The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo hosted its final day Aug. 29 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where it featured hundreds of exhibitors, an educational program and cooking demonstrations, among other events. Highlights of the trade show and conference, sponsored by the California Restaurant Association (CRA), included:
- How to Easily Survive Increasing Minimum Wage and Food Costs. Darren Denington, founder of Service with Style Hospitality Group, and David Scott Peters, founder of com, presented a step-by-step restaurant success seminar for greater profits and a stronger management team.
- Pitch the Press. One hour of presentations by a specially selected group of new products, services and trends. Each presenter was given the opportunity to pitch for two minutes, followed by a 1-minute Q&A for press and buyers.
- Culinary Demonstration by Jenny Ross, Chef/Author/Wellness Educator. The demonstration featured a tasting of Lime Coconut and Jackfruit Nachos with Chipotle Cheese and Citrus Snow. It was followed by the sale and signing of “Raw and Living Foods Cookbook.”
- Food Styling Demonstration by Denise Vivaldo, Chef/Culinary Consultant/Author on the Center Stage: Vivaldo’s presentation featured “9 Tips for Perfecting Your Social Media Pictures.”
- New Product Showcase Awards: Attendees had the chance to vote on their favorite new products throughout the show. Awards were presented by show management to the winning companies.
- Culinary Demonstration by Dakota Weiss, Executive Chef and Partner, Sweetfin Poke.
Expo hosts CRA’s annual Culinary Clash
The show also featured the CRA’s sixth annual Culinary Clash, a fundraising event to benefit the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF). The battle was held on August 27 in conjunction with the Expo.
Culinary teams—comprised of a restaurant executive, a corporate chef and a ProStart high school student—had 30 minutes and two butane burners to create an amuse bouche and an entrée.
New this year was the inaugural Cocktail Clash. Teams had 5 minutes to create a cocktail using Jose Cuervo and a Coca-Cola juice or mixer, a nod to the event’s sponsors. Points were awarded for innovation, complexity, garnish and overall taste. The first ever Jose Cuervo Golden Goblet was awarded to Lawry’s Prime Rib.
The Golden Glove, the event’s highest culinary honor, was awarded to Urban Plates Thanksgiving Sushi Roll—layered ground turkey, sautéed beets, sweet potato and homemade stuffing.
Bragging rights and the biggest trophy once again went to team Black Bear Diner, who clenched The Purse for the third year in a row. The Purse is awarded to the team that raises the most money for high school culinary arts programs in an online fundraiser.
Real Mex Restaurants and their brands—El Torito, Chevy’s, Acapulco and Las Brisas—dished out Mexican food, including ceviche rojo, Hamachi sashimi, tacos al pastor and handmade guacamole.
All categories and winners:
- Golden Glove: Urban Plates
- Coca-Cola Champ: Lawry’s Prime Rib
- Foster Farms Turkey Champ: Specialty Restaurants Corp.
- Ecolab Champ: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Hard Rock Cafe
- KitchenAid Commercial Champ: Hard Rock Cafe
- Team Spirit: Hard Rock Cafe
- People’s Choice: Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center
- Best Bite: Urban Plates
- Golden Plate: Lawry’s Prime Rib
- FreshPoint Secret Ingredient Champ: Specialty Restaurants Corp.
- Jose Cuervo Golden Goblet: Lawry’s Prime Rib
- Coca-Cola Champ: Coasterra
- Best Garnish: Lazy Dog
- The Craftiest: Lawry’s Prime Rib
“What an experience for our students! They cooked side by side with incredible chefs from world-famous restaurant brands,” said Alycia Harshfield, executive director of CRAF. “We are tremendously grateful for the support of the teams, sponsors and volunteers who made it all possible.”
Proceeds from the event support culinary arts education in California through fieldtrips, demos, classroom equipment, job-readiness training and more. More than 9,000 students benefit from CRAF’s ProStart program in the state.
The 2017 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo is produced and managed by Urban Expositions.