North Fork spice cHarissa wins specialty foods award

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Earl Fultz at the Mattituck Farmers Market in 2014. (Credit: Vera Chinese, file)

CHarissa, the Moroccan-style condiment company launched by 91-year-old Greenport resident Earl Fultz, was a first-place winner at the Specialty Food Association awards ceremony on Monday.

“I know I’m a rather elderly entrepreneur,” Fultz said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I’m not used to staying up late, but it was a very exciting event.”

CHarissa took home the top award in the “Cooking, Dipping or Finishing Sauce” at the Sofi awards, which is part of the three-day Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. There, a national panel of specialty-food retailers judged food producers in 32 categories. CHarissa took home the top award in the “Cooking, Dipping or Finishing Sauce” division.

“Sofi” stands for “Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation.” This year’s winners were selected from 2,771 entries across 32 awards categories and were announced at the red-carpet awards ceremony at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York by “Chopped” host Ted Allen and “Chopped” judge Alex Guarnaschelli.

Made from all-natural ingredients and without sugar, gluten, or MSG, cHarissa is a cumin-based condiment that can be paired with a wide range of foods including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, bread, grains, soup, or hummus. The spice is sold in a mild version and a spicier version, the difference being the amount of cayenne.

Fultz’s late wife, Gloria, developed the recipe for cHarissa over the course of their lives together and served food with her seasoning for years. In 2013, Mr. Fultz teamed up with Jeri Woodhouse of North Fork Specialty Kitchen to form cHarissa LLC and began selling the product at the Greenport Farmers Market. Today, the product can be found in places like the World Trade Center and Yankee Stadium.

“It’s an honor to win an award after such a short time in business,” said Fultz. “Once people taste it, they get it.”

Fultz’s spice is available at A Taste of the North Fork in Southold, The Market and The Cheese Emporium by Bruce and Son, both in Greenport, The Fork & Anchor in East Marion, the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck and Braun’s Seafood in Cutchogue.

Charissa is also available online at charissaspice.com.