Exhibitor Stories: Five Award-Winning Tastes – #VFX2019

See these innovative companies at the Vegas Food Expo, March 30-31, 2017 at the Gold Coast Resort and Casino:

Melissa’s Produce – Booth #105
Los Angeles, California

Delivering The Global Market

Think tasty, creamy, tangy, aromatic, tart, sweet, crunchy and delectable. Within the 280,000 square feet of the Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc. warehouse in Los Angeles, California, one is sure to find the freshest fruits and vegetables – quality products with exceptional value and first-class service. Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc. is currently the largest distributor of specialty produce in the United States. Over the years, the company’s Food Service Division has become a full-service operation that supplies culinary professionals with staples, exotics, and Melissa’s full line of organic produce.


Joe and Sharon Hernandez founded the business with a decade of produce industry experience in a small, rented produce warehouse lunchroom. The original office had three telephones and four chairs – no one could have guessed that, within a few short years, the company would grow to occupy a newly-renovated and expanded 280,000 square foot office, warehouse complex, and state-of-the-art CCOF/QAI Certified Organic Packing Facility.

Family is a big part of World Variety’s success. The Melissa’s brand is named after Joe and Sharon’s daughter, who takes an active role in the company. Through the years, the company has found stable growth thanks to the support of very loyal customers and a close-knit family of employees dedicated to customer service. After all, Joe Hernandez has made the company philosophy straightforward: “Give the customers what they want and keep them happy!” World Variety is committed to industry and consumer education about specialty produce. Product headers include recipes, serving suggestions, and nutritional information.

Melissa’s easy-to-navigate website is updated monthly with features that are easy and convenient to read. But more important than these educational trademarks, a Melissa’s/World Variety Produce employee is always ready to track down those hard-to-find items and answer any questions about their specialty produce items. They can be reached toll-free at (800) 588-0151, or via email: hotline@melissas.com.

Customers can hear more about Melissa’s by visiting their booth at the Vegas Food Expo.


Bourbon Barrel Foods – Booth #802
Louisville, Kentucky

“Eat Your Bourbon”

Established in 2006 as the U.S.’s only soy sauce microbrewery, Bourbon Barrel Foods has become a cornerstone in both the bourbon and gourmet foods industries. All of Bourbon Barrel Foods’ products incorporate innovative uses of bourbon barrels and are crafted with care in small batches. Bourbon Barrel Foods produces a collection of all-natural, award winning gourmet foods that embrace the history and mystique of Kentucky’s Bourbon Country.


Matt Jamie, founder and owner, taught himself the art of soy sauce brewing by researching online, followed by many hours of trial and error. The final result is the company’s classic Bluegrass Soy Sauce, inspired by Kentucky’s nickname “The Bluegrass State.”

Bluegrass Soy Sauce is the only microbrewed soy sauce made in the United States and the only soy sauce in the world fermented and aged in bourbon barrels. The process imparts an added dimension of flavor that cannot be replicated using any other method. By law, bourbon barrels can only be used once to age bourbon; they are then sold for a variety of uses. By using the barrels as an aging vessel, the soy sauce becomes infused with essence of Kentucky’s finest bourbon and the rich, oaky flavors from the charred barrels.

Non-GMO soybeans, soft red winter wheat, and limestone-filtered water are combined with solar-evaporated sea salt to create the soy mash. Each barrel of Bluegrass Soy Sauce ages for a year inside the barrels until it is pressed and the final product is bottled. Once bottled, each label is hand-numbered by batch and bottle—our nod to the small batch bourbon makers. Bluegrass Soy Sauce has received recognition and acclaim from chefs, industry experts and gourmet enthusiasts around the globe. It has been featured on Bizarre Foods America, The Science Channel: How it’s Made as well as in Southern Living, Esquire, Garden and Gun and Food & Wine.

With the popularity of bourbon continuing to increase, Bourbon Barrel Foods has championed the idea of combining the Kentucky Bourbon Industry with the local food movement. Their ever-growing product list includes Bourbon Barrel Aged sauces, vanilla extract and sorghum, plus bourbon smoked spices, sugar and other Kentucky-Bourbon inspired items. In 2012, Bourbon Barrel Foods partnered with Woodford Reserve® to create a cocktail and culinary line. With the addition of the Bourbon Barrel Aged Cocktail Bitters, Bourbon Cherries and Bourbon Smoked Spice Blends, the Woodford Reserve® items expanded our reach to enthusiasts of this iconic brand.

The company can be reached at (502) 333-6103 and is exhibiting at the Vegas Food Expo.


Choffy – Booth #502
Henderson, Nevada

Dedicated to Championing Whole-Body Wellness

Choffy is brewed chocolate. It’s made from 100% premium cocoa beans and ground to create a rich drnk that provides long-lasting energy and whole body wellness. Richer and more robust than hot chocolate, it brews just like coffee. But unlike coffee, it supplies you with long-lasting energy without the crash or other negative effects of caffeine. In fact, the only thing that’s addictive about it is the taste!


In 2006, Jason Vanderhoven had a dream to help others around the world to live a better, healthier life from the cacao (cocoa) bean. He thought he could create a brewed drink that would taste great, but retain all of the great health benefits naturally found in cacao.

His early attempts resulted in something his father-in-law would say resembled “really bad coffee.” While not exactly the response he was hoping for, Jason knew he was on to something. After three years of researching, testing, and input from family and friends, Choffy was finally born. Jason knew he had a winning product, and he began the process of bringing in other people to help him launch his dream of sharing Choffy with the world.

