The Restaurant Show 2019:
I took time out of my walking project to take a detour to the Javis Center to the Annual New York Restaurant Show. I try to keep up with the latest trends in what kitchen equipment is new and innovative, how computers and apps are changing the way we order and have food delivered and new food stuffs that will be gracing the tables of banquet halls and restaurants not just in New York City but all over the country. What scares me the most of the Hospitality industry is how some people in the industry are trying to take the hospitality out of it by computerizing everything to the point where you don’t see people anymore.
By walking the entire show, I saw more things that will improve the industry and more money saving items will make cooking easier and better in design and sanitation. One of the best items that I saw in new kitchen equipment was the The Self Cooking Center by Rational USA from Rolling Meadows, Illinois. This oven does it all. With the combinations of heat and steam in one single appliance, it offers new possibilities when it comes to the professional preparation of food (Rationalusa.com (888)-320-7274).
The machine was interesting in that it could cook multiple items perfectly with just the touch of a button. Each of the cabinets were cooking something different. One time I stopped by the display they were cooking a pizza and another time they were cooking and cutting a roast. Each item was cooked perfectly and the unit looked like it was easy to clean.
The Food Section of the show has grown this year. About five years ago, the show had cut back on the number of food merchants and companies that carried lines for commercial restaurants. I guess they felt that people were eating their way through the show and just wanted lunch which is further from the truth. I think the restaurant food companies have a big place in the show as you are seeing the equipment, the computer programs and the merchandising. Now how do you tie the actual product into all that? By having the equipment not just cook the food but what types of foods for a commercial kitchen can be offered.
There were many commercial restaurant vendors at the show this time around and it was such a success with the customers walking the show, I am sure this area will get bigger again as more vendors know this is open to them. The visiting participants seemed to enjoy it and it got a lot of buzz amongst the buyers.
It seems that Brooklyn, NY is quickly becoming a hot-bed for new food start-ups and incubators. One vendor that I sampled were Brooklyn Patisserie (19 Fifth Street, Brooklyn, NY 718-852-1768) had the most delicious croissants and cinnamon danishes that I had sampled. They were light, buttery and had a wonderful sweetness to them.
Desserts on Brooklyn Patesserie
Another area vendor that I sampled was Brooklyn Cured (www.brooklyncured.com Brooklyn, NY 917-282-2221) for deli meats and salami. I sampled both their pastrami and their maple bourbon ham both of which had a nice smoky taste to them. The ham had a hint of sweetness due to the maple syrup flavoring the meat. Another Brooklyn vendor was selling Middle Eastern Hors D’Oeuvres that were filled with meats and spinach. Rose Gourmet (1677 McDonald Avenue (718) 382-1226) had an interesting cheese filled puff pastry called a Burekas that had a nice bite to it and these savory tidbits were very popular with show goers.
A further standout from Brooklyn was Table 87 for their flash frozen coal oven pizzas (table87.com). They provide the whole package to the customer in way of the freezer, the oven, trays, cutter and the pizzas. The whole concept is sold to the restaurant. The pizzas are really of high quality and the tomato sauce, which I always think is the base of the pizza tasted of real tomatoes.
There were many options to choose from with high quality Asian products at the show. Walong Marketing Inc. http://www.AsianFoodsOnline.com (877-675-8899) offered many different vendors at the show. Some of these were dumplings that had been steamed and fried for sampling at the show. They had a wonderful mixture of ground pork and spices.
Walong Marketing Inc.
Another was Mochidoki (email@example.com (212) 684-0991) Mochi ice cream bites.
These sweet little desserts have a sweet rice flour wrapped on the outside and a delicious ice cream in the center. Two of them I was able to sample were the vanilla and mango.
That was when I was able to get near the display as it was a very popular vendor at the show. TMI Trading Company (firstname.lastname@example.org (718-386-6868) was sampling Lo Mein noodles by Twin Marquis, that were tender and flavorful and adhered to the sauce they served with them.
TMI Trading Inc. lines
The ever popular Chef One also represented by TMI Trading Company was sampling dumplings and spring rolls that were steamed and fried and had a nice flavor with every bite.
Their representative told me that the cost factor for these popular items was very fair and were extremely popular in non-Asian restaurants and bars. The company’s dumplings never last that long when they are displayed for sampling.
Chef One Dumplings
The show offered some interesting items in the Beverage area. Tractor Beverage Company (DrinkTractor.com) had some interesting non-carbonated and carbonated sodas and teas. The one that stood out to me was the Blood Orange Soda that had a nice hint of the fruit and a light flavor. There is a big difference in the all natural sodas and the ones that are artificially flavored and you could taste the difference. Plus these sodas are usually lighter in color.
