May 29th, 2017

NRA 2017 – Top Trends

Posted in Consumer Trends, Culinary Conferences, Food Shows, Food Trends, Packaging, Product Innovation

Top Trends in Food from the
2017 NRA Show

Wednesday wrapped up a great week of learning and exploration at the 2017 National Restaurant Association show in Chicago, Il.

There was so much to see, touch, taste, and learn, but I’ll try to pick a few really popular trends to highlight for those of you who couldn’t make it.

Let’s dive in…

#1 – Cold Brew Nitro Coffee

Well if there was one trend that popped up more than any other, it was cold brew nitro coffee. On tap, artisan, slushy, and soft serve varieties available for whatever application you could imagine.

#2 – Go Nuts for Donuts!

Honestly, donuts haven’t really gone anywhere. Everyone loves fried dough. But NRA would show us that donuts, especially exciting, decadent donuts, are thriving. People are loving the idea of customization and seeing donuts in unique places like sandwiches and sundaes.

#3 – Compostables

All image above courtesy of PacknWood. Available at

If you want to take a stake in this millennial market you better be using compostable products. From plates, cups, straws, wrapper, utensils, to-go boxes, and even chopsticks, compostable products have become a must for any operation that wants to be a serious competitor.


Other noteworthy trends included sparkling beverages, including coffee and kombucha, guacamole variations, atomization in the food process, and a continuing array of vegetarian and vegan food products.

If you’ve noticed any cool trends or were at the NRA 2017 show and saw something I missed, let me know! We’d love to hear from you.



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January 30th, 2017

Food Trends: Winter Fancy Food Show 2017

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Shows, Food Trends, Healthy, Japanese, New Foods and Flavors

2017 Winter Fancy Food Show Trends

Well the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show (FFS) in San Francisco is a wrap. With 3 showrooms full of great food, ingenious concepts, and wild fusions, picking just a few to highlight will be difficult, but I think I’m up to the challenge.

So let’s look at the 4 items that popped up the most and were used diversely at the FFS.

1. Harissa


The heat is on, and you’d know this is true if you were anywhere near the FFS last week. Chile peppers, hot sauces, and spicy rubs were prevalent, but none shone quite as bright as the humble harissa. This complex North African chile paste made the rounds with applications in cheeses, simmer sauces, dry rubs, hummus, and even butter! So, it looks like harissa is here to stay and I say bring the heat!

2. Yuzu

Research Chefs

Photo Credit:

A yuzu is a small, wrinkled citrus fruit that looks similar to a lemon used popularly in Japanese cuisine. The fruit itself hails from China originally and has become quite popular in Korean dishes as well. Yuzu creatively made its way into powdered seasonings, teas, infused shoyu sauces, and candies. With a complicated sweet, citrus, and sour flavor profile, and the proliferation of Eastern cuisine in the U.S., I imagine we’ll be seeing yuzu flavored items a lot more on menus and grocery shelves.

3. Umami Pastes

Culinary Consultant

This is a product that really excites me. Umami pastes activate our 5th taste by masterfully combining umami flavors like porcini mushroom, tomato, anchovy, and tomato and concentrating them into a rich paste that can be used in sauces, gravies, and pastas, or as rubs for meats. The pastes add a rich savory flavor that really takes you where you want to go. There are also miso based Asian versions with varieties such as ginger or togarashi pepper.

4. Hummus

Chef Consultants

The mighty chickpea continues to drive forward. There were more than a few new hummus flavors popping up at the Food Show, including some using the other trends we talked about above, but I was pleased to find black garlic among the troves. With its tangy richness and bold aroma, black garlic marries perfectly with a bright, smooth hummus. Another supremely unique product was the shelf-stable hummus developed by Hummustir. This clean label product comes with the ingredients in pre-portioned pouches that are shelf stable for up to 18 months. You simply stir the ingredients together and presto hummus. It’s darn good too!

For the sake of accuracy, coconut was also widely popular this year being found everywhere from water, paste, and ice cream to crisps, simmer and hot sauces. I only don’t mention it above because coconut has proved itself widely popular in the past. It’s a trend that’s not fading anytime soon.

That’s it for this week. I certainly hope you enjoyed reading about the FFS because I certainly enjoyed visiting it.



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December 9th, 2013

World of Flavors 2013

Posted in Celebrity Chefs, Culinary Conferences, Food Shows, New Foods and Flavors, Trends

We arrived at the World of Flavors this year, to the yellowing vines of the vineyards. With the conference two weeks later than the year before, the harvest was over and the estates were bare of fruit. The valley was quiet, missing was the bustle of the grape gathering and the energy of the farmers.

This year’s theme is “Kitchens Connected”. Whether you are looking at how a chef is connected to his kitchen, the landscape around him, or the rest of the world via social media, the importance of our connection to those around us is so important.

Day 1:

Nathan Myrhvold of Modernist Cuisine gave the opening speech at the conference. He talked about why we shouldn’t be afraid to try new things (apparently including adding salt to the wine that Gina Gallo donated).

This was followed by commentary from Claus Meyer, founder of Noma, a self-ascribed fat kid growing up, with a father who demanded excellence to the point of being obsessive. Among his most proud accomplishments is his prison program, where he mentors prisoners with a desire to become a chef. He has also opened a cooking school in Bolivia with the aim of allowing marginalized families to rise from poverty while at the same time create a New Bolivian Cuisine. You can read more here:

Later we would hear from Edward Lee on the evolution of Southern Cuisine, and how it sometimes takes an outsider to rethink a classic. His recipe for Southern fried chicken is a study in the fusion of Adobo chicken with the Southern classic. A partial poach in an adobo broth (with vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, garlic, and bay leaves) is followed by a buttermilk and flour dredging, and a brief rest. Since the chicken is already partially cooked, the chicken only takes 5-6 minutes to cook compared to regular fried chicken, which typically takes 15 minutes to fry. The pre-poach serves as a timesaver in the restaurant as well, guaranteeing fresh chicken is sent to the table every time.

At the World Marketplace, the French onion soup at Maxime Bilet’s booth was the showstopper, and one of the only booths with a long line. Simple really, the soup had the purest, most intense onion flavor, and was complemented with micro-root vegetables such as leek, red onion, and carrot. One can only assume that his secret is the pressure cooker that he swears is the world’s most underutilized timesaver. The broth was so flavorful it left me wanting more than just a small taste.

