August 28, 2006

Los Angeles Restaurant/Food Service Expo - Post Event Summary

Cool things:
1) I'm a serviceware junkie. I love all the little plates and bowls and cups and special spoons... and this one company that had this unique little fork-like device which I just spend 30 minutes trying to find a picture of no avail. I'll just have to order a couple dozen, and you can hire me, and I'll use them for your amuse bouche.

2) a silpat pan liner that you fill with one flavor/color of cake batter, then fill the rest of the way with another flavor/color of batter, to make a really lovely textured/colored/patterned design. I don't bake enough to merit owning them, but I covet them anyway. I wish I baked more.

3) a machine that makes ice cones with a screw shape in them... and they are used with a cone-shaped glass that has a corresponding screw shape, so that you screw the ice into the glass, and you fill the ice with the drink. Fantastically awesomely cool... but you have to buy their special ice machine. If I had a bar, I'd buy this thing in a minute. I do not have a bar. Woe is me.

Worst thing: fermented juice drinks. Have you ever accidentally had a container of orange juice sit in the fridge too long, but you only discovered that it had spoiled when you tasted it? Fruit juice isn't supposed to taste like old milk...but that's what they were selling. In 8 flavors. Eight flavors of funky, spoiled-tasting fruit drinks, all with that mushroomy, musty, mildewy thing going on. Because of the fermentation, they're mildly alcoholic, (5%) but I think I'd have to already be a little drunk before I'd drink this. It was horrible.

Nicest booth employee: worked for a company that made all-natural fruit juices. Teased me in a friendly way when I read the label, was very knowledgeable about his products, had a great sense of humor, and did not act like a salesperson. Did not tag-team with another salesguy. Did not compliment me within an inch of my life.

Dumbest booth employee: worked for a company that sells restaurant software. I asked her about training, and she said they only do training for people who buy the software. I asked her how I was supposed to get trained on it if I didn't have a restaurant and I wasn't going to buy the software, and she told me to get a part time job at a restaurant. WTF? Her sales partner came over and offered to sell me an 8 hour class, for $650. He said he's have to do a one-on-one sales training, which was included if I bought their $1600+ software. No thanks.

Trendiest Trend of the Tradeshow: Pomegranate. In tea. In salad dressing. In chicken sausage. In gelato. The overabundance was comical.

The saddest thing I saw: Dave from Top Chef was the last speaker scheduled on the last day of the show. Not a coveted timeslot. He was schlepping boxes of shirts and books. He looked tired and disorganized. People were failing to act nonchalant about having a person who had been on TV in their midst.

Best part about going on the afternoon of the third day: I found street parking with an hour on the meter already, so I spent only $1.00 on parking. The trade show floor wasn't crowded, so I got through nearly the whole event in those two hours. All the vendors were very loose with the samples and the promo items. I got some decent schwag, and didn't have to fight off the people for tastes of food.

Tasting's really important. One iced coffee drink was mostly ice, the next was not sweet enough. There were a few pizza crust vendors. One had bite-sized pizzas that stayed crispy even though I carried it around the trade show for a while, (waiting to see if it would wilt, but it didn't!) The soy sausages were horrible. The soy fish was amazing. There were tastes of juice drinks everywhere you looked. A few booths had chefs working right there on site, not just doing demos, actually cooking things.

Overall Grade:B+. I could not find some things I wanted to meet vendors for, and I didn't see any of the food competition stuff (which I'd seen the previous two years I attended) And I didn't see one woman working as a chef/cook in a booth, only serving tastes or general sales stuff. Plenty of guys in whites, no chicks. Just thought that was worth mentioning.

Did you go? What did you think? P. S. The winner will remain anonymous, but the limerick was a perfect rhyme, had good rhythm, and was too dirty to post. E-mail me if you want to read it.

Last thing I ate or drank: Beef rib roast, mashed potatoes, green beans amandine, chocolate cake. It was like we were having dinner with my in-laws in Chicago.

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  1. Blech on the fermented juice. ;)

  2. Sounds like fun! But ... soy fish? How do you get soy to taste like fish without using fish products?

    I'm scared.

  3. we had a booth there last year but we didn't think it would be a good bet for us...personally, i love food shows and usually eat my way through them.


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