Tractor Beverage Company
Another beverage vendor that stood out was Fruit-n-Ice (Kanawati Enterprises 249 Lodi Street Hackensack, NJ 07601 (866) 265-9569), who sells the complete package of mixes and machines for a retail spot.
The mixes come in many fruit flavors that are mixed with ice, almost like a Slushy that you might get at a 7-11 but higher quality. I sampled both the Passion Fruit and Mango and both were quite good. The appearance of the machine makes a colorful statement and the quality was very good. I visited them again in 2020 and the quality of their product is wonderful.
There were some stand out desserts at the show that were interesting. A few that stood out were Little Red Kitchen’s (email@example.com (347) 815-4824) Blondies and Brownies that were being sampled. They were rich, dense and rich in flavor.
Little Red Kitchen
Outrageous Baking (www.outrageousBaking.com (303) 449-4632) was sampling the most moist and flavorful Cinnamon Coffee Cake, You could the buttery taste and cinnamon in every bite.
Outrageous Baking Company
Two unusual desserts I sampled were a Fruta Pop (www.frutapop.com) which makes a gourmet alcohol infused popsicles that were the perfect adult dessert. They were sweet, fruity and you could get a slight buzz from the pop. These were delicious as they had almost a fizzy mouthfeel to them. They are the perfect dessert for after a barbecue or dinner party. I sampled them again in new flavors in 2020.
Another delicious dessert was the Stroop Club (chantal@stroopclub (512) 400-8906) Stroopwafels, a Dutch dessert treat. These buttery delights are a light waffle like cookie filled with a sweet glaze that tastes like a cross between maple syrup and cinnamon. These little cookies are perfect with coffee or hot chocolate.
Two breakfast vendors sampling at the Restaurant Show stood out amongst the others. New Hope Mills (181 York Street Auburn, NY 13021 (315) 252-2676) has the most delicious waffle mix that produces the lightest waffles. They were being made fresh at the show and with a little maple syrup make the perfect breakfast. Bosquet (bosquetgourmet.com) makes a gluten Buttermilk Waffle mix that is also very light and you would never know the waffles were gluten free.
New Hope Mills Company Pancake Mix
Bosquet Gourmet Pancake & Waffle Mix
Another product that I thought was unique and stood out was the Gourmet Fries Seasoning by Chef’s Fun Foods (www.ChefsFunFoods.com (977) 233-3007). The vendor deep fried French Fries and doused them with seasoning, giving each bite the spicy flavor of tomato ketchup or garlic salt. It is a nice spin on not using salt.
Chef’s Fun Foods Seasonings
Another group of vendors that was interesting was the computer and tech companies stream lining how we order, budget and cost out recipes. The technology has changed so much in the last twenty years that we can now tie in building a recipe, costing it out, build in the retail cost and connect it to cooking it and setting up the inventory of the ingredients. So when you cook the dish, it is already setting up the inventory you will need in the future.
There was even a table that explained all the dishes on the menu and you could order them with the touch of button and a runner would bring the dish out to you and when you were ready to pay, you just put the credit card into the table and pay for it. The salesman got annoyed with me when I asked “doesn’t that take the whole purpose of going out to converse with other people and engage in conversation?” He moved onto the next customer.
So much more can be attached to the Smart Phones and companies like DiningEdge (www.diningedge.com (561) 260-4975) are bringing this straight to the customer with ordering and scanning products.
Diningedge for computer software
So much change in the Restaurant industry is going on with new products, new ways of looking at decor, security and staffing but the take away I got from the technological part was that they are taking out the human factor at the expense of saving money on staffing which I think is wrong. The whole point of going out is to meet people, have a good meal with nice conversation and to be social. Isn’t it what Hospitality is all about?
Walking the NY Restaurant Show is a couple of miles long but you see the innovation of the future and figure that every time we go out to eat, it started by walking the isles of this show. Miles of show!
The New York Restaurant Show is every March.
The Restaurant Show in revisited in 2020:
The Restaurant Show this year was very quiet in comparison to previous years. The Flu scared everyone away and the show just did not have the same amount of people milling around. You could walk down each aisle without bumping into anyone.
That being said there were many innovative companies that the industry missed this year. Amongst the vendors I have seen in the past, there were many that stood out. Off to the side of the show, there was a new food innovation area where many small vendors were showing their wares.