Christopher Kostow, The chef at The Inn at Meadowood showcased his take on the rutabaga. It is cooked in a crust of salt, egg whites, and the volcanic ash common to the area around the restaurant. To serve, the crust is broken open and a lovely golden red rutabaga emerges, slightly salty, definitely earthy, but very delicious.

My favorite dessert of the night was the apricot dolma at the Chobani booth. It was a sweet take on the traditional dolma. Apricots rehydrated in sugar syrup are stuffed with a Chobani yogurt and mascarpone blend then dusted with pistachios. It was a nice refreshing dessert that was super light, and on the healthy side.

Day 2:

The day started with a general session that discussed the place for French cuisine at the millennial table.

Chef Masayasu Yonemura showed us several interesting Japanese foods, including O-Fu (dried wheat gluten) that has been rehydrated in milk-egg-honey-5 spice powder mixture. It was then pan-fried like French toast and spread with a black truffle and port wine reduction. He finishes it with griddled foie gras medallions, Japanese greens mixed with tofu and tahini, and a carrot-leek fond de veau.

Sang-Hoon Degeimbre of L’Air Du Temps in Belgium jokes that the first time he ever cooked was the day that he opened his restaurant. Two years later, he received his first Michelin star, and the second one in 2007. He showed us recipe for earthy potato “humus”. He distilled the essence of the dirt from the fields his restaurant as part of the dish. Tourneed potatoes cooked in salt brine are finished with soil water and dehydrated potato skin powder. He cooks from emotion and is drawn to root vegetables because of his recent return to his own roots in Korea.

Alex Gauthier, chef at La Grenouillere shows us that food should be emotional, and in his sorrel ice cream dessert, he evokes the stronger emotion of anger. The sorrel ice cream is used to fill a clear sugar orb. The plate features grilled sorrel leaves, and sorrel oil. Once the plate is set in front of the customer, the server smashes the sugar orb of green sorrel ice cream onto the plate, surprising the diner. His approach to food has breathed life back into French cuisine with his fun and inventive ideas. He has definitely found the formula for appealing to millennials.

My first seminar was on sous vide. It was a rather interesting seminar, which started with a Japanese-American hybrid dish. Shinobu Namae prepared a beef dish hat was marinated with Shio-Koji. Shio-Koji contains koji, a bacteria that is essential to sake-making. The bacteria Aspergillus Oryzae produces several enzymes that break down the rice into glucose. These same enzymes work on the protein in meat to tenderize it. The salt added to the Shio-koji inhibits the growth of unwanted organisms. Shio-koji is very high in umami, and can replace up to 50% of the salt in a recipe without compromising flavor. Chef Namae cooked the Shio-Koji marinated sirloin in sous vide at 52C until the internal temperature equalized. He then grilled the beef between sheets of cedar wood. The beef was served with persimmon and turnip dressed in a tofu dressing.

Cesar Vega gave an interesting talk on how to consistently sous vide eggs. After thousands and thousands of eggs were cooked sous vide he was able to conclude that a mixture of time and temperature can give a specific result. For example, if you want eggs yolks the consistency of honey, you could cook at 60C for 300 minutes or at 63C for 100 minutes and achieve the same result. These temperatures take into account the proper temperature calibration, as the incorrect temperature can skew the results. See the link for a graphical representation:

At the general session, we heard from Jared Rivera, founder of Chef’s feed. It’s a rather useful app to chefs. It shows restaurant recommendations from some of the world’s best chefs. The Chefs Feed Network on YouTube showcases hours of video footage from the kitchens of the U.S. brightest chefs as well as instructional videos on their favorite foods. There was some thought provoking discussion during this session regarding social media and its impact on a restaurant. The average millennial wants a restaurant connection, not just a meal. They want to feel as if they play some part in the success of your brand. They don’t want your marketing intern to do your tweets, and they can tell the difference. After all, one of the most important things to the millennial generation is authenticity.

The afternoon session brought us the food of Josep Roca of El Celler de Can Roca. The restaurant was named the #1 restaurant in the world for 2013 by Restaurant Magazine. He showed us several interesting techniques, including direct smoking, which is a technique he uses for squid parmentier. Throughout the entire presentation, the one common thread was the love of family. His close family ties are so apparent; in how he lovingly talks of his mother and her food, and how talks so fondly of the relationship with his brothers. Here the connection to the family is the sole reason that the food has become the best in the world.

Here is a picture of them serving their parents “The World”:

In my kitchen workshop with Virgilio Martinez we sampled interesting foods from Peru, including chunos, a form a freeze-dried potatoes. We also had tiger’s blood: a puree of Aji peppers, algae broth, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and lime juice in several different presentations, including fish ceviche and root vegetable ceviche.

We tried kaniwah, which is a smaller cousin to quinoa. The seeds are about ½ the size of regular quinoa, but stay rather crunchy.

The highlights of the world marketplace for Friday included the smoked potatoes with black garlic vinaigrette and fermented ramp mayonnaise from Bar Tartine. They were one of my favorite foods at the entire conference.

Then I had the wild seaweeds braised with Dungeness crab from Lummi Island chef Blaine Wetzel, the very essence of the sea in a steaming bowl. The crab flavor was intensely flavored, yet softened by the briny saltiness of the seaweed.

The beet-cured salmon with pea cake and sweet honey sauce is almost too beautiful to eat, taking on a brilliant cranberry color from the beets.

Day 3:

My morning session was with Andre Chiang and Jesus Nunez on the topic “Hybrid Inspirations and Unique Culinary Philosophies: Dazzling Diners From Spain To Singapore”. The chefs talked about from where they draw their inspirations.

Andre Chiang’s Octaphilosophy consists of 8 elements that he feels are unchanging: Memory, Purity, Terroir, Uniqueness, South, Artisan, Salt and Texture. He incorporates at least 3 of these elements into each of his dishes. He is a master of making dishes that are not what they seem. His version of risotto uses squid cut into rice shapes then cooked in cauliflower puree and finished with shaved macadamia to resemble cheese. The dish has the consistency of risotto, yet is totally dairy free. He also makes rice crackers from dried cooked rice and charcoal powder, which he deep-fries to make crispy.

