Attending conferences are both fun and beneficial from both a consumer’s and professional’s perspective. Luckily, I was able to attend The International Restaurant and Foodservice Show as both! I’m going to walk you through my walk-through of the conference: my assistant experience with Janet Davis of JADE Jamaican Grill, my favorite food features, and some helpful tips in order to maximize your food show/conference experience.
I attended the Show first and foremost as an assistant to Janet Davis. She is CEO and Executive Chef at JADE Jamaican Grill. Her philosophy and mantra is Full on Flavor! A vivacious and passionate spirit, Janet attended the Show as a guest speaker for her segment, “Cultivating Sales Through Catering”. During this time, I helped Janet set up her conference room, and listened attentively to the content of her presentation while taking pictures. Janet spoke about “not leaving any money on the table”; how to maximize a restaurant owner’s business by tapping into catering. The audience was engaged and eager to ask questions. I spoke with several restaurateurs at the end while breaking down the media table, and then filtered into the crowd for the Show.
I waltzed around the Show floor from left to right racking up the casualties of cheese from creamy soft to pungent bleu (R.I.P. to all of those brave cubes that sacrificed their lives to be savored by my taste buds). I made my way over to the adult section for some beer and wine samples. The one wine that stood out to me was Bossy Boots. Reasonably priced, and full of flavor, Bossy Boots definitely left an impression on me. What was nice about the wine too, (I had the Riesling, Rosé, and Cabernet Sauvignon) was that it was on the sweeter side, but not syrupy sweet like other wines of their profile. It was like the refined version of Barefoot.
Venturing back into the rest of the floor, (the alcoholic tables were all sectioned off) I began to wait on a line that wrapped around an entire corner of the Show floor for smoked salmon. Honey Smoked Fish Company prides itself on being a superfood packed with natural fish oil and protein. The salmon can be eaten on its own, but the company urges its consumers to use it as an ingredient in any homemade recipe. Owner Kevin Mason was feeding the crowd with his energetic spirit and smoked salmon samples. I was blown out of the water by the quality. All three flavors- Original, Cajun, and Chipotle & Lime- melted onto my taste buds from the smokey sensation.
While climbing the culinary trail back to the right hand side, I noticed a man with a giant chicken wing for a hat, his chef jacket stained with a plethora of golden awards. This definitely peaked my curiosity. Sean’s Booyah Sauce has won 245 national awards, and my heart. Sean won me over with his confidence, outgoing personality, and attentiveness. He called me by name as he dipped the sampling spoon in his concoctions for me personally, and instructed me on how to properly dive into the flavor explosion. I did as was told, and immediately felt the rush of flavor from my [now] favorite sauce, The Maple Habo Wabo. The maple was intense, and the sauce had an excellent balance of sweet and heat. I almost started to tear up out of joy. Sean encouraged me to bellow out a “Booyah!”, and I complied eagerly.
I glanced to my right, and gasped in delight. My favorite Hudson Valley liquor company was at the show! Tuthilltown Spirits always warms my insides, but literally and figuratively. The quality is consistent and genuine. I’m a whiskey drinker first and foremost, so my favorite bottle is their Baby Bourbon, a beautiful amber-colored corn whiskey with finishes of marzipan and roasted corn. They have different varieties of boubon, as well as other distinctions of liquor. You can even escape to the Hudson Valley for a day and take a tour of the distillery.
The last stop on my tour was Red Jacket for some apple cider and lemonade. What I loved was that they don’t dilute their products with any added sugar, water, or concentrates- just pure taste. Their lemonade was by far my favorite- it was sweetened with apples! They even let me take home a sample bottle.
The International Restaurant and Foodservice Show was a beneficial and fun experience. I’m so excited to support these companies, and get my hands on more of their tasty products. Booyah!