Parties, panels, demos! Even before the show opened, there was entertainment at the opening reception. A medley of songs from “Les Miserables” was presented with the lyrics rewritten as a paean to Fancy Food. For the big finish, a checked tablecloth waved overhead in lieu of the Tricolor.
There was a lot to see and do off the show floor. One interesting synergy: a panel called “Chop, Chat and Charm,” with three very public chefs: Sara Moulton, Kelsey Nixon, and Roger Mooking, talking about the chef as performer; then, a little later the same day, Sara put advice into practice with an actual cooking demo.
It was fascinating to see her enact some of the principles she mentioned in the panel: tell a story; know your audience; ask questions as well as answer them; recruit an audience member to help; have samples and giveaways. And, if you’re on TV, smile all the time!
The Italian Trade Commission sponsored a panel called “Find The Fake,” a tasting designed to educate participants in detecting fake olive oil. This is a growing problem around the world, and the Italians, with more olive trees than any other country, are understandably concerned.
There were two representatives of UNAPROL (Italian National Union of Olive Oil Growers Association), and Bill Marsano, a veteran food and travel writer, on the panel. After they extolled the virtues of Italian oil, we were led in a guided tasting of four samples, three real olive oils and one fake. Then we were rewarded with bottles of the real thing!
There were several off-site parties all on the same day, so we had to make a choice. We went with the Buyer’s Best Friend party at Vermilion Restaurant. There, we met folks from Gelato Fiasco, a company with two stores in Maine selling excellent Italian-style gelato. They also ship pints south, to be sold in grocery stores near us. Life is good!
Buyer’s Best Friend is a wholesaler that gives small, artisanal businesses a chance to be distributed in larger markets. They are always one of the friendliest places on the show floor, and I totally approve of their business objectives. And they throw a great party, too!
I got an arty shot of part of the New Product Display, one of the highlights of the show.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Product Spotlight