As far as Jesus Nunez inspiration, his comes literally from the design world. A former graffiti artist, he sees the beauty all around him. He draws inspiration from architecture, the art of the masters, the countryside, or wherever he finds beauty. The dish that he showed us was “Not Your Average Egg”, which included many elements of nature. The dish consists of a sweet potato puree with a “nest” of al dente spring vegetables. But what makes this dish so memorable is the “egg”. Sun choke that is cooked in methylcellulose then pureed is poured into an empty eggshell, and the egg yolk is added back in. Once the “egg” is baked, it is peeled and placed in the “nest”.

For a great representation of his work, you can view it here:ñez

During Saturday’s black box exercise, several powerhouse chefs took the stage to showcase their unique interpretations of the trends that were on the inspiration board at the conference.

For his black box exercise Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions chose eggs, quinoa, fermentation, and mushrooms. His restaurant was graced the “Best New Restaurant” award by the James Beard Foundation for 2013. He talked us through his process for salt-cured eggs, and it had me intrigued: 10 days covered in salt, then 20 days of air-drying, followed by a light smoking. The eggs are grated and have the consistency of cheese. He also shared his secret for taking quinoa to the next level: cook it in water, then fry it to make it super crunchy. His dish includes fermented turnips and wild mushrooms cooked in tons of butter.

The words that called to Elizabeth Falkner were: “deep space flavors”, “no foam”, “cooking from the inside out”. For her ingredients, she chose farro, burdock, Fresno chiles, jalapenos, bonito, dashi, squid ink, lemon zest, xanthan gum, bottarga, and soy for her ingredients. In her rebellious nature, she chose to use foam, stating that it can never really go out of style. For deep space flavors, she chose the bonito, dashi, lemon zest, and peppers for a complex “deep space” flavor profile. The most interesting part of her demo was where she used charcoal to cook squid from the inside out. Cleaned squid were cooked atop the hot coals of charcoal. You could literally see the squid cooking, contracting and steaming as it cooked. The effect was mesmerizing to the audience, and a really cool idea.

Kyle Connaughton merges new with old by marinating his cod in Saikyo Miso (a sweet miso made predominantly rice, also called Old West Coastal Miso) and yuzu kosho. He then grills it over binchotan charcoal and finishes it with charred uni, ginger buds, and shiso and wasabi buds:

Maxime Bilet used the terms “no foam” and scavenged ingredients to deconstruct his grandmothers pot au feu using sun choke, beef, and charred leeks:

After the black box session, we saw Hajime Kasuga of Ache in Lima Peru prepare an interesting twist on sushi. He is one of the premier Nikkei chefs in Peru. He fills a shrimp shell with cooked tapioca and pairs it with dehydrated scallops. The dish is accompanied by powdered shrimp shell, fish roe, and sliced lime sprinkled with chile powder:

As for tastings at the World Marketplace here are my favorites:

Dried Turnip Pasta: Christian Puglisi of Relae showed us an interesting way to prepare turnips. First they are dried in an oven, and then rehydrated by soaking for 2 hours. Once they are soaked, they are cut into juliennes and boiled in salted water and drained. A quick cook in a sauté pan with butter renders them pasta like, slightly al dente, but with the subtle flavor of the turnips. They are finished with chervil, horseradish, and mustard seeds. His way of cooking

Almond and Pistachio Keskul: another recipe from the Chobani folks. A keskul is a traditional Turkish almond pudding. It was finished with Turkish cotton candy, chopped pistachios, and pomegranate seeds.

The afternoon’s final general session before the closing ceremony featured a demo by the affable chef, Isaac McHale of The Clove Club in East London. He showed us a fried chicken recipe using pine salt that I had the luxury of tasting at the opening world marketplace on Thursday:

The closing address by Dr. Tim Ryan was one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking presentations of the entire conference. His parallels between the art, music, and culinary worlds was illuminating, with examples of how a simple change or addition can result in a giant leap forward in innovation. He asks us to pay attention to the clues and hints that surround us, opening our minds to the possibility of innovation.

February 8th, 2013

Takeaways from the Winter Fancy Food Show 2013

Posted in About Allison, Food Shows, New Foods and Flavors, Trends

I had the opportunity to walk the Winter Fancy Food Show this year in San Francisco and was able to take away several trends in addition to new products.


The first 15 minutes into my trek of this year’s food smacked me in the face with one very apparent truth: “Gluten-Free” products are here to stay. Where once considered a trend by most industry analysts, gluten-free products have made the jump to the mainstream. A search of the exhibitors on the FFS website shows a total of 284 vendors tagging their product as “Gluten-Free”. I was, at one point, literally surrounded by gluten-free alternative. Products ranging from gluten-free pasta made with Japanese yam, to bakery products made from brown rice and quinoa, illustrate the need to satisfy the palate of the gluten-free consumer. One of the newer products was a gluten-free pretzel by the makers of “Mary’s Gone Crackers” in a curry flavor:

Coconut Flavored Products

Another trend that seemed to dominate at the show was the wide variety of coconut flavored products: ice cream, coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut chips seemed to lurk around every corner. The Blue Monkey Coconut Powder pack seemed to be one of the more innovative and portable options for the consumer on the go: just add water and you have the perfect electrolyte packed drink!


Another major trend at its peak is anything pickled. Boat Street Pickles, for example, walks the sweet/sour/savory line with a perfect balance of flavors: choose from pickled figs, pickled prunes, pickled raisins, or pickled red onions. These products have a great flavor and can add a special flair to dishes. I personally think that the pickled raisins would beautifully complement a slightly sweet coconut curry, while the pickled figs beg for blue cheese and fatty bacon.

Convenient Meal Prep

A big trend in today’s marketplace centers on the convenience of meal preparation.  We like to make food at home that tastes like we spent hours crafting it, yet has minimal fuss or preparation. Elizabeth Jean’s Caramel Apple Pecan Pie kit does just that. Everything you need including sliced apples is included in the kit. Just assemble and bake, easy as that! Perfect to take to a party or to celebrate that special occasion with family, what could be easier?

Innovative Packaging

In the alcohol/mixer category were several interesting innovations revolving packaging. First is the Wine Stack, which is 4 plastic stem-less wine glasses stacked and shrink wrapped to give the appearance of a wine bottle, but with portion control built in as an answer to the problem of oxidation. Perfect for those wine drinkers that have a single glass each night:

Another interesting packaging item in the alcohol/mixer category is Twist in a Glass. Speaking with the booth representative, this packaging was a debut to the show to see what kind of reception it would get:

Overall the response from the patrons of the show seemed pretty positive with people crowding the booth and begging to take a sample home (including me). It is packaged in a sealed martini glass in several different flavors; just add the alcohol and you have the perfect alcoholic beverage in a convenient disposable martini glass.

