One of my favorite events of any year, the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, will finally be here in Los Angeles this week-end, at the LA Convention Center downtown. And I cannot wait!

Just one of the crazy fun sights you'll see at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo!   Photo by Karen Salkin.

Just one of the crazy fun sights you’ll see at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo! Photo by Karen Salkin.

I’ve been attending it for a couple of decades now, (really,) and it’s the one event I won’t miss. I went to it two years ago despite just breaking my ribs; four years ago the day before my first hand surgery (when I couldn’t even use either hand!); and have come back early from, or postponed, travels for it. It’s that fun, and important, of an Expo.

Even though I don’t review restaurants exclusively anymore, I still like to keep up with what’s happening with them, in all aspects. And the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo is definitely the place to learn about all the innovations in those worlds. (And, really—who’s more hospitable than I? Haven’t met them!)

This event is both fun and educational, but most of the participants, on every level, often tell me it’s a success for them.  I always discover wonderful items, in not just the edible category, but in every area of the food and hospitality industry, so I’m really looking forward to what this year’s expo will bring. (One year, I brought a young chef pal with me, and he was amazed by the cutlery choices!)

The CRA "respite room," as I call it.  Photo by Karen Salkin.

The CRA “respite room,” as I call it. Photo by Karen Salkin.

One of my favorite parts of the show is the California Restaurant Association’s “VIP Room” right in the middle of the convention floor!  If you Cali restaurateurs ever needed another reason to join the association, this would be it!  They always have a wonderfully comfortable area for their members to take a break from working, and just relax in comfort and privacy. The area features snacks, beverages, and even a few little gifts. But the best perk in the past few years is that they have a masseuse doing chair massages!  And trust me—every person in attendance is grateful for that wonderfulness.

I think this year’s Expo just may be the best one ever. That’s because there are so many new special attractions this time. Here are a few of them:

1) Since August is National Sandwich Month, (who knew?,) the theme of the Rapid Fire Challenge will be—guess what?–sandwiches! Three chefs will face off in that category on Monday. I just hope that some of them will be on whole wheat bread, so I can sample them! (The sandwiches, not the chefs, of course,)

2) Keeping with the “what Karen can eat” theme, there will also be a “Healthy Pavilion.” (Do you think I should let those organizers know that the correct word is “healthful,” not “healthy?” The latter is what people are, and the former is what foods and lifestyle are. Maybe they’ll read this and correct it themselves for next year’s Expo. Fingers crossed.) I’m pretty sure that the group who’s bringing the Pavilion to us used to publish a book that I promoted on my television show many years ago, so I’m glad to see them still helping health-conscious diners, such as moi.

Curtis Stone.

Curtis Stone.

3) Then we have the sixth annual Culinary and Cocktail Clash, which will take place on Sunday. It’s an event that will bring together teams from several restaurants “to battle it out in the ultimate show of skill and mettle.” That sounds like a food fight to me!!!

4) Perhaps best of all is that on Monday, Curtis Stone is being honored with the Torch Award, which was created to “honor talented chefs for the purity of their knowledge, the clarity of their vision, and the brilliance of their careers.” I have to admit that I’ve never eaten at any of his restaurants, but I’m glad he’s getting this award because of his gorgeous face, charming personality, and oh that Aussie accent! (You all do remember that I’m shallow, right?)

Those are just a few of the reasons I’m looking so forward to this year’s Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo. I hope to see every member of the California restaurant industry there, on August 27-29, 2017. I consider it to be a “don’t miss” event.

For the official info on it, please check-out their site, here: www.westernfoodexpo.com


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