The Torch Award, which symbolizes Illumination, Energy, Joy, Victory, Enlightenment, Hope and Education will be presented to Roy Choi on Sunday, August 25 at 3:30 pm on Center Stage by The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and The California Restaurant Association. This prestigious award was created to honor outstanding chefs and/or restaurateurs who embody all those qualities and characteristics. Roy was chosen for his outstanding knowledge and leadership; philanthropic and community efforts; extraordinary talent and creativity; and his innovation and inspiration.
First off, thanks go out to the California Restaurant Association, sponsor of the expo, for an amazing job bringing in so much restaurant talent to the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo 2015.
My fave discoveries are listed down below. But for those that only have a couple of minutes see our YouTube slide show and check out this award-winning news I received after the close of the show:
The Winners of the People’s Choice Awards for the Innovative New Product Gallery were announced today at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Thousands of attendees voted for their favorite products. The Overall Winner was Fresh Origins for their Unique Flower Buds are succulent, juicy and salty. The 1st Place Runner Up was Spindrift for their fresh squeezed seltzer cans – cucumber, lime and grapefruit; and The 2nd Place Runner Up was Menuvative for their Tablet Menus. The winner of the Best New Product in the Food Trends Experience was Yummy Baking for their Gourmet Dessert Cups and Bites. In addition, Annie Doung, Strategic Buyer, Panda Restaurant Group, Rosemead, CA, won a $500 shopping spree on the show floor.
There was a lot to learn from all of the classes offered at the show. I attended: The Women’s Entrepreneur’s Circle; BYOB – Build Your Own OUTstanding Business – The Secret Sauce for Making your Business Stand OUT; LEADERChoice – The Four Essential Ingredients of Successful Leaders; What’s Hot and What’s Not in Social Media and an awesome round up of some of the latest food trends in a brief meeting called Pitch the Press that I think readers would be most interested in.
Pitch the Press
Borges USA – Caters to the Mediterranean lifestyle with Star olive oil from Southern Spain and salad dressings.
Fresh Origins – Their unique eatable flowers are newly enhanced with their latest product, Flower Buds, that have visible water crystals giving the flower both a juicy and salty flavor. Perfect for fine-dining chefs and plate presentation.
Heineken USA – Introduced a new “BrewLock Draught Beer System” that has 100% yield and reduces foam problems.
HotSchedules – A mobile app for employees to check their schedules; works for restaurants, retail and hospitality industries. This management program promises to be 75% faster than any existing programs.
Karoun Dairies – Mediterranean cheese, dairy products, yogurt, yogurt spread, yogurt drinks with probiotics and more.
Leafware – Really cool looking trays made from all natural fallen palm leaves for one-time use that can be branded with your logo.
O Olive Oil – Fruit cut cold pressed 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil and vinegars, located in the heart of wine country between Napa and Sonoma.
OtaJay Japanese – Komachi sauces found at Benihana restaurants.
SociaReach – This “organic social marketing program” is available for the customer to post on Facebook while dining, and then pushed through Yelp if favorable review. A tablet is provided in the restaurant for instant check ins and likes. Customer gets an emailed thank you afterwards.
Superior Farms – An American-based company now specializing in lamb bacon for use in salads and sandwiches. Available nationwide. (We tried it, not as greasy, a bit gamey, 100% tasty.)
Tap it Brewing – Located in San Luis Obispo, Tap it Brewing has its own hop farm and makes up to 3 batches per year. Their current big seller is called Snafu.
TossWare – Crystal clear upscale disposable and recyclable plastic drink ware priced between .60 and $1.25 each. The rep said that their glasses have a better “mouthfeel” than their competitors.
Uppercrust – From Toronto, Canada we got KILLER Nutella products; we know because we tried them. A beignet filled with Nutella was one, as well as Nutella filled vanilla and chocolate cookies. At press time we have a tray of Nutella brownies just itching to be sampled.
Vessi – A charging station that comes with remote hand-held units that have various cords for different smart phones. A patron exchanges an ID card for its use. Avoids guests searching for outlets, overuse of outlets, guests sitting on floors near outlets…very cool.
WorkPop – A website-based hiring platform company, based in Santa Monica, that is free for restaurant owners to post their available jobs.
Wunder Bar – From bar guns to pizza sauce dispensers, Wunder Bar dispenses multiple pre-measured pours from one spot.
Samosa King – An add-in to our press event, the owner of this company shared her love of cooking samosas as a child. She uses all hand ground spices and “nothing from the market.”