A final representative of the alcohol/mixer category is the drinking Balsamic by Bevivo. Based on classic drinks of Italy, these drinking Balsamics in cherry and lemon flavors can be mixed straight with sparkling water, or spiked with a blend of Gin and Vodka for a well-balanced, slightly tart drink. Interestingly to me, I saw this product at the show, and then came across 3 articles in less than a week that discuss the use of vinegar shrubs or Balsamic as a balancing component in a cocktail.

Definitely not a new idea in itself, drinking Balsamic is the secret weapon in the toolbox of several award-winning cocktail masters. I am definitely thinking about adding it to my own toolbox, considering the range of fruit flavored vinegars on the market. In my case, it is inspiration for a cocktail with a riff on the flavors of the tropics. How about coconut white Balsamic and roasted pineapple?

New Products and Flavors

Beyond this category, I found an interesting product that could cross several food and alcohol categories: the edible perfumes by Amoretti. In flavors ranging from pineapple and almond, to basil and baked bread, there are over 100 flavors of this interesting product. Usage suggestions include spraying it into a bag of cookies and then sealing. I could definitely see these products utilized in more molecular creations where atmospheric effects elevate the experience. Imagine a dessert under glass, that when uncovered released the flavor of jasmine blossoms. One wonders if a spontaneous transport to the tropics of Asia were possible?

Numi also has a few innovative flavors in the organic tea category. Innovative you say? Well, how about a line of savory teas? Fennel Spice, Carrot Curry, Broccoli Cilantro, and Beet Cabbage are among the flavors debuted at the show. Each is a unique blend of vegetables, decaffeinated tea, wild harvested herbs, and aromatic spices, according to the brief on Numi Tea’s website. Positioned primarily as a low calorie snack alternative, this line of teas warms the palate, offering savory comfort and wholesome good flavor in a convenient teabag.

In the healthy oil category is tea-seed oil produced by Arette. A high smoke point oil (425F) with pure flavor, tea-seed oil is also touted as a low inflammatory oil, adding additional health benefits. I tried the rosemary infused oil and was surprised by the clean flavor and minimal aftertaste. I do wonder what the availability of this product will be long term, but we can only wait and see.

In the green packaging category is this interesting set of biodegradable wooden cutlery from Aspenware of Canada. Said to be fully biodegradable in 45 days, it offers an alternative to plastic cutlery and is geared towards QSR and catering sectors of the industry. One does have to wonder just how sustainable this product is, after all the shortage of disposable chopsticks in Asia is causing a change in the culture. We will have to see how this one fairs in the marketplace.

I honestly could not resist this last set of pictures. I mean who doesn’t love a good dance off now and then?? My bets are on the Jelly Belly, what about you?

November 28th, 2012

Arc of Flavor Trends – World of Flavors 2012

Posted in About Allison, Food Shows

The 15th annual Worlds of Flavor® conference was held at the Culinary Institute of America this November in St. Helena, California.  This food centric conference brings the best and brightest chefs and culinary players in the industry together to discuss what is relevant; happenings in the food industry and what trends are emerging.  This year’s theme was “Arc of Flavor”, re-imagining culinary exchange from the Mediterranean and Middle East to Asia.  As always, there were many interesting discussions and lots of amazing food.

The conference holds general sessions based on relevant topics that tie the chefs and presenters together, relating to the central theme, Arc of Flavor.  Along with this, more specific breakout sessions are also offered, and attendees chose these sessions based on their area of interest.  Each day, the chefs from all of the sessions would re-create the dishes they demonstrated or discussed in the “World Marketplace”. This was an amazing combination of sights, aroma and tastes of the day in a large wine barrel room with decorations and live entertainment that made you feel like you were in a lavish street market in a foreign land.

One main focus of the conference was the discussion of SPICES.  The fascinating history of spice origins and the trade routes that spread regional spices throughout the world were discussed. 

The area of focus, the Mediterranean-Middle East-Asia, is a very diverse and large area to cover, and the spices and combinations used may vary, but spices are the cornerstones of each cuisine.  Unlike the traditional American use of spices, which tends to enhance or season a dish, in these regions, the spice can be the dish’s focal point.  The use of complex spices, combinations of spices, and even techniques (grinding, toasting, sautéing, drying, etc.) to change the flavor and dimensions of the spices were closely examined.  Almost without fail, the chefs emphasized the need for fresh spices.   Not just fresh, but spices ground as needed, or toasted a la minute. This is fairly opposite to the way most American consumers think of spices and their use, keeping containers of dried spices in their pantries for months.  

The spices used in the regional dishes also screamed of local availability.  Herbs and spices available in the area and in a particular season were used to create traditional dishes.  It makes sense to relate this idea to a dish we may be more familiar with, such as lamb with mint sauce.  Both lamb and mint being at the prime in the springtime, one of the reasons they are used and pair together so well. 

I walked away from the conference with a list of spices to play with in the kitchen in new ways, a few examples are: grains of paradise, spearmint, Za’atar, Irfa pepper, sumac, Aleppo pepper, and curry leaves.  I also pledged to re-examine some ingredients I have used in the past to find new ways to make the flavors pop in new dishes.  I love preserved lemons and now plan try them out in new ways, as I fell in love with their aroma, texture, and flavor again at the conference. 

I also tasted Sichuan peppercorns with Chef Bridget at the marketplace; we had both tasted these special peppercorns in dishes before but couldn’t remember eating them by themselves.  My eyes grew wide as I chewed the Sichuan peppercorn, and I was amazed as my tongue became numb, not from the heat, but a unique reaction that I had not experienced before.  We both agreed it was a foreign experience to us and might add a unique dimension to dishes.  I think there will be more to come in future blogs about my experiments with Sichuan peppercorns. 

