Saturday, April 04, 2009

A Review of the NYC Restaurant Show (03/09)

Exhibitors from all around the world stake out their spots at the Jacob Javits Convention Center to present the latest and greatest food-stuffs of 2009. The main draw of the show is to taste different cuisines, learn about new products and test machinery that food service can use in their kitchens.

Being hungry and having room in one's belly is a bad idea before attending this event, mainly because a few nibbles over the course of one hour can add up to a whole day's worth of calories if you're not careful. I had the luxury of being in a food coma, complete with blurry vision and the onset of hypochondriacal diabetes; however, I was lucky to remain lucid enough throughout the day in order to learn about some new foods that will be presented in the restaurants this year.

Some sushi places will now begin using soy paper instead of seaweed nori to wrap up their sushi. The soy papers come in an array of colors and flavors, including hot spicy pink and squash yellow. For me, this takes away from the tradition of having black seaweed surrounding sushi, but I suppose restaurants will apply the new seaweed fad accordingly. Some other interesting delights I found were "Japanese foie gras of the sea" (Ankimo), "100% all-natural certified organic fro-yo" by a company called "The Lite Choice" (organic and fro-yo should be banned from sharing room in the same sentence) and "Energy-multigrain bagels" that tout themselves for its high fiber (high fiber because the bagel's the size of your head!)

One of the major highlights of the day included an impromptu talk with Chuck Hunt, the executive vice president of the New York City chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association. Since day one, he has always been against the caloric labeling on menus in restaurants of over 10-15 chains. Me being a proponent of them, we seemed to get into a heated academic debate about the issue, all while tasting sliced cheese and chicken-sticks.

Vendors presented their products with elaborate displays and demos. I tried the "Ergo Chef" heavy-duty knife, whose blade conjured flashbacks of an unfortunate skin-chopping incident. "It's the new shape of cutlery," the seller declared. If I don't cut my fingers off, then I'll consider this new shape, I thought.

Parched from the additives, high-fat and salty items, I searched for water. Vendors, vendors everywhere but not a drop to drink... Until the NYC Local Tap Water booth presented itself way back toward the left of the room. I pounced on it like a traveler in the desert. I had reached water-jug Mecca, and I was not leaving until satisfied.

Sake and wine stands couldn't lure me at that point but I witnessed a major tasting party in the southeast corner and thought about the aftermath of stumbling out of the Javits at 12PM. That wasn't enticing to me.

A fork of oyster and a spoonful of dip later, I left the madness of food service advertising and welcomed back my bland world of eggs and oats.

For more information about the Restaurant Show, visit their website.

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