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Custom Theme: Specialty Foods

Custom Theme: Specialty Foods

The creamy decadence of artisan cheese…the aroma of fresh-baked bread dipped in small batch olive oil… the simple pleasure of wildflower honey… whatever your culinary delights, Specialty Food had a hand making the introduction.

The Specialty Food Association (SFA), formed in 1952, is a membership-based trade organization dedicated to “shaping the future of food”. Membership is diverse. Artisan purveyors of every edible imaginable mix with food entrepreneurs. Professional chefs, food importers, distributors, buyers, and other culinary experts in SFA membership make fine dining possible.

Shaping the Future of Food

Specialty Food sponsors the sofi (“Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation”) Awards. The sofi Awards, established in 1972, introduce Americans to new foods delights in 39 categories. Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows introduce winners, as well as up-and-coming food trends, to the broader public.

Sofi Award winners are of interest to gastronomes, academics, and economists alike. Trends identified by Specialty Food have great impact. Their influence shapes tastes in restaurants and grocery shelves alike. So, too, can food trends make and break markets.

Additionally, Specialty Food bestows competitive Leadership, Lifetime Achievement, and Hall of Fame awards.

Specialty Foods uses OpenWater Awards software to manage these award programs.  

Tasteful Theme Templates

To start, Specialty Food required a custom template. They wanted something that matched their existing brand assets (color scheme, fonts, logo, etc.). They also wanted the theme to be flexible enough to use every year across all award categories.

OpenWater built a custom theme to these specifications. The theme is responsive, which means it scales to fit any device. One important element to the design, behind-the-scenes, are widgets.

Widgets compartmentalize data. This is a beneficial structure because it allows for easy updates. Widgets also automate historical data so website visitors can find previous years award winners. The custom theme continues to deliver.

“Specialty Foods reached out with their new list of judges for the year,” explains Leila Younes, who helped implement the theme development and manages the account.

“They requested a roster update, sorted in alphabetically. By using our wonderful widgets, it took little time to update all copy and images. Widgets also made it significantly easier to quickly reorganize information at client request. They also empower the client to do it themselves.”

Specialty Food custom theme

This screenshot shows the custom theme OpenWater built for Specialty Foods. By matching the client’s style guide there is a seamless flow between the client site and OpenWater. This custom theme template saves the client significant setup time and costs.


Specialty Foods gained three important ingredients working with OpenWater:

  1. A robust award management platform. OpenWater Awards directs applicants and reviewers through the lengthy, multi-step review process. The process ensures fairness and data security. 
  2. A dependable award management platform with no downtime. Award programs are always time-sensitive. Magnify that importance when it comes to actual perishables, as the case with evaluation required of the sofi Awards.

    Consider the fragility of the food samples under review. (Would you want a judge to encounter any delay once the refrigerated samples arrive?) A dependable, easy-to-access platform is a must for reviewers located around the country.
  3. A time- and cost-saving custom theme template. Specialty Foods saves considerable time using a custom theme template. With so many awards and subsequent categories it would be easy to spend considerable time updating food information and judge biographies. By using a custom theme template the food experts can return to their creative culinary endeavors sooner.

In the end, Specialty Food’s custom theme is worth its weight in gold…or perhaps valued in European white truffles, the most expensive food in the world.


Photo by Brooke Lark

Katie is OpenWater's Content Director. Her interests include entrepreneurship, permaculture, and blockchain. She enjoys spicy food and salty words.

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