Food & Food Equipment News' sister publication Restaurant Daily News' editor is just back from Los Angeles for a two-day visit to the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, which has just been acquired by Urban Expositions. The transaction is in its early days yet, so it's still too soon to see anything new as a result, but we'll all be looking forward to seeing how the new owners are going to bring the show back to life after a couple of years of doldrums. Next year's show is scheduled to return to the Anaheim Convention Center, but everyone I talked to was glad to have it back in the Los Angeles Convention Center this year.
Harry Meijer at Dewey Pest Control was all smiles and getting great traffic at his booth, which he attributed to this year's Los Angeles location. He and his associates were there to talk with the restaurateurs in attendance about pest control services for commercial establishments throughout California. With 32 branch offices around the state, Dewey Pest Control well-positioned to provide service no matter where you are in California.
Just down the aisle, Envirotub was talking about how to migrate from an outdoor oil storage system into a clean portable indoor system that reduces theft and improves safety because you can take the grease tub to the fryer. If you weren't there to see them at the show, you can catch up with them at next year's NRA Show, or of course, you can visit them now at www.envirotub.com.
Conway Dressing for Salads was at the show with a whole table full of samples. What's special about this company is the company’s ability to custom-produce salad dressing for end users only. With more than 300 active recipes, the company has a lot of experience developing dressings and sauces to enhance your restaurant’s reputation for unique flavors. John T. Bosslet, National Sales Manager for the company, was there at the booth and said that he'll be thrilled to take calls when he gets back in the office. You can reach him at 800.323.8801 or visit www.conwaydressings.com.
Baker Commodities was drawing a lot of interest for its collection and recycling programs for used cooking oil. The company services restaurants across the country, and although the representatives on hand at the show were too busy talking to prospective customers to have a lot of time for a reporter, I was told that they were talking with folks about total grease management programs, all the way to pressure washing and grease trap cleaning.
And of course, one of the great pleasures of visiting a restaurant show is that you get to sample some great food, and at the Sun Rich Foods booth, I met company President Wally Barakat, who was behind a counter-top griddle and serving up hot potato pancakes for a crowd that was taking them as fast he could pull them off his mini-flattop. That didn't stop him from chatting while he served. The potato pancake batter is made from fresh potatoes, sauteed onions, milk, cream, pasteurized eggs and then frozen into a ready-to-go batter that comes to restaurants in a plastic tub so it’s easy to use. “People love it. It can be used as a breakfast item or as an accompaniment to fish, and it’s great for Hanukkah and Oktoberfest, any of those events at which it’s traditional to serve potato pancakes,” he says.
But wait, there's more! “We have some very innovative and upscale breakfast items as well as some entrée, center of the plate items,” Barakat says.
The company makes the mix for crepes for cheese blintzes as well as the creamy cheese that goes inside them. With four cheese and real vanilla, the filling can also be used as a dessert topping or in stuffed French toast. “It’s really good.” Walnut-almond multigrain pancake mix is so good that the California Almond Board is excited about its potential to showcase almonds in products for which people aren’t already used to seeing them, he said.
I took a potato pancake and turned away from the griddle for a minute, thinking I'd bite into it while we continued to talk, but there was another woman right behind me with her hands stretched out too. I handed off the goodie and turned back, and Mr. Barakat took that opportunity to tell me a little more about his product line.
“We’re also a USDA manufacturer, so we also have a lot of meat products, including meat loaf, chili, chicken and turkey pot pie, pot roast and roast pork,” Barakat says. “As we’re going into the fall, the pot pies are very popular.” If you have some time to talk about your need for products that'll help you turn out down-home comfort food, give him a call at 714.632.7577.
So there you are, a sampling of good things from the floor at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo. If you're looking for some information about a few of the gourmet items that were there in abundance, you'll find that in next week's Gourmet Newswire, the weekly emailer from the editors of Gourmet News, another of the Oser Communications Group family of publications. You can sign up to have that come to your email in-box every Tuesday morning by visiting www.gourmetnews.com and hitting the subscribe button to let us know that you want the electronic version of the magazine. Or if you'd rather get the news items one by one as they're available, you can visit the Newswire's blog site at www.GourmetNewsENews.wordpress.com and submit your email address to follow the blog.