CHILES also played a prominent role, a trend that has been moving upward slowly in the USA for some time.  We had a great discussion in a breakout session around Sriracha, one of my favorite chile sauces, which is a chile based sauce that is more American than Thai.  It was developed in the USA by Huy Fong Foods as an answer to an American version of the fiery traditional version.  Sriracha can be found in fine dining, used by Jean-Georges Vongerichten in his crab toasts with Sriracha mayonnaise, to street food truck Kogi BBQ, offering a Sriracha bar coated in chocolate (now on my must try list!), to Pei Wei’s limited time offer of Sriracha Chicken or even more mainstream as Sriracha spiked mayonnaise dipping sauce at Applebee’s.  Sriracha addresses the need for bold flavors for American consumers but still keeps a familiar flavor profile that isn’t too polarizing.  A few other chilies that I saw around the conference (and have been playing with in the kitchen) that I think have great potential to be the next chipotle include dried cascabel (Mexico) with a wonderful complex, fruity flavor; Malagueta pepper (Brazil/Portugal); Aji Amarillo peppers; Birds Eye chilies; and Urfa/Isot peppers.  A few chile based sauces that are big on flavor and have great potential for foodservice include: Piri Piri (made from African Birds Eye chile), Harissa, sambal, and sweet chile sauce.  And please don’t forget Sriracha, in just about any sauce, or alone as a condiment.

QUALITY was another main theme of the conference.  Many of the chefs told stories of how they could not get the same ingredients in the United States as in their homeland, so they had to substitute what was available locally in California.  They found it amazing that Americans did not visit the grocery store every day to get fresh, local food and that the food we are eating might be from Chile, instead of from down the road.  Everything in the USA was pre-packaged, they couldn’t even tell what the original origin was. This was a unique perspective on our “convenience” foods.  

The quality theme shone through when the founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, told the story of how he created his company.  His story and passion around quality was so moving. If he were to stand in the grocery store aisles, no other yogurt would be purchased! His philosophy was inspiring, wanting to bring the best quality product to the market that can also be accessible by everyone.  His company is tightly tied to the farmers that produce the milk used for his product as well as the communities where his company has plants that produce the finished product.  He convinced farmers to stop giving growth hormones to their cows since he strongly felt this produced better quality milk.  He put his money where his philosophy is, paying more for this milk that he felt was superior.   His story made me confident that American consumers value quality products, and Chobani will continue to thrive if they keep true to their philosophy.  

The chefs also emphasized the need to try the foods in the native ENVIRONMENT and this makes perfect sense.  Imagine a spit of lamb, slowly roasting over a hot wood fire in a vibrant marketplace in Bursa, Turkey, full of street sounds and smells.  The lamb is slowly caramelized on the outside as it is cooked, then sliced thinly and served on a warm, steaming flatbread to enjoy while wandering the streets of the market. 

This dish, Cağ kebabı, would be completely different served on a formal white dinner plate in a restaurant; the atmosphere creates part of the enjoyment of the dish. You are a participant and can see the cooking in progress.  Chef Suvir Suran may have put it best when he stated that foods are only “authentic at the moment”, the place, time, ingredients, people ARE the dish and you can never replicate them exactly. 

Along with the environment, the place from where food originates was also a common thread in the presentations.  Angel Leon is the owner and executive chef of a Spanish restaurant called Aponiente.  He calls the ocean his source of inspiration, creating new, exciting and innovative dishes inspired by the sea.  He has an Iberian sausage on the menu, but one made from seafood since that is what is available to him locally.  He believes simplicity always tends to produce the greatest results and is dedicated to producing amazing food from simple ingredients.  He mentioned he would rather create a truly unique and flavorful dish from a lesser-known fish a customer has never been exposed to than to create a dish from something familiar and known.  He also makes an important link of the dishes he creates to where the food originates. The restaurant menu looks more like a marine biologist chart of the ocean than a typical menu, and he truly ties food to its origin.  This local focus on ingredients has made success stories of ingredients, such as Iberico ham, and of whole cuisines, such as the insurgence of Nordic restaurants emphasizing their local ingredients.  One great example of this is restaurant NOMA in Copenhagen, stayed tuned to an upcoming blog on my visit to this epic restaurant that has been the #1 restaurant for the last three years.  It was an amazing meal and I can’t wait to share the experience and the pictures.

Just as important as what WAS presented, was what wasn’t.  Interestingly absent was the idea around convenience and health.  Convenience almost seemed to be a dirty word, indicating lower quality, ease of use over flavor, and mass production, antithesis to the conference themes and discussions.  And while I say that health was not a focus, I mean this not in the way one might assume.  It was not a conference of indulgent foods; rich, decadent use of butter, oils and fat, with little vegetables present.  Instead, it was a conference with an emphasis on flavor, with small amounts of healthy fats, plenty of whole grains, fresh, local vegetables and fruits, and small portions.  Also key are quality ingredients, simply prepared and full of flavor and sense of place.  But these facts were not new, they have been the way of life for these cultures for hundreds of years.  Meat plays a very small role in the center of the plate, and the flavor is derived from the unique use of spices, quality ingredients and simple preparations.  So, the idea of “healthy” cooking wasn’t emphasized, it was innate.  I have a strong belief this is how the obesity epidemic can start to turn around here in the USA by focusing on healthy foods that taste great naturally, smaller portions and food that has amazing flavors naturally.

One final observation about the conference – it covered such a wide and diverse range of cuisines: Turkey, Japan, Spain, Lebanese, Netherlands, and Israel just to name a few.  There was not a singular focus on fine dining but discussions on menu items such as the “Camel Rider”, a pita filled with cold cuts from a fast food restaurant called The Sheik in Jacksonville, FL. And learning about ancient Japanese binchotan charcoal, introducing me to a new technique for charcoal grilling and then onto a discussion on the joy of fresh turmeric. 

The huge variety of topics, ingredients and techniques offered up ideas, concepts, or a vision as a starting point only. It is up to the attendee to take them home and make them their own, recreating new dishes along the way. 

Let the innovation begin!

July 18th, 2012

The Fancy Food Show

Posted in Food Shows

We enjoyed our trip to the Fancy Food Show in Washington DC.

One of my favorites, was surprisingly, a fermented tofu dish. I am not a big tofu fan, but Rau Om’s Tofu Misozuke is a wonderful meaty tasting spread for crackers. For the vegan palate, it is perfectly acceptable substitute for cheese. Even those carnivores out there, such as myself, can appreciate this tasty treat. The basic concept is that tofu is wrapped in Miso and allowed to ferment for two months. The product can last up to a month once fermented. It is high in sodium, but that is done as a preservation factor. The product is only available in California at this time, but you can purchase it on the website if you are outside their retail area. They also have a couple of other interesting items on their website that were not showcased at the show that are definitely worth checking out!

