As the 2015 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo commenced at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the aromas of food permeated the air. Vendors from the United States, Canada, and Japan presented their products to restauranteurs, chefs, and hospitality agents. It is a great way for producers to showcase products because the audience comes to them.
A Celebration of Women Chefs in Fine Dining featured a panel of celebrated women chefs that explored, discussed, and debated issues related to today’s fine dining experience along with the evolution of a woman’s position in the kitchen as well as the food she creates. The panel included Chefs Zov Karamardian (Zov’s Bistro), Anne Willan (La Varenne), Cathy Pavlos (Provenance), Amy DiBiase (Tidal), Amanda Martin (Leoness Cellars Winery), and was moderated by Josh Kopelman (Dining Out San Diego). One point about fine dining that has changed in California is the way the public perceives it. Not so long ago, patrons would get dressed up for a white linen dining experience. But now, especially in SoCal, patrons will show up in t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops and think it is okay. Most do not get turned away as the restauranteurs do not want to lose the business. The new generation of diners needs to get over their “entitlement attitude” and show the proper level of respect when choosing a fine dining experience. Put on nice, presentable clothing, take in the ambiance, enjoy the culinary creativity of these talented chefs, and most importantly, put the phone away. It’s okay to take a photo, but leave the social media and texting for after dinner.
The Food Shows and Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum presented the inaugural Torch Award to Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the restaurant and foodservice community. These celebrated entrepreneurs, authors, co-owners/chefs of Border Grill Restaurants & Truck, and co-stars of over 350 episodes of the Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales” joined Certified Master Chef Ferdinand Metz in the Culinary Demonstration Theater for an intimate one-on-one discussion and demoed their Peruvian Ceviche. The ceviche was delicious just like in the restaurants. The ceviche was not overly sour or citrusy, just right. The avocado added a creamy taste and texture. The pickled red onions added a tangy and zingy flavor to the mix. Susan and Mary Sue have long been avid participants in the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and strive to use sustainable seafood at their restaurants and food truck.
Here are some innovative products to check out:
Mustache Mike’s has been a crowd favorite since the food truck craze started in SoCal. Mike started selling his family’s Italian ice at his children’s soccer games and has been a hit ever since. When the food truck craze hit, Mustache Mike’s was the perfect product to go onto a truck. At the show, they featured Da Bomb (cherry, blue razz, and lemon), Juicy Rancher (watermelon, lemon, and sour apple), Big Daddy (cherry, pineapple, and orange), and Juice Head (pineapple, banana, and orange). The Italian ice is so creamy yet they are dairy-free. No matter what the combination is, Mustache Mike’s has the flavor just for you and your guests.
OtaJoy by Otatuku presented chicken kaarage tossed in their Kimchi Sauce. It has the spicy, tangy, garlicky flavor of kimchi but works well as a sauce to toss fried chicken or pork, use as a sauce on a sandwich, taco, or burrito, or as a dipping sauce.
Gelati Celesti is a wholesale maker of gelato truffles, sorbet filled fresh fruits, gourmet ice cream cakes, and bulk gelato and sorbet. Dulce de Leche Gelato is creamy with the sweet caramel flavor infused into the gelato. The truffles would be great to have on the dessert menu or presented for special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays.
Sierra Cheese has been around since 1955 using recipes from the old country (Italy). Their string cheese is made just like the old days. You can actually pull the strands off unlike most commercial brands. The cheese also has a nice creamy and salty flavor.
Upper Crust Breads and Bon Appé have been providing premium quality bakery goods to the foodservice and retail markets for over 30 years. Their Pretzel Bread has that salt-glazed, dark brown exterior with chewy texture inside. These would be perfect as dinner rolls for a bread basket or used on the appetizer menu for sliders.
Tamaki Rice has been ranked among the top Koshikikari grown in Japan by the Japanese Association of Rice Taste Appraisers. This rice is produced by a farmer in Sacramento Valley near the base of the Sutter Buttes. The combination of the cultural practices, soil characteristics, climate, and water that flows out of the Sierra Mountains, produces the perfect Koshihikari kernel. It has the perfect stickiness and flavor. It would be great as a side for sukiyaki, tempura, tonkatsu, and musubi. Tamaki Rice is available at Marukai and Mitsuwa Markets.
Imuraya Mochi Coconut Cream Frozen Dessert Salted Caramel is a fusion of Japanese-style mocha with a frozen coconut cream filling. It is dairy-free, gluten-free, HFCS-free, vegetarian friendly, and does not contain any artificial flavors or colors. The salted caramel tastes just like salted caramel ice cream. The coconut milk gives it the perfect creaminess.
Pasta Mia started from Diego Mazza’s love of his Northern Italy heritage. Pasta Mia has been producing beautifully authentic pasta for over 30 years. Four Cheese & Truffle Ravioli with Alfredo Grana Padano Sauce is the perfect addition to a menu at an Italian restaurant. The aroma of truffles draws you in and the pasta on the ravioli is cooked to perfection.
Big Island Organics began in 1996 by Greg Petersen and Kristal Roach on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaiian Gingerade has the unexpected balance of spicy ginger and tangy lemon. Their products are currently available at Bristol Farms, Lassen’s, Nugget Markets, New Leaf, Pharmaca, Breaux Mart, Akins, Harmons, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, and Whole Foods.
Superior Farms served up Pulled American Lamb. There are 68,000 ranchers across the United States that raise lamb. Selective European cross-breeds make up Superior Farms’ USDA Prime and Choice which have large, muscular cuts with tender and mild taste. The pulled lamb was amazingly tender and full of flavor. It would be great inside a taco, burrito, or pulled lamb sandwich.
RoxiSpice’s Cyclone would be the ultimate centerpiece for a bar. The Rein Drink Mix constantly swirls and looks like one of those swirly metallic bowling balls. It has LEDs to illuminate for a mesmerizing show.
Sun Noodle Brand was started over 30 years ago in Honolulu, Hawaii by Hidehito Uki. They make approximately 100 types of products from fresh ramen noodles for noodle shops, Hawaiian saimin for local restaurants, cold Chinese noodles for in-flight meals to yakisoba for the home cook. Ramen Lab is their new creative lab, test kitchen, and tasting room in New York City. It is an arena where chefs from around the world come to showcase their traditional, regional, and nouveau noodle dishes in a pop-up setting.
Coca Cola was on hand with the Freestyle where 100+ drink choices are available for your choosing. More and more restaurants are going from the standard fountain to Freestyle to offer patrons more beverage choices. They also had samples of the Fanta line of sodas.
Save the Date for next year’s Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo – August 28-30, 2016!
To view more photos, please visit OC Food Diva’s Facebook page.
For more information:
Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo
Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90015