In the sports world, she would be a hall of famer. In the specialty food circuit, Cal Hancock is clearly gold. The owner of Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company in Topsham took home the top prize this week at the Fancy Food Show in New York City for the 11th time.
She received the “sofi,” which stands for specialty outstanding food innovation, for gluten-free lobster mac and cheese.
With 2,737 entrees, this was the “toughest competition in 42 years,” said Louise Kramer, Specialty Food Association’s public relations director. Finalists represent the best of the best in gourmet food and beverages.
Hancock, who has a test kitchen in Cundy’s Harbor, won a sofi last year for her Old Port Lobster Flatbread. She ranks third in all-time top award winners in what’s known as “the Oscars of the food industry.”
To make this wheat-free dish, Hancock uses quinoa pasta with chunks of Maine lobster laced with creamy mascarpone-cheddar sauce made with rice flour. The topping is a crunchy mix of breadcrumbs made from corn and rice mixed with Pecorino-Romano cheese. She ships them frozen and sells two 9-ounce servings for $45.95.
Among the 32 categories this year, Hancock dominated the diet and lifestyle products — beating out vegan salted caramel sauce, a fruit and nut log and a freeze-dried edamame snack.
Her successful value-added food company, which makes dozen of culinary products from lobster gazpacho to lobster pot pie, has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, and served in Delta Air Lines Inc. first-class cabins.
The classic version of her lobster mac and cheese made the spotlight four years ago when top chef Bobby Flay walked into a Harpswell restaurant and challenged her to a lobster macaroni and cheese throwdown. You guessed it, Hancock won.
Can a lifetime achievement award be too far behind?