In the dessert area was Baci Gelato (Info@BaciGelato.com/1-888-441-BACI) whose flavors were really delicious and refreshing in a building that was getting hot with all the walking. Their Melon Gelato was really refreshing and light and had a hint of sweetness. The Lemon Ice was tart and sweet and also refreshing when wondering around the area of the show.
Baci Gelato Inc.
A new line of Cheese breads, Pao De Queijo, from Brazil really stood out. These light cheesy round breads can make the perfect appetizer or addition to a bread basket. With each bite these small bread bites have a chewy, cheesy taste of Parmesan and cheddar. I talked with the representative of La Toca Blanca (firstname.lastname@example.org-(201) 723-0838) and he told me this was something he grew up with and was proud to sell. These little balls of cheeses are highly addictive and delicious. I had to pop more than a few.
Those addictive cheese breads
One of the beverages that tasted nicely and was refreshing was from Piper & Leaf Artisan Tea Company (www.piperpartner.com.-(256) 426-9620). These light tea blends had a nice flavor when they were able to seep and the flavors became more complex. I tried their Strawberry Shindig which was light and had a hint of the infused strawberries and their Lemon Berry Blush with tastes of sweet strawberry and a hint of lemon from the lemon grass infusion.
Piper & Leaf Teas
Another beverage company that was a stand out was Blossom Botanical Water (drinkblossomwater.com-(855-325-5777) with their line of infused refreshing bottled waters. All six of their flavors are standouts and when properly chilled it really brings out the flavors of the drinks. Of the six, the Lemon Rose was the big winner with its hints of rose petals and light sweet lemon flavoring and the Mango Hibiscus with its tastes of the rich fruits with an added tartness.
Blossom Botanical Waters are excellent!
One of the bakeries that stood out was the Brooklyn Patisserie Bakery (www.brooklynpatisserie.com-(718) 852-1768) from Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn. This line of breads, scones, pastries and desserts stood out for their quality, taste, appearance and the fact that with every bite you could taste the whole butter in the dough and the fresh fruit in the danishes. Their apple and berry danishes made me visit the booth many times and their Chocolate Croissant was filled with a nice amount of sweet chocolate.
Another dessert product that was popular in the show and I have been to their cafe in Little Italy for over fifty years is Ferrara Foods (www.FerraraNYC.com-(212) 226-6150) with their decadent cannoli and tiramisu. Their pastry shells come in two sizes and the cannoli filling comes prepackaged so that you have the perfect filling for each bite.
Ferrara Foods cannoli are rich and creamy.
Another Asian product that is new to the market and is just entering the United States is Mrs. Tran’s Kitchen (Murrayintltrading@yahoo.com-(718) 230-7888) When I was talking to the representative with the company the business was started by the General Manager of the company’s mother from her traditional recipes.
Mrs. Trans Kitchen
Their lines of dumplings, spring rolls and samosas are light, flavorful and really give a nice alternative when having Dim Sum with a product containing real vegetables and are Halal and MSG free. Their line of dumplings are light and flavorful.
Mrs. Tran’s Dim Sum Lines
Of the many savories that I tasted, there were more than a few that stood out. The French company Aviko (www.avikofoodsservice.com-(908) 375-8566) specializes in potato products. They offered delicious versions of French Fries which were cooked to perfection and on display for tasting. The two real products of theirs that stood out were their Gratins in both Gratin Cream and Cheese and Gratin Cheese and Broccoli.
Aviko’s Potato Gratins are heaven in each bite
Every little bite of these gratins has a rich, dense and sharp taste of the cheese and the broccoli version I think is the best for its richness and complexity of flavors.
Aviko Potato Products
Another standout at the show were the mixes from Drum Rock Products (www.drumrockproducts.com-(401) 737-5165), who offer a selection of batters, breaders and fritter mixes.
They also have a line of pancake and waffle mixes that there were not sampling. The ladies had mixed the fritter batter with a mix of seafood and also battered shrimp. The batter adhered beautifully and had a wonderful crisp and crunchy outside and the seafood was moist on the inside. The flavoring had a nice malted flavor to it.
The delicious breadings and mixes from Drum Rock add flavor to seafood
Another standout product that was being sampled was from Balkan Bites (email@example.com). The ladies were sampling something called a ‘Burek’ which is a savory stuffed phyllo swirl that was filled with feta cheese and ricotta, beef and onion and potato and onion. These little bites had the rich butter taste of the flaky dough and the favorable fillings.
Each bite had a nice complex flavor of the meat, cheese and the dough. The beef ‘burek’ had nice spiciness to it.