Another great product that Chef Allison and I were in agreement on were the spinach balls by The Spinach Ball company. They come in original, stuffed with feta, and stuffed with Monterey Jack. They are served with a side of dill dip. They are a very tasty product! Great flavor!

In the beverage category, Crio Bru is definitely a trendsetter. This is the first productof its kind to be manufactured in the US. It is a drink steeped from 100% cocoa beans. The beans are hand selected for minimal bitterness, sun dried, then roasted and milled. The product is 100% responsibly grown and ethically traded. The company uses wind power as the energy source in making Crio Bru. Each cup only has 10 calories, has one of the highest antioxidant amounts by weight, and has been designated Hearty Healthy by the AHA. Add some coconut milk to this delectable drink and you have a low-calorie version of hot chocolate. It is definitely a product to watch!!

Another interesting product is actually a Korean product by O’Jeju. It’s called O’Kimchi and it is a 100% natural Korean fermented Kimchi that has been dried. The package suggests to add it to Ramen, but I can see it being a great snack all on its own! Add it to rice, to broth, etc. Regardless, the whole package has 16 calories.

Annie Chun’s has two flavors of Savory roasted Korean seaweed that it showcased as new products. One is a brown sugar and sea salt product that is slightly sweet. The other flavor is racked pepper and herbs. Each serving has only 10 calories, so it’s a low-calorie, nutrition-packed snack.

Super fruits are making the rounds when it comes to trends, and one of my favorites at the show this year is Baobab. I had a sample of Baobab jam, and the statistics for this product are pretty amazing. According to data, 1g of baobab pulp has 10 times the antioxidant ability of oranges, and 4 times more potassium than bananas. It is a light colored jam, slightly tart. It tastes creamy with a tart citrus taste. A recent newcomer to the market, it has many functional characteristics as well.

In the sweets category are Cocomels, by JJ’s Sweets, the vegan’s answer to the caramel. They are made with coconut milk and are absolutely delicious. They come in 4 naked flavors (original, sea salt, vanilla, and java), and 4 covered in free trade organic chocolate (sea salt, vanilla, espresso, and chai spice). I sampled the naked original and sea salt, and I have to tell you, they were very tasty, with a great creamy coconut overtone.

Veggie Mama is a great entry into the kid’s 6-16 age bracket. Founder Theresa Fraijo started with a desire to feed her kids more vegetables and this is her take on veggie snacks. These are frozen pops made with 100% fruits and vegetables. I tried several flavors and my hands down favorite was the sweet potato pie flavor. It’s made with sweet potato, orange, coconut, vanilla and cinnamon. What a deliciously healthy idea!


And this last little gem is definitely a trend we are seeing in the eco-friendly category: it’s  a paper spoon that biodegrades in 3-10 weeks. It would be very handy as a tasting spoon in commercial kitchens as well as a great alternative for frozen treats!


Stay tuned for our blog on the IFT show, where we will showcase some amazing functional ingredients.


June 12th, 2012

National Restaurant Association 2012: Whet Your Appetite On The Latest Trends

Posted in Food Shows

We had a lot of fun walking the floor at the National Restaurant Association show from May 4th-6th of this year. Always on the lookout for the newest trends, the following products were some of our favorites:

1. The Cecilware OJ200

The Cecilware OJ200 booth was one of our first stops. It’s a pretty awesome gadget. You put whole oranges in the top, and it automatically feeds, then slices and squeezes oranges for fresh orange juice. It can process up to 22 oranges per minute, making it a very efficient countertop model. I think we   were just as enamored with the guy in the rolling orange, so we snapped his photo. From the look on his face I am not sure if he was all that pleased. Oh well.

2. The Cookshack Pellet-Fired Charbroiler

It uses compressed wood pellets in a lower smoker box that heats and smokes meats simultaneously. It offers consistent flavor, and has minimal ash cleanup. According to the company’s website, it reduces ash accumulation from 30% to 3%. It’s been on the market since 2009 and is Cookshack’s best seller. They also sell residential and commercial smokers. It’s definitely an interesting piece of kitchen technology.

3. Cups, cups, cups! 

There were all kinds of ready-made pastry cups that work perfectly with sweet and savory fillings. There were also lots of cones on sticks that would make for great chocolate applications. One booth had savory cups in flavors like curry and basil Parmesan. They were cute and looked like Asian soup spoons. One definite bonus is that you can eat the spoon for a great “green” alternative!

 4. White Harissa Paste

This was one of my favorite tastes at the show. It tastes nothing like regular harissa paste, and is the first product of its kind in the marketplace. It has a very apparent rich garlic taste underlying the rich spicy chili flavor. You can taste the sunshine in the jar! This would be a great addition to any bean dish or  it could be used to make a beautifully balanced vinaigrette.

5. Ginger Vinegar

 Talk about an unexpected flavor experience! This vinegar is not your average vinegar. Of course, we thought it was going to be a tart, acidic, possibly tangy vinegar. I think the term vinegar does this product an injustice. It is sweet and gingery with a hint of rice vinegar. Further research on the website confirms the product content. Our first instinct was that this would be amazing in a cocktail of some kind due to its truly unique nature. Get out your wallet for this one, though, a 8.45 oz bottle retails for 49.99! Makes me want to come up with my own version!

6. FOMZ Zero Gravity Fruit

Another product we found very interesting was at the Canada-based FDR booth. It is an aerosol based all natural product. It contains fresh fruit and pure cane sugar. It is a dairy-free, alcohol-free, low fat solution to whipped creams. It was designed with mixologists and pastry chefs in mind. My personal favorite was the passionfruit mango flavor. Wish I could have tried the mixed berry!

7. Pretzel-Based Products

One trend that we found in full force at the show was the plethora of pretzel-based products. Anything from jumbo pretzels, pretzel baguettes, and pretzel rolls to pretzel bites stuffed with cream cheese, or pretzels coated in all myriads of flavors.

This last set of pictures is just simply for fun.

These were on display at the Mazzetta Company booth. Who wouldn’t want to climb on board a “ShrimpMobile”? These weren’t just display bikes either, some lucky company bloke gets to ride around on them in their free time, or maybe they let potential customers take them for a spin! The company had a great booth, and these bikes were definitely memorable.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this overview of the NRA show! Check back soon for the next adventure in food trends!

