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.
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. Another was Mochidoki (firstname.lastname@example.org (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 (email@example.com (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.
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.
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.
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.
There were some stand out desserts at the show that were interesting. A few that stood out were Little Red Kitchen’s (firstname.lastname@example.org (347) 815-4824) Blondies and Brownies that were being sampled. They were rich, dense and rich in flavor. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 everytime 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.