The Food Trends Experience is a tasting adventure providing direct access to product, flavors and ingredients driving the most recent trends in the market – healthy, organic, sustainable, ethnic, artisanal, and more! Presented within the Show, the Food Trends Experience is your fastest and most convenient way to see, taste, discover and learn about the culinary innovations that will inspire creative and fresh menu ideas, delight customers and drive profits.
A few of the companies participating in the Food Trends Experience (The ones I was able to check out or try a sample are in bold below)
A.I. Foods Corporation
Amay’s Bakery & Noodle Co., Inc.
Edibles by Jack
Kraft Lifeway Foods Inc.
Neostar USA LLC
O Olive Oil
San Diego Pretzel Company
Sparrow Lane Artisan Vinegar & Oil
Tasted and loved (Besides those I’ve already mentioned.)
Agstandard Smoked Almonds, Primitive Feast (samoosas), Coconut Bliss (extra creamy coconut ice cream), LA Baking Co., Savour Kitchen spice blends, Kradjian Importing Co. (flavorful olives and dolmas), Yanni Grilling Cheese, Prince Waffles authentic Belgian cuisine, French Confection Bakery, Lilly’s Hummus, Demitri’s Bloody Mary Seasoning, Honey Smoked Fish Company (great salmon and fun video), Taisetsu sake, Glossop’s Premium Bar Syrups (interesting flavors like Lemon Lavender and Smoked Sugar),Torani (look for NEW syrups for blended coffees, etc.), Imurya’s Mochi Coconut Cream Frozen Dessert (especially the Salted Caramel and Yuzu Citrus), Fresh Origins (herb, fruit and flower crystals to put on the rim of a cocktail or over a dessert, and beautiful edible flowers including the new salty and sweet Flower Bud), Fresh Noodle (a wide array of “custom” ramen), Popkoff’s Dumplings, Bridgford (beautiful bread cones for food displays), Fosselman’s Ice Cream, LA International Wines (we sampled a few nice blends from Baja, CA) and KomBucha Dog beer brewed from teas adorned with labels with rescue dogs.
Although I didn’t do a lot of beer-imbibing, a partial list of 2015 participating brewers, brought to you by the California Craft Brewers Association, included:
Trumer Pils Brewery
Tap It Brewing Company
The Dudes Brewing Company
Mad River Brewing Company
Dust Bowl Brewing Company
Three Weavers Brewing Company
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com
I think this is the third time I visited the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center and yet I always find several new items to taste, learn and see each time. If you work in the food industry, or own a bar, restaurant, catering business or winery you definitely should attend this multi-day event at least once.
I always take a slew of photos. If you don’t want to read my article take a gander at my slideshow here for the short version.
The favorites for me this year in both food and beverage include:
Kelvin Slush Company for several drinks including the Frose aka Frozen Rose made with wine and vodka, John Daly and Miami Mule; the “Resort Charger” that is a wine cooler/phone charger/beach table in one; St. Petersburg Vodka had a ever-so-slight sweet edge to it and “outscores Ketel One, Stoli, Grey Goose and Belvedere”; the Croqu Monsieur made with Ayoya Flatbread; Ginja 9 Cherry Liqueur can be purchased along with little dark chocolate cups; Lick’d natural ice cream bars; Pops Rumpopa Rum Cream Liqueur Almond flavor was yummy but they also make an original and banana; Torani syrup just came out with a lemonade flavor; Brooklyn Gin in its blue glass bottle was striking, as was its clean botanicals; Point Reyes cheeses; Don Chelada Michelada mix was perfectly spicy enough for a Michelada but would also lend itself well to a Bloody Mary or a spicy shrimp cocktail; Toguchi Japanese Whiskey from peated malt and grain aged in sherry and brandy casks; Kradjian olives and stuffed grape leaves; Breckenridge whisky; never skip watching the Honey Smoked Fish Co. “voted best smoked salmon” at least for the demo show they put on every year; Ohishi Japanese Whisky; Tailormade Foods cookies; Jozen Sake.
This year I attended two classes and share my notes from each below:
Driving Sales through Grass Roots Marketing, a Productive Team and Smart Operations.
I’ve heard Darren Denington from Service with Style speak before, may have even been the same topic. These are my takeaways this year:
- Start with employee morale, if they are unhappy they are looking elsewhere, giving away freebies and talking about you negatively. Owners/Managers: spend time with your team.
- Make sure your staff knows what items you make the most money from and push those.