Allison & Bridget

November 21st, 2011

Worlds of Innovation

Posted in Food Shows, Trailer/Street Foods

In early November, I attended the Worlds of Flavor conference at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA.  It is a premier event that always fills me full of inspiration and new ideas, and makes me want to travel the world!

This year’s theme was “American Menus”, yet there were top chefs from all over the world, both in attendance and as speakers. This shows how influential other cuisines are to our menus domestically and how the food world seems to get smaller and more interconnected every day.

 Of the many general themes I garnered from the event, here are a few of the main ideas that came across loud and clear that are sure to impact American menus in the near future.

  1. Home Cooked Meals
  2. Informal eating                                                                                
  3. Artisan, handmade, chef driven                                                            
  4. Ethnic infusion of flavors
  5. Luxury at a discount 
  6. Comfort food
  7. Simple, fresh, true flavors 
  8. Street food 

Home Cooked Meals This really doesn’t mean more people will be cooking at home, it does mean they want foods that remind them of home cooked meals from childhood.  Fine dining chefs are reverting back to the foods they grew up with, the dishes they learned to cook from their Mom or Grandma.  Chefs are examining their roots and culture more closely than ever before and recreating these dishes in new, exciting ways.  Chef Charles Phan of the famed Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco served an impeccable Fried Chicken with Sriracha Butter served in a paper cone that brought back great memories of home cooked chicken but with a surprising new flavor twist.

Informal Eating – This trend focuses on meals becoming more casual – communal tables in restaurants, picnics, food on the go; trailer/truck food and snacking all are great examples of this hot trend.  Ramen noodle bars exemplify this trend, a casual spot to have a delicious, filling, hot meal with friends that can be a quick eating adventure.

Artisan, Handmade, Chef Driven Processed foods are out, and even if it is manufactured, the food must look handmade to be considered authentic.  Artisan, hand tossed Napoli style pizza crusts are the perfect example of this trend that can easily be transferred into multi-unit restaurants.  Celebrity chefs are being asked to develop products for manufacturers, retail and for chain restaurants more and more, adding a culinary flair and notoriety to menus.

Ethnic Infusion – Great flavors are coming from other countries’ cuisine and can fit perfectly into well known American favorites to create new, innovative menu items.  Chermoula, Harissa, hummus, Achiote, ceviches, and many types of peppers (Aleppo, cascabel, piquillo, and guajillo to name a few) are all trendy ingredients that will get more attention on upcoming menus.  The opposite of ethnic infusion is ethnic CONFUSION, which while making an interesting show on menus, seems to be more of a fad than a lasting trend.  The flavors provide a WOW impact but don’t necessarily taste great.  Wasabi coated fried chicken sounds interesting, but would you crave it every week?  Ethnic fusion is nothing new. Wolfgang Puck is a master of this type of cuisine, but it must be done well AND taste great to endure.


Luxury at a Discount – The economy is still impacting food choices and this will not change anytime soon.  While there are signs of improvement, consumers are hesitant to spend extravagantly on meals as they once did.  Consumers still want a luxury dish, but they also want it at a great price.  Instead of an expensive dinner out, consumers are trading down to the same flavors served in smaller portions or in unique ways, such as food trucks, to get their fine dining fix in a completely different atmosphere.  Star Ginger, a mobile food truck on the campus of UC Davis in California, offers quality Southeast Asian food and fresh flavors in the form of rice bowls and sandwiches to patrons.  And all of this is at an affordable price while giving the customer a chance to try something new with a low investment.

Comfort Food – Sandwiches are in!  Baker Mark Furstenberg did a demonstration using a sourdough bread boule, cut and hollowed, slathered inside with white bean spread, stuffed with slow cooked lamb, caramelized onions and black olives.  The bread was then weighted down and baked.  After baking, the boule was sliced and served as a fork and knife sandwich eat, and it was amazing.  Great flavors, a hearty meal, and simple ingredients made this an ultimate comfort meal.  Joyce Goldstein also showcased a tuna salad sandwich at the same sandwich workshop, made with Moroccan Charmoula Mayonnaise that was simple, ethnic but familiar, and above all, delicious.

Simple, Fresh, True Flavors – Recipes do not need a long list of ingredients to be “inspired”. The old adage of “keep it simple stupid” applies here!  Select the best ingredients available, make sure they are vibrant and fresh, and cook them in a way to let the true flavors of the food shine through.   Chef Jose Garces made a basic empanada but added a twist by using cooked plantain dough instead of the traditional flour dough, filled with a scallion, garlic, and queso fresco cheese filling.  The combination created a tasty dish that was simple and amazing and also a great gluten-free choice.

Street Food – Perhaps inspired by Hawker food stalls in Singapore, which are Singapore’s “food trucks”, mobile food trucks are still on the rise in the USA.  In Singapore, big bowls of noodle soups, hot pepper crab, satays, grilled meats, quick to prepare/easy to eat meals are the norm, but domestically, the variety has taken off and the choices are staggering.  Anything from empanadas, dumplings, sushi, Indian biryani, pizza, BBQ, fried chicken and waffles to desserts like cupcakes, cake shakes, make your own s’mores and fried doughnuts can be found being dished out of food trucks in many cities.  There is plenty of inspiration that can be translated to everyday foods we already love. How about Bulgogi wings?

 At The Marketplace we could sample the delicacies and demonstrations that we saw during the day, and sponsors had a chance to show their take on the conference theme.  While sampling everything would have required an extra stomach or two, there were a few notable dishes worth mentioning.

Frito Lay served up walking Frito Pie variations that were innovative and definitely not something you’d find at the ballpark.  I tried the Sweet Cream, Salted Caramel and Amarena Cherry Tacos with Original Fritos Corn Chips.  Served in the bag  for a portable dish, I wasn’t sure the flavors were going to be harmonious, but they were well thought out and a great example of how sweet and savory can come together to create something unexpected. 

Shrimp & Cuttlefish with Black Rice Paella was another winner in my book; a very regional dish that was truly authentic, showing authenticity was NOT dead!  Topped with a foamy whipped egg white and green garlic topping, this paella was bursting with flavor and satisfied the comfort food need perfectly without being heavy. 

Chef Newman Miller of Quantum Foods made a puff pastry stuffed with braised beef ribs and Stilton blue cheese, showcasing simple and delicious can go hand in hand. 

