Wednesday, May 22, 2013

NRA 2013

After four years, I still have a lot to learn…and to eat. But I did my fair share of both at NRA2013 this past week.

This is the best show when it comes to getting an on-the-spot education not only on food but things like Aquaponics, Food Science and Technology, Flavorings and Sustainability.

One thing for sure…the industry is getting greener.

This is one industry where things change so rapidly, you need a regular update just to keep up with the basics.

I also make it a practice to buy more than a dozen cookbooks every year just to keep up with the food trends.

One thing I did notice this year... people. Lots of people and there appeared to be a more lengthy and active level of exchange between the exhibitors and attendees.

Most people at the show were really encouraged by the upward trend.

Chefs Still Create The Magic

From television chefs to those who are teaching you the cooking basics or taking academic research and pioneering molecular gastronomy to a higher level, when all is said and done, it’s the chefs who still create the magic.

Runway Show…The Innovative Scene Stealer
Chef Works staged a Runway Show that was an NRA first. It’s about time since restaurant clothing has been way too boring over the years.

Salud to Chef Works creative team who thought up this part of their presentation. It worked brilliantly!

The Face Of The Company

CEO’s are everywhere but great ones…they are few and far between. You’ve heard a lot about CEO branding these days and a case in point was Phillip Baltz. I met him the first day of the show. Actually he seemed like someone I had met before he was so friendly.

I was impressed by his easy style but also his enthusiasm for the products at Rana Pasta and Sauces. I later found out that Rana is his client and Phillip Baltz is President of Baltz and Company, a major PR firm in New York, LA and Denver.

Looking at his long list of clients, it’s no wonder that companies want to succeed with him. 

Doesn’t everyone want to work with someone who is this passionate?

Trust Me…A Chicago Dog Does Not Have Ketchup

Once again, I listened to someone explain why you don’t put ketchup on a Chicago dog.

Every year the stories get funnier and a less worth repeating.

These Samples Are Making Me Ravenous...

When I worked for Pillsbury, we had to go in the Taste Kitchen every day to try something new.

I loved this part of my job but imagine instead of doing this for 30 minutes a day, you had to do it all day?

I swore I wasn’t going to overindulge again this year but my first bite of Eli’s new Honey Mediterranean Cheesecake with toasted pistachios and almonds yanked me in.

Several hot dogs, seafood and steaks later, I laughed and realized that taste testing was again just part of the job…that was until I tried to zip my pants up the next day.

More Desserts Are Not Necessarily Too Many

I just heard someone say “Oh No. Not another Dessert” From whose perspective?

I love all the samples but none of them better than the desserts.

Chocolate Is Not A Drug..Or Is It?

After sampling most of the chocolate at the show, I’ve decided in my next life, I’m coming back as a Chocolate Buyer.

Traveling around the world to places like Belgium, Nicaragua, Ghana, Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Guatemala in seach of chocolate is the job I have in my dreams.

Like the old saying goes, chocolate doesn’t make the world go around but it certainly makes the ride worthwhile.

A Balancing Act

Bringing all the aspects of this show together from Exhibitors, new products, educational sessions and design elements not to mention the Celebrity Chefs is a balancing act.

Congrats to the NRA for doing it well again this year.

The International Wines and Spirits Event

I use to do liquor promotions for a company when I was in my twenties. How great was it to get a paycheck to sip drinks all day and talk to people about how good they are? Sometimes it is in retrospect that you appreciate how easy a job was. 

I always find exciting, new products at this side show that has grown to be an central part of the annual event overall.

My two new favorite sips this year were:

Domaine de Canton is a ginger liqueur that was inspired by the French tradition in which sweet and fresh elixirs were fortified by fine eaux de vie and cognac. Translation: Wow – was this smooth.

No wonder since this is a small batch that is handmade using only the finest of Vietnamese ginger. 

And given that it is French Vietnamese, need I say more?

Chopin Vodka is another small batch that is a single-ingredient vodka. Take your pick of Potatoes, Rye or Wheat.

The International Wine and Spirits competition awarded Chopin Potato a gold metal.

No wonder I was just served the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had. 

Bon Appetit!