Balkan Bites Co.
The ‘Bureks’ in beef, cheese and spinach
The best and ultimate food that I tasted at the show in 2020 was Crunch Rolls (www.crunchrollsfactory.com-1-877-4-Crunch). This delicious versions of the modern egg roll are out of this world good.
This product is the ultimate appetizer or snack as they are breaded and deep fried on the outside and filled with flavorful savory fillings on the inside. All of the flavors are interesting. The Buffalo Chicken are spicy and sweet, the Hungarian banana pepper has a interesting twist to a calzone, the Mac & Cheese is decadent and the Steak & Cheese gives the Cheesesteak a new identity. This will be a very popular product in the market.
The Buffalo Chicken Crunch Roll
Leaving the food section of the show and entering the equipment and furnishings section of the Restaurant Show I noticed a lot of interesting designs both in dining equipment and display pieces to add conversation to any restaurant or specialty shop.
The Culinary Depot (Sales@culinarydepot.biz-(845) 352-8200) handles the lines of many manufacturers and one line of serving dishes that stood out to accent any buffet line was the Maximillan Steel Chafer dishes. These are total redesign of the traditional chafing dish and there is a beauty and elegance to their design.
The Maximillan Steel Buffet designs are clean and elegant
The IFI Gelato Collection (firstname.lastname@example.org@ifi.it-39-0721-20021) has some interesting ways of serving up the traditional gelato products but the one that stood out the most is the Tonda serving freezer. This revolving freezer shows off all the flavors carried in your sampling and only stops when you get to the one you want to serve. I can see an almost “I Love Lucy” sitcom value to this product of revolving treats.
The Tonda Gelato Freezer by IFI Gelato
Another kitchen product that mesmerized me at the show was the Peel-a-ton by Astra Inc. (www.e-astra.co.jp-(310) 733-7586). This automatic peeler is a cross between peeler, gizmo, bar conversation started and toy for bartenders.
What makes this product so unique is the way it peels the fruit in a whimsical way of taking off the skin while creating a garnish for the very drinks that contain the fruit. It is a nice way for a restaurant to both create garnishes and have the fruit ready for the kitchen while keeping the customers amused.
Peel-a-ton is an interesting piece of equipment
Another interesting addition to any restaurant is from the Compaction Technologies Inc. (www.compactiontechnologies.com-(612) 230-2200) with their new twist to trash disposal with the Ecotrash trash can.
Not only does this compact garbage, recyclables and food waste into a neat package but the design would fit into upscale food establishment or food court environment. They make waste disposal easy and sanitary while creating an elegant look in three colors.
Compaction Technologies Ecotrash machine
Another unique food court item that may not garner much attention but is needed was for the bathroom.
Wiz Kids Products (infor@WizKidProducts.com-(954) 323-2485) offered a new twist to the toilet seat with a set of vertical urinal screens in different colors and scents called the Splash Hog. They were not only decorative but hid smells. I knew this because they were using them in the bathrooms of the Javis Center.
Splash Hogs by WizKid Products
Two technology products that are going to change the way we do business and the way we capture customer information are by KounterTop for integration of information in the kitchen and by Eyecatch, a company that uses eye contact to ‘read’ who we are as a person.
Eyecatch (www.eyecatch.com-(954) 641-8451) is cutting edge technology that has been used on the West Coast for some time now. I had heard it is big in Seattle. The computer reads who you are and tries to guess your age and then sets up a profile about you starting when you walk in the door and then what you buy. The representative said that it will then start a profile on you and even offer you coupons and incentives the more times you come into an establishment. I thought it was interesting but to invasive and “Big Brother”.
KounterTop (Kountertop.com-(650) 900-4499)is an all in one computer program that schedules and staff, does Food Prep Management from waste to ordering and food rotation and also tracks sales, safe tracking and tip out management. It basically runs all your paperwork and back of the house reports to keep you up to date on restaurant profitability. I used to do it all by hand.
These are the developments and changes that are going to take our industry into the 21st Century. The scary part is that it is almost like a “Twilight Zone” Episode where everything gets automated and you no longer need humans to do the work anymore. Things are developing very fast but the industry has to remember something. We are still in the Hospitality field and you need the human touch to make people feel welcome. This changes are good for some aspects of the business not so much for others.
Every year the technology changes surprise and excite me but scare me at the same time. Who is going to be running the show soon? It will be interesting to see when I visit again in 2021 when more developments keep happening. Still it was an eye-opening show.