I’m so excited that one of my favorite events each year, the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, is here in Los Angeles again this summer! (In recent times, it’s been skipping a year.)

I think you all know that even though I don’t review solely restaurants anymore, I still like to keep up with what’s happening with them, in all aspects. And the Western Expo is definitely the place to learn what’s happening with California eateries, (and beyond!)

normal_wfhe-logoIt’s always so fun, and successful for everyone who participates, on any level.  And, as promised in my preview of last year’s event, I’m sharing the highlights of my discoveries at the 2015 Expo, so that you’ll have an idea of what to look for at this 2016 version. (And also at your city’s restaurants!)

Before I tell you about all that, though, I want to share a remembrance of how I participated more than usual last year.

On the first two days, I was a judge for a new event with the fun moniker, “Pitch the Press.”  It wasn’t a contest, per se.  This is how it worked: On the first day, each of us four press panel members chose several companies we deemed to be special.  We nominated them to the fabulous Amy Riemer, who coordinates all the press, and together, we narrowed it down to about fifteen companies.  Then, on the second day, their reps got to pitch their wares to the entire panel.  It was a fabulous opportunity for them, and for us, as well, because we learned about new products and companies.  I was proud to be a part of it!  [And here’s an interesting note–none of the quartet of us chose the same items!  That was perchance due to the fact that the expo is always so massive!]

The entire event was even a bit more wonderful than it had been in recent years, maybe due to some new special aspects to it.  One of my favorite parts was that the California Restaurant Association had the equivalent of a VIP Room right in the middle of the convention floor!   If you restaurateurs ever needed another reason to join the association, that would be it!  They not only had a wonderfully comfortable area to sit in comfort and privacy, they also had several snacks and beverages, a few little gifts, and best of all–a private masseuse doing chair massages!!!  What luxury in there!

event_cover_wfhe-2014My associates and I really enjoyed meeting just about everyone at the Expo, and learning about all the different aspects that go into owning and running a successful eatery.  It’s astonishing!  A vegan pal of mine is opening a wellness center in Los Angeles, and she was thrilled with all the vendors she found there.  It’s definitely eye-opening, on so many levels.

While I appreciated just about everyone I met and every product I discovered there, I, of course, did have some highlights last year.  Here they are:

Gelati Celesti–Not all gelatos are created equally, and this brand, from our very own South Bay, is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.  It’s so rich that I can’t even eat more than a small serving at a time!  It’s so delicious, and their booth was constantly surrounded at the show.

Upper Crust–This brand was chosen by none other than the makers of Nutella to partner with.  I seriously couldn’t get enough of their beignet-type puffs filled with the substance, although my pals enjoyed their chocolate or sugar cookies filled with the same.  Yu-um!!!

Karoun–This dairy featured enough products to keep us trying a different one each day for a couple of months, but my favorite was their grilling cheese.  If you heat that wonderful substance on the grill, you don’t even need the bread to make a grilled cheese sandwich!

O Olive Oil–My co-judges actually introduced me to this company, who not only made superior olive oils for all occasions, but they also manufacture individual packs for travel and such!

Coconut Bliss–My vegan pal found this one for me.  I thought it was real ice cream, and I went nuts over its creaminess!  But then she told me it’s dairy-free, sugar-free, and gluten–free.  But it’s definitely not flavor-free!!!  OMG!

I can’t wait to see what I discover there this year! I hope to see all members of the industry at this year’s expo, which will be happening on August 28-30. It’s really a “don’t miss” event. For the official info on it, please check-out their site, here: www.westernfoodexpo.com



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