

Barboursville Vineyard had a setup at the event, providing tastings for those interested. Owned by an Italian family, Barboursville has produced very successful wines over the last few years. Their most popular wine, the Octagon, has won numerous awards. If you haven’t already been, Barboursville is also an ideal day trip or weekend getaway from DC, and is located in the beautiful Piedmont region of Central Virginia, just outside Charlottesville.

Founding Farmers was there making 2 different cocktails. The “Farm Daisy”, which will be featured on their soon to be released spring menu, is a combination of gin, lemon, lemongrass and chartreuse and features their (also) soon to be released “Founding Farmers gin”. If you like herbaceous drinks, this is the one for you. Their other cocktail, “Tiki Bubbles”, made with cava, Rhum Clement, tiki bitters and lime zest was equally delicious, light and refreshing.

Jrink Juicery – Jrink produces healthy cold pressed fresh juices, based out of Union Kitchen, DC’s local food incubator. They were providing samples of 3 different juices, and I tried the green juice with kale, pear, cucumber, romaine and lemon.  While do I enjoy green juices, this was definitely one of the best I have tried and I will be exploring their convenient delivery option soon. Jrink has a great team behind them that believes in providing the best product possible to the community. Look out for their Dupont store opening this summer.

Treeline cheese, a line of vegan cheeses, had put out their French style soft cheese along with gluten free crackers. The cashew based nut cheese was tangy, creamy and spreadable. In fact, it reminded me of sour cream, and I thought it would make for a fabulous dip. Even just by itself, it would be great to serve as a vegan option with crackers and vegetables. Locally, these cheeses are available at Mom’s Organic Market stores.

The team behind the Real Food Scanner app, that tells you if your food is “real”, was present demonstrating how the app works. It’s pretty simple – you scan the label, and you are presented with a Green/Yellow/Red rating for the product. The best part – it also highlights the ingredients in the product that contribute toward that rating and what problems they cause. The app is available for iPhone now, and they are working to increase the product database and include GMO products as well.

As attendees moved between different rooms in the elegant house, appetizers were being passed around. A good mix of options, my favorite was the vegan “Italian sausage and sundried tomato” quiche!

All in all, a great start to the evening, and a great mission, with proceeds from the event benefiting the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) and the James Beard Foundation.

Aparna is a food & beverage contributor at Borderstan, Dining In DC, and a “spotter” for Spotted By Locals. 

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