- Marketing starts with your guest’s perspective. Secret shoppers are one way to find out. You will need to impress a guest at least three times – by focusing on service. The “how can I help you” type of serve that In-N-Out and Chick-Fil-A are known for.
- A whopping 85% of diners do the “one and done” with a restaurant due to staff with an “attitude of indifference.”
- Staff need to allow just a 15-second statement to make to a customer that is not about the restaurant. (I highly recommend that you allow the staff to find their own script for that. It will come across more sincere if your cosmetic-loving waitress compliments a diner on her makeup.)
- Once employee morale is high, then sell your promotions. Events, Happy Hour, whatever – if they are vested in the restaurants then their sales efforts will be effective and not forced.
- Be aware of something the diner liked and offer a deal on a return visit. If the desserts slayed them then offer a free dessert at their next visit, etc. This gives them a reason to come back.
- Partner with a non-profit on an event. Tests have shown that sales can go up afterwards.
- Design a bulletin board to hold breakable items, add in what the cost is for each so that staff is tangibly aware of how things can add up.
- Design different Happy Hours for each day it’s offered: Singles Nights, Legal/Biz Nights where they can invite potential clients.
- Meat + 3 sides lunch campaign where less meat is offered than the full entrée, and less expensive sides are pushed.
- Build your own marketing committee from your existing staff. This makes them listened to and engaged. Then plan one year in advance for all of the campaigns you want to do.
Lots to digest here so I’ll give you a week off and then you can return to read Part Two – all about what I learned from Bartender of the Year…Bar Rescue’s Rob Floyd.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com
- 10 Reasons Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Menu Design with Jorge Pacheco, Kulture Konnect (1:00 – 1:45 pm)
- Beacon Award Presentation to Kelli Valade, Chili’s Grill & Bar (1:00 – 1:30 pm)
- How to Attract, Retain, and Motivate Millennials in your Workforce with Joe Gabriel, Snag a job (2:00-2:45 pm)
- Seven Key “Legal” Ingredients to Succeed as a Restaurant Owner/Operator with Andrew C. Kienle, Esq., Hart King (2:00-2:45 pm)
- 5th Annual CRA Foundation Culinary Clash sponsored by Coca Cola (3:00 – 5:00 pm)
- Torch Award Presentation to Chef Thomas Keller (1:00-2:00 pm)
- Reach More Customers: Restaurant Social Media Marketing with Emma Vaughn, Main Street Hub (2:00-2:45 pm)
- The Latino Consumer: What You Still Don’t Know with Lilly Rocha, Sabor Latino Food Industry Trade Show (2:00 -2:45 pm)
- Restaurant Technology: What’s the Missing Link? With Steve Bigari, SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions (4:00 – 4:45 pm)
- Legal Center Live at Western Food Expo with the California Restaurant Association’s Legal Partners (12:00-12:45 pm)
- Increase Profits by Controlling Food Costs with Pat Darling, CTUIT (1:00-1:45 pm)
- The New Normal! Trans Inclusivity in the Workplace – The business case for inclusivity, creating an inclusive work environment; HR laws and practices as highlighted in the Department of Fair Employment and Housing FAQ for Employers. (1:00 – 3:00 pm)
- Exhibit floor featuring over 500 leading companies.
- Educational Sessions in the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum giving attendees a chance to increase their knowledge on the latest technology and trends.
- Special Feature Areas on the show floor include the Food Trends Experience, International Pavilion, Culinary Demonstration Pavilion, Beer, Wine and Spirits Pavilion, and much more.
The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo gathers thousands of restaurant and foodservice professionals to gain experience and knowledge on how to become more informed, more educated, more competitive, and more profitable in the industry. The tradeshow and conference, started in 1936 is produced by Urban Expositions (
Thomas Keller, renowned chef and proprietor of The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, which includes The French Laundry and Per Se, both of which hold three-star Michelin ratings, will receive the TORCH Award during the upcoming Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo on August 28th – 30th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The award, which recognizes an individual or group of Chefs or Restaurateurs whose achievements have enhanced and brought innovation to the restaurant and foodservice profession, will be presented by Certified Master Chef Ferdinand Metz, Chairman of the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum and former President of the Culinary Institute of America for more than 20 years.
“Thomas Keller was chosen to receive the Torch Award for the purity of his knowledge, the clarity of his vision and the brilliance of his career–all qualities we look for when selecting an outstanding chef for this award,” said Master Chef Metz. “We are thrilled to present Thomas with this illustrious award to recognize his commitment to elevating cooking in America.”
Keller’s dedication to the French cuisine has led him to be the first American male chef to be designated a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration in France. Keller was also named “Chef of the Year” by The Culinary Institute of America in 2007 and has been named “Outstanding Chef” and “Outstanding Restaurateur” by the James Beard Foundation. His restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se have earned numerous awards and recognitions including the 5-Star Award from Forbes Travel Guide, Wine Spectator’s Grand Award and The Daily Meal’s Best Restaurants in America.
Keller started his culinary career at a young age, working at a restaurant in Palm Beach. In 1983, Keller moved to France where he was able to work in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants including Guy Savoy and Taillevent. In 1986, he opened his first restaurant in New York City called Rakel. Keller then moved to the west coast, becoming the Executive Chef at the Checkers Hotel in Los Angeles. In 1994, he took ownership of The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California and opened Per Se in 2004 in Manhattan. He has also opened Bouchon, Bar Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, and Ad Hoc + Addendum, and has sold more than one million copies of his books “Ad Hoc at Home”, “Bouchon Bakery”, “The French Laundry”, “Bouchon”, and “Under Pressure”.
“On behalf of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum, we are excited and honored to present the Torch Award to Thomas Keller,” said Ron Mathews, Vice President for the Urban Expositions Family of Foodservice Events. “Chef Keller’s commitment to delivering the best food and experience to his customers continues to drive the industry forward and we are thrilled to be able to recognize his career and achievements.”
The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo gathers thousands of restaurant and foodservice professionals to gain experience and knowledge on how to become more informed, more educated, more competitive, and more profitable in the industry. The trade show and conference, started in 1936 is produced by Urban Expositions (www.urban-expo.com) and sponsored by the California Restaurant Association (www.calrest.org). The 2016 event will take place August 28-30 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more information, visit www.westernfoodexpo.com
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo has announced that Rodney Eckerman, PizzaRev CEO and co-founder, will serve as the keynote speaker at the August 23-25 event at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The tradeshow and conference, sponsored by the California Restaurant Association, is the largest showcase of foodservice products in the Western US, giving attendees everything they need to know in terms of the latest trends, newest product options, and idea generating special events.
“We are thrilled to be working with PizzaRev and having Rodney Eckerman discuss his success as our keynote presenter and provide our attendees with real applicable business lessons,” said Ron Mathews, Industry Vice President for the Western Foodservice Expo. “This special keynote will be part of our extensive Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum education program which offers three-days of leading educational content that is practical and relevant for today’s foodservice professional.”
Eckerman sits on the National Restaurant Association’s Fast Casual Industry Council, the primary advocate for the fast casual restaurant segment, and is a regular speaker at leading industry events, including the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference and the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.
Prior to founding PizzaRev in 2012 with longtime business partner, Irv Zuckerman, Eckerman served in a senior management capacity in diverse areas of the entertainment business. His career has included serving as President of Pace Music, COO of NYSE listed SFX’s Music Division, and Co-CEO and COO of NYSE listed Clear Channel’s Music Division. While at Clear Channel, Eckerman had P & L responsibility for operations with gross revenues in excess of 1.4 billion, including food and beverage operations grossing over 100 million per year with operations spanning the US and a large part of Europe.
PizzaRev continues to expand nationally with support from partner Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., who in 2013 announced an equity-investment in PizzaRev and announced an increase in their stake in 2014. The brand has earned a loyal following among Southern California fans that continues to spread across the country as the company enters new markets. Named one of the “10 Brands to Watch” by CNBC and #15 in the FastCasual “Top 100 Movers and Shakers,” PizzaRev has captured the attention and affection of investors and consumers alike. The company continues to seek out franchise partners who share the founders’ food-forward mission and commitment to giving back to the communities it serves.
Since 1936, hundreds of thousands of restaurant and foodservice industry professionals have attended The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo to gain experience and knowledge on how to become more informed, more educated, more competitive, and more profitable in the industry. The tradeshow and conference, sponsored by the California Restaurant Association (www.calrest.org), is the largest showcase of foodservice products in the Western US, giving attendees everything they need to know in terms of the latest trends, newest product options, and idea generating special events. For more information, visit www.westernfoodexpo.com.
PizzaRev is an award winning fast-casual pizza concept that has reinvented the way America eats its favorite food. Guests are empowered to fully customize a personal-sized 11″ pizza for one price. Homemade dough options, flavorful sauces, all-natural cheeