The Foodservice Show and The Professional Kitchen Show on the 22nd/23rd January at the NEC in Birmingham UK was by all accounts a great success. This was a combined event which made full use of the synergy between the two sectors. It was especially so for the exhibitors who enjoyed meaningful conversations and making some lucrative contacts. For the visitor, it was a show for discovering new products and ideas, for inspiration and making those contacts which are so valuable in this industry.
Clearly, this is a show that is going to stay because it covers a unique sector of the food industry which is the provision of services, equipment and food. Many of the customers are looking for high quality ingredients to make that life a little easier or for equipment which upgrades or adds value to the cooking experience. These visitors come from a variety of concerns. They are owners, directors and managers of restaurants and hotels, of organisations that rely on food offering such as airlines, caterers of various establishments and of course consultants. Lets not forget the chefs as these are the guys that decide what ingredients will come into their kitchen to make the spectacular foods we love.
Throughout the day, it was valuable soaking up the knowledge around the objectives and strategy of many of the suppliers. When you look at primary producers, Worcester Produce are very large growers of fruit and vegetables in the county of the same name. All that produce has the accredited Red tractor and Leaf standards. Not only that, but they offer a range of exotic mushrooms, lots of dairy and a number of branded products. All of these are kitchen essentials, a number of which are sourced from mainland Europe.
When it comes to microgreens such as the little salad garnishes that grace a dish or even those fancy flowers, then look at Worcester produce but also look at what Evogro are doing. Their cabinets are ideal for growing in a very showy way, the sort of food which would enthral the customer. A bit like a lobster in a tank at a seafood restaurant, a vegans and vegetarians would known doubt salivate at the prospect of seeing such a range of young fresh food in a vibrant setting. Really
If you like avocado, then avocado oil might be your next culinary and nutritional offer which replaces other nut oils. We have spoken at length about this oil because of its health properties. The suppliers, who are the Grinfield/Avrahami family from Israel are a long established farming family. Avocado growing might well be in their blood and they have created not just the oil but puree pastes for the caterer.
Cold coffee continues to feature. The Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Co. which is German based showcased their Black Rabbit cold brew concentrate and Truestart which both featured various types of cold coffee. Truestart are about to launch their RTD can whilst Black Rabbit have created a concentrate which can be nitrogenated using a typical Nitro press. If you prefer coffee the more traditional way, then Beanworks based in Brackley send their roasted coffee beans to whoever needs them.
I like Ginger. Ginger Dragon supply ginger in all its delicious forms from China and also a range of sauces from Fiji including a fine Tamarind paste and a very potent ginger paste. That ginger paste is ideal for Chinese cooking but it also works well in tagines too.
If you like baked goods then the show really came up trumps. Madeleines in all sorts of guises were show cased. The exhibitors even showed off a sliced madeleine which might not have fooled everyone into thinking it was a carton of chips or fries. Nice try ! It does show that this French cake is much more versatile. Lots of toppings and deliciousness to boot.
Wickedly Welsh Chocolate have a beautiful range of slabbed chocolate. Based in Haverford West they are taking this confectionary to new heights.
Cofresh Snack Foods Ltd showed a large range of quinoa chips, lentil chips and hummus chips under the Eat Real brand name. Definitely a healthy snack in most senses of the word. A major addition to the non-potato snack category. All of them were gluten free and suitable for vegans. They have quite a range of flavours within each category and they all have a texture which is suited to everyone.
Another healthy snack line was Neat Nutrition’s vegan protein bar range in peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt and then Coconut, Cashew & Almond. Each bar contains blend of green tea, spirulina and chlorella. They also offer sachets of whey protein for blending into smoothies and other dishes.
If you like popcorn, then Jo&Sephs salted caramel gourmet popcorn might be just the thing. Again a strong emphasis on gluten-free and another fine addition to the many favourites which graced their stand and aisles. The sea salted and sweet and salty popcorn was the main focus of their attention but it’s always worth looking back at the product offerings that have been notably successful. For catering purposes, they offered 1kg bottles of caramel sauce which clearly has applications in product arena looking for sweet dessert pouring sauces.
No shortage of dairy food suppliers. AJ & RG Barber in Ditcheat, Somerset. Tasty Cheddar cheeses from their creamery are the order of the day. Of particular note was the strong mature cheddar with a sharp, slightly acidic bite. Their recipe book clearly makes great use of these flavours. At the other end of the country, we had Wensleydale Creamery from Hawes offering their cheeses especially the eponymous cheese.
The Dutch concern, DeJong Cheese produce mainly soft cheeses using both cow and goat’s milk. Their award wining Alphenaer Goats Cheese appears a real winner, especially the one flavoured with fenugreek. Otherwise, catering organisations can enjoy their logs and crumbles. BV Dairy emphasised their catering and service in the dairy sector especially with soft cheese and creams.