Good Food Awards

Good-Food-Awards-Winner-SealWHAT MAKES GOOD FOOD GOOD?

At the start of each new year since 2011, food producers all over the country have waited expectantly to learn how their entries have fared in the Good Food Awards. San Francisco–based Seedlings Projects says the awards “celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic, and responsibly produced.” The award festivities, held each year in early January at the San Francisco Ferry Building, are always a fun time for both entrants and eaters, as well as a time to heighten our awareness of the values attributed to “good food.”

One producer bringing home an award this year is Rich Matthews, whose Moonshadow Grove organic extra-virgin olive oils are perennial winners at the numerous competitions he enters each year. “We get confirmation on what we’re doing right and on where we can improve,” he says, illuminating how feedback from competitions is important to producers. But he adds that the Good Food Awards are different. “They look beyond the quality of your product to things like how you manage water and what kind of social impact you have in your community.”

The comprehensive values enumerated on the Good Food Awards website include “honoring people who make food that is delicious, respectful of the environment, and connected to communities and cultural traditions.” It’s easy to see how the following local award winners have met those criteria.

Monterey Bay–based Real Good Fish won their 2016 Good Food Award for their Smoked Carmel Canyon Black Cod. Also called sablefish or butterfish, black cod is a species that thrives in the Carmel Submarine Canyon offshore from Carmel, California. With double the omega-3 fatty acids of salmon, this fish is a healthful food, and also a California coast fish population that is extremely healthy. But perhaps as important is that the company places value on the livelihood of the local small-scale fishermen who harvest responsibly from this fishery.

Another local winner is Berkeley-based La Tourangelle. The hazelnuts from their champion Gourmande Roasted Hazelnut Oil come from a co-op in Oregon (where 99{94d79dd6af1e87a94e700e4c297236468333f22e27ed5757b44711974a9a4b91} of domestic hazelnuts are grown). Founder and CEO Matthieu Kohlmeyer brought his family’s business here from France in 2002 and set up his mill in Woodland, California. His first product was a roasted walnut oil made from local walnuts using 150-year-old traditional French milling methods. He and his staff now crush small batches of locally grown walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and almonds, and they have expanded into producing other high-quality, healthful oils, such as grapeseed, sesame seed, avocado, and coconut.

Berkeley couple Brian Johnson and Julie Gordon earned a Charcuterie Award for their pork rillettes. The duo launched Wooden Spoons in 2012 to make several types of rillettes, a dish similar to a pâté that’s prepared from meat marinated in seasonings, herbs, and spirits, then slowly simmered until tender. Johnson and Gordon hand-shred the pork, duck, or rabbit and seal it in jars with an added layer of duck fat for freshness. They also prepare salmon and vegetable variations, using locally sourced, pasture-raised meat and organic produce.

“The Wooden Spoons idea was cooked up at our kitchen table,” says Gordon, adding that no one locally was making rillettes with the kind of sustainably farmed meat they like to buy. The couple cooks at Kitchener Oakland and sells the rillettes on their website, through Good Eggs, and at pop-up events. Gordon says she and Johnson are thrilled and honored by the award. “The Good Food Awards embodies everything we believe about approaching food and its production in a mindful, responsible, delicious way.”

Spoiled Rotten Vinegar & Stuck-Up Jam

Blackstrap Vinegar, Fennel Kraut, Brandied Fig Jam. All locally made in Benicia, these unique pantry foods were created under the California Homemade Food Act, which was signed into law in 2013.

Cottage food business owner Graham Klee Wiles-Pearson won a Good Food Award for his Blackstrap Vinegar. Photo courtesy of Spoiled Rotten Vinegar

Cottage food business owner Graham Klee Wiles-Pearson
won a Good Food Award for his Blackstrap Vinegar.
Photo courtesy of Spoiled Rotten Vinegar

A certified Cottage Food Operator by way of this act, Graham Klee Wiles-Pearson is the chef and owner—along with his wife Cherie Wiles-Pearson—of Spoiled Rotten Vinegar & Stuck-Up Jam.

“We want to produce food that supports the health of people and planet,” says Klee. “I love working with living food—vinegar, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, kvass. I am driven by my desire to study and create food, and I enjoy sharing the results with others.”

Klee sources his produce from local organic farms and changes his recipes in concert with the produce available that season. In addition to jams and pickles, he makes several kinds of vinegar, including ginger serrano, apple, and maple. Most notably, his Blackstrap Vinegar (which takes eight months to a year to make plus aging) won a 2016 Good Food Award.

“I’m very excited and honored to be a Cottage Food Operator represented in the Good Food Awards,” says Klee. “It’s a thrill to represent this small niche of food creators.”
Klee’s products are currently available only through their online store, Potager Cottage (, but may soon be showing up at retail locations as word of the award spreads. For more information, visit

Katie Gatlin