Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo in Anaheim, California. This event is an end-all, be-all blowout for foodservice professionals. It is done each year and sponsored by the California Restaurant Association. It is an occasion where restaurateurs and hospitality workers in the Golden State go to mingle, learn, carouse, become enlightened, and–my favorite—to sample, sample, sample.
This year’s Expo drew in excess of 8000 attendees to the Anaheim Convention Center to see such exhibitors as Sysco, U.S. Foods, and the Culinary Institute of America.
The place was packed. And when I say packed, I mean standing room only at the more popular booths—the vendors who showed off their product in the most creative ways were the booths and pavilions that drew in the biggest crowds.
This year’s convention boasted nearly 100 new exhibitors. Among these exhibitors were Frozen Bean, Raaw Juice, and Maplegrove Gluten-Free Foods. Many were vying to tap into the health and fitness segment of the population. But there were also booths with names like Cakes and Stuff that drew my personal interest. After all, if you’re going to drink your Raaw juice, let it be followed by something called Cakes and Stuff.
As for me and my partners in crime for the day, we headed straight for the California Brewer’s Association Pavilion (CBAP) to do a little taste-testing. This year, they featured 11 of California’s craft breweries, including Karl Strauss, Iron Fist, and (my favorite) Hanger 24.
The CBAP is, inarguably, one, if not the most popular exhibit at this expo, and we were determined to find out why.
And find out we did. For Lindsey, my companion and I, it was Hanger 24 Orange Wheat. For Rob, another companion, it was Iron Fist Hired Hand. If you would ever have the opportunity to stop by the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo in Anaheim, don’t miss out on the offerings by the California Brewer’s Association. It will make your whole trip unforgettable—or wholly forgettable—depending on how much you sample. But trust me, it’s worth the wait, especially, if you’re a fan of craft beer.
We were lucky enough to hit the show on Monday, which, as it turns out, was the day to go. We gleaned the much sought after invitations to Happy Hour at Bubba Gumps, courtesy of 360Training.com. Happy hour was a delightful affair that consisted of hors d’oeuvres, wine, and beer.
And more beer.
Expos are my kind of assignment. I’m already in the planning stages of how best to enjoy next year’s event.
After the Expo, Rob, Lindsey and I stopped off at the House of Blues and killed a few enjoyable hours listening to tribute bands that were genuinely hot, including the Curse, Blasphemous Rumours and Maladjusted.
The bands performed surprisingly good covers of work by The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths & Morrissey. It was an enjoyable cap to an educational and enlightening week in foodservice training.
If you work in the foodservice industry in California, I heartily recommend taking in the annual Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo at least once in your lifetime. It’s a fine assemblage of peers and providers who come together once a year to educate, learn, inspire and be inspired.
See you there next year. I’ll be the one holding a beer and eating cake.
http://www.westernfoodexpo.com/DSN/wwwthefoodshowscom/Content/7.30.14-.pdf, http://www.westernfoodexpo.com/74/Show-Info.htm, https://www.facebook.com/events/662564297163061/