As the visionary and inventor of Choffy the product, Jason Vanderhoven is the company’s soul and guiding force. He has always envisioned Choffy as a tool for doing good in the world. That philosophy is at the core of who we are and how we do business. His product passion and expertise helps ensure that Choffy’s products are of the highest quality and support our founding mission. Today, Choffy is the fast growing originator of 100% brewed chocolate that has everybody talking, and has been featured in many magazines including, Prevention, Oprah Magazine, Natural Health, the Food Network Magazine, and Marie Claire.

Choffy is best prepared in a French Press – as the Choffy grinds steep in the boiling water, the flavor is enhanced. Choffy can also be brewed in a traditional coffee maker if it has a gold, wire, or mesh filter. Because Choffy is made entirely of the cacão (cocoa) bean, there is a very small amount of caffeine naturally. It is about the same as about 1 oz. of dark chocolate (20-24mg). The energy that Choffy lovers feel is from Theobromine. This gentle yet long lasting stimulant provides drinkers with a healthy energy lift by dilating the cardiovascular system making the heart’s job easier. Theobromine does not negatively affect the nervous system, therefore delivers energy without the crash or other negative effects of caffeine. Flavors include Ivory Coast, IC Dark, El Sonado, El Sonado Dark, as well as Volta and Volta Dark (from Ghana). The company also provides corporate gifts.

Don’t miss dropping by the Choffy booth at the Vegas Food Expo.


Samuels and Sons Seafood – Booth # 400
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A Message from Seafood Wholesaler, Sam D’Angelo, Owner

“Pushing product through the streets of Philadelphia, Guiseppe was a young fish monger with a dream. Moving from Sicily, Italy, Guiseppe envisioned owning and growing his seafood business to provide for his family in America. Working day and night, he devoted his life to catering to his customer’s seafood needs. Slowly but surely his business grew and so did his family. Guiseppe, his wife Concetta, and their four children all worked hard together to establish Ippolito’s, Philadelphia’s corner seafood retailer. Guiseppe was a hardworking man and he was my grandfather.


At the age of 13, my mother Rose, my grandfather’s eldest child, managed the store on 13th and Dickinson. She soon became immersed in the seafood business, buying and selling with her father. She eventually ran the whole business. As business was booming, our growth increased and so did our family. Everybody in our family worked in the business; my uncles, aunts, cousins, and myself. No one was exempt, and we soon found seafood to be our entire family’s way of life. We worked, ate, and loved seafood.

As I was a young boy in the 1960’s, seafood was more than a part time job, it was a passion. Unlike most kids, I didn’t play with toys, I played with the fish. When my mom was at work, I would try to guess what fish were on display. With all the different colors and shapes, “Fisher Price” had nothing on Ippolito’s! I loved being in the store, and my grandfather knew it. He developed a relationship with me as he did his seafood, with love and patience. After losing his only son, I would become the heir of Ippolito’s.

School didn’t interest me; only the fish business did. With fish consumption growing in the U.S., I knew I was in the right place to be, so I followed my dream. We began to see many different species into our little corner store in South Philadelphia. As our selection grew, so did our customer base. We soon had local chefs coming to us for their seafood needs. In 1974, Guiseppe retired and moved back home to Sicily. I then graduated from Central High School and started the manage Ippolito’s with my mother. By 1989, business had grown so much that we had to find a new location. We decided to start a separate company called Samuel’s and Son Seafood. This new company would concentrate on the wholesale business and Ippolito’s would continue its success in the retail trade. There were some struggles along the way, but we always made it out strong. My wife Donna was always by my side, sacrificing a lot to make it work. Raising a family of four children, we are still ever growing our family business in the seafood industry.”

Samuel’s and Sons, a leader in sustainable seafood looks forward to meeting everyone at the Vegas Food Expo.


Aloha Shoyu – Booth #411
Kapolei, Hawaii and Las Vegas, Nevada

Serving Up A Little Aloha

In 1946, a small shoyu (soy sauce) manufacturing plant was established in Kalihi, Hawaii by five local Japanese families amidst post World War II. Aloha Shoyu™ Company has survived through competition to become one of today’s market leaders in soy sauce sales in Hawaii. In company’s main headquarters is on Malakole Street in Kapolei, Hawaii. On April 10, 2015, Aloha Shoyu offically opened the doors of a new production warehouse in North Las Vegas, Nevada.


Aloha Shoyu continues to expand its line of quality products which now includes: Lower Salt Soy Sauce, Aloha Gold Soy Sauce, Gluten-Free Soy Sauce, White Distilled Vinegar, Cider Vinegar, Sushi No Tomo Vinegar, Barbecue Sauce, Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce, Somen Tsuyu Noodle Sauce, and Teriyaki Glaze and Marinades. The company recently came out with a new Aloha Shoyu Tamari Soy Sauce. It’s wheat-free with a bolder flavor than the Aloha Original Soy Sauce, and is a great condiment in Asian dishes, and sushi or sashimi.

In addition to being a recent recipient of the Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Hawaii, Aloha Shoyu is the official Shoyu of “Cooking Hawaiian Style,” a popular website that features dozens of Hawaiian food recipes, including main dishes, vegetables, sauces and dressings, soups and salads, and seafood. The company also operates a wholesale division and a bottling operation.

Tradition, local roots, and flavor make Aloha Shoyu products a favorite among Hawaiian islanders and visitors alike. The company looks forward to providing delicious, high quality products that bring Hawai’i and the taste of ALOHA to your home.

Aloha Shoyu is proud to be an exhibitor at the first ever Vegas Food Expo.


See a list of all of the fine food and beverage companies exhibiting at the Expo here.