Story and show floor photo by Manos Angelakis
Product photos courtesy of the producers or importers.
International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York
After a two year hiatus because of the COVID restrictions, I was again able to attend the International Restaurant Show of New York that takes place at the Jacob Javits Center. That, and the Summer Fancy Food Show, are the only two US based culinary events that I always try to attend, plus SISAB in Lisbon and the Gastronomika Conference in San Sebastián, Spain. That’s the way I meet notable chefs and interesting food producers and keep abreast of developments in the culinary world.
This particular show allows me to monitor the product supply chain of the USA restaurant industry for excellence. In the past, the entire main floor of the Javits plus at least half of a lower floor were occupied by the show booths, with CoffeeFest another show taking a third space. Both shows are produced by the same company. It is normally a three day extravaganza, attended by practically everyone associated with the restaurant business plus, of course, the food press.
This year unfortunately the show was smaller because a number of the major exhibitors – food importers and US based food production companies – were notably absent. There were a few booths from prominent producers, for example the Belgioioso cheese company from Wisconsin was there in full force, and so was, for the first time, the Chobani milk products producer from New York; they had a smaller booth promoting their milk-free creamers and other almond-milk based products.
And talking about products, many of the dairy-free, gluten-free, meat-free producers from the US, Canada, South Korea and Japan were exhibiting. One more time, I tasted these products and my comment is: with a very few exceptions, they were almost all also taste-free.
An interesting group that had not been there in the past – at least not the exhibitors that I saw in previous shows – was spice merchants. The usual suspects were absent, but a couple new to me companies were exhibiting interesting individual herbs and spices and, more importantly, blends used to enhance the taste of dishes.
Spiceology, was there with a very interesting promotional kit called “Periodic Table of Flavor” that contained samples of their line of herbs and aromatics, plus individual spices and blends such as the Kb (Korean BBQ), Ta (cut Tarragon), P (Smoked Paprika), Hb (Smoky Honey Habanero) and others. They also offer salts, fruit and vegetable powders and many other taste-enhancing products. The sample kit was prepared with the professional chef in mind but, even though you might not be a member of the restaurant community, if you use a lot of spices in your cooking, like I do, it’s worth checking this company out. In their website they have links on the home page for both home cooks and professional chefs. http://www.spiceology.com
My usual spice merchant Spice Lab did not participate in this show, but they will be at the Summer Fancy Food Show later on in the year and I will explore then some of their products I don’t already know. See our Spice Lab and Spice Lab Redux articles.
An interesting group of food enhancers were the products of Sempio, a Korean company that exhibited traditional sauces and pastes, plus oils and vinegars, teas and tea blends, soy sauce, seasoning packages, seaweed, instant noodles and of course an outstanding, perfectly-made kimchi that I tasted at the show and loved! Actually, once I finish writing this article, I’m on my way to the Korean supermarket near me to get a few things I want to try, as they only offered at the show samples of the kimchi. http://globalsampio.com
The Idaho Potato Commission was there with samples and an interesting booklet called “The Foodservice Toolkit”. Everything a cook wishes or needs to know about potatoes is in this booklet, including recipes, methods of preparation and cooking and other pertinent information. http://www.idahopotato.com
A New Jersey regional farm, producing mushrooms and poultry was there. It is called Zell’s Farm and is located in Hillsborough. I’ve seen their mushrooms in a few Farmer’s Markets and I found out that they also sell, in addition to 9 types of fresh mushrooms, herbs, garlic and chicken- and duck- eggs, assorted mushroom dumplings, mushroom steamed buns, mushroom quiches and pies and dried mushroom products. Worth exploring if you are one of our New Jersey readers. http://www.zellsfarm.com
Another interesting exhibitor that was new to me was The Timeless Food company of Montana. They were showing packages of all kinds of lentils in colors I have never seen before, plus dry chickpeas and barley. I’m a big lentil soup lover as well as loving mushroom-barley with flanken, soup. I now have a pack of Black Beluga Lentils I’m planning to make soup with. Interestingly, these products also happen to be Star-K kosher. At their site http://www.timelessfood.com you will find useful information including a number of recipes.
Saratoga Garlic, is a family owned and operated garlic farm in Saratoga Springs, New York. Their booth showed different jars of garlic-based aiolis and spice combinations and I came back from the show with a squeeze plastic bottle of Wasabi & Horseradish Aioli that is great with fried fish fillets or fried shrimp; I cooked shrimp over the weekend and it was scrumptious. Their website is http://www.saratogagarlic.com
From Alba in Italy’s Piemonte (Piedmont) TartufLanghe is an exporter of a number of types of truffles; white truffles (tuber magnatum Pico), winter black truffles (melanosporum) and summer truffles (scorzone) plus some interesting derivative products like freeze-dried white or black truffle slices, truffle pasta, truffle sauces, truffle mayonnaise, both white and black truffle olive oils, perlage – made from black truffle juice that has been spherized and looks like caviar, plus numerous other truffle based products. Their site is http://www.tartuflanghe.com
In our Piemonte article, you can read about our personal truffle hunting experience when we visited Torino and Alba.
Finally, Beviva showed PURPO a purple sweet potato granola that includes dried fruits (sultanas, cranberries and papaya), shredded coconut and brown rice, and no milk or milk product. Website http://www.bevivafoods.com
Granola is something that I don’t normally indulge in, but Barbara does and she loved it for breakfast and as a snack. I guess it is good for people with digestive sensitivities.
They were a number of other very interesting exhibitors but most were only geared towards a strictly wholesale environment, so I’m not going to mention them here.
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