Just to show that foie gras is always in style, another chef created a corn masa tamale wrapped banana leaf, steamed and then topped with a slab of seared foie gras.  Watching the preparation, my mouth watered and even though it wasn’t traditional, it looked delicious! 

 Much inspiration was gathered at this event, and now I am ready to translate this inspiration into innovative new dishes in the kitchen. I hope it has also sparked your imagination or at least made your mouth water and your taste buds long to sample a few of these flavors!

 Happy Eating,

 Chef Allison

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September 20th, 2011

Worlds of New Experiences

Posted in About Allison, Food Shows, Trailer/Street Foods

Worlds of New Experiences

What do you know about halo-halo? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably never heard of it, or know anything about it. Have you ever tried chocolate-covered potato chips? You’ve got to be kidding me, right? Next you’ll tell me Milli Vanilli was really a singer, or Bigfoot is real. The Culinary Culture team was lucky enough to travel to some very interesting and informative food shows recently. First, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show in Chicago, and next the Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C. We walk the shows to check out the newest trends, see what trends seem be dying out, and do our best to speculate about what might be next!

The National Restaurant Association show is one of the biggest and most diverse food shows in the world. Companies from all across the globe flock to Chicago to show off their latest and greatest, whether it may be a new food item, cooking utensil or product, or services they can provide to restaurants and restaurateurs. During this time, the city runs amok with foodies looking to unearth new restaurants, try their old favorites, and take up recommendations from friends. Before heading to the show, we headed over to a spot we had wanted to try since we originally talked about going to the show months before, XOCO, run by Chef Rick Bayless. Stay tuned to the next blog for our thoughts on this authentic Mexican street food themed restaurant and some great photos that will definitely make your mouth water.

As we mentioned months ago on Dish Bliss, street food and food trucks are quickly on the rise throughout the United States, and this trend was overtly on display at NRA. Companies selling food trucks were brightly displayed, and attendees were able to go in and check out the food trucks first-hand, test the equipment and see how it functions. Other companies were selling food truck franchises from globally inspired food to start-up pizza trucks. Another interesting trend taking off right now is gourmet beverages, which come in all shapes, sizes, flavors and varieties. Specialty teas, ginger ale with real minced ginger, sparkling beverages crafted by celebrity chefs made with real fruit juices and organic tea are just the tip of the iceberg. How does an ice-cold pomegranate-black currant sparkling soda on the patio on a hot summer day sound? I thought so. Other interesting beverage developments are cute individually sized bottled cocktails with equally cute names such as Strawberry Sunshine Martini and Downtown Cranberry Cosmo, and water infused with fulvic acid, which helps the body to rapidly absorb the drink’s nearly eighty minerals, and oh, the fulvic acid just happens to turn this water black. All the innovations in beverages seem to focus on gourmet flavors, convenience of delivery, or healthy benefits associated with the drinks.

Along with these interesting food and beverage creations, are similarly innovative ways to consume them. The classic Bloody Mary just got a little bit better, with a company that developed a beef straw. That’s right, a straw made out of beef jerky. Remember when you would drink soda through a licorice straw when you were a kid? Now you can drink your adult beverage through an edible beef jerky straw. If you’re not of drinking age yet, don’t fret, we’ve found milk straws for you. These neat little straws are plastic but as the milk is drawn through them, the flavor beads inside the straw slowly dissolve and turn your milk into chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, or cookies and cream flavored milk. Another novelty I happened upon was edible utensils. Small spoons with flat bottoms that sit with their convenient handle facing you come in varieties such as corn lime, Parmesan black pepper, and coconut curry.

Coconut is also used as a key ingredient in almond rice pops. These tasty snacks are gluten free, vegan and trans fat free, and flavor options include blueberry, strawberry, mango or cranberry. The chocolate-covered potato chips however, aren’t quite as healthy. These are the ultimate indulgence for lovers of the sweet and salty combination. Banana bread crackers, cranberry-orange and chocolate loaf crackers make for great healthy dipping snacks, and gourmet candy bars range from white chocolate truffle with lemon candy pieces to milk chocolate with graham cracker and marshmallows and all the way to milk chocolate truffle bars with confetti cake centers. After sampling and walking a show like this, it’s usually time to hit the gym, or the sack.

The Fancy Food show in D.C. has some interesting things to see as well. While you may see some of the same vendors as the NRA show, this show is geared more towards specialty and gourmet food products. Much like the NRA show, vendors come from all over the world to showcase their best products.

Some interesting finds include wine flavored ice cream such as Red Raspberry Chardonnay, Chocolate Cabernet and Cherry Merlot, which are certainly worth a try, as well as the Wine-a-Rita booth, a convenient product that combines margaritas with your choice of wine, with enough variety to please even the most discerning critics.

After the wine, I ran across waffles flavored with vanilla, Belgian chocolate and maple cinnamon. Next, premium ice cream in flavors such as Thai tea, red beans, ube, mango, lychee, coconut and halo halo, a Filipino fruit and bean mix made with coconut and jackfruit, among other things, from a small company specializing in quality ice creams and dessert bars.

These shows are also a showcase for other smaller companies trying to get their brand out to the masses. Take La Quercia of Norwalk, Iowa for example. They produce some great hand-made artisanal meats made with just pork, sea salt and spices, with no nitrites, nitrates, or any other substitutes. They were the first domestic producer of prosciutto in the United States and their careful attention to quality and their craft shine through in their incredible products.

Convenience, quality, local, expanding unique flavors and ethnic ingredients were very evident at the food shows as the major themes. Items such as a “coil” retail pizza made of stuffed phyllo dough offered gourmet filled pizza with an upscale presentation and at the opposite end, a great s’mores kit brought together nostalgia and comfort foods, all in a convenient one stop package.

As you can tell, these food shows are a great place for inspiration and to catch new trends early on. Every year we see many new and interesting products and flavors that spark ideas for us to take to the kitchen. We hope some of the products we described do the same for you!


May 12th, 2011

RCA Tradeshow Highlights

Posted in About Allison, Food Shows

When I first attended the Research Chefs Association show, it was a moment where I had the opportunity to finally meet other chefs in non-traditional roles and share our experiences and tribulations.  Even with the small number of people in attendance that first year, I left invigorated and inspired about a new network of colleagues I could use as a new found resource.  Almost 15 years later, I am happy to say the conference still provides the same experience, only on a much larger scale as attendance is now in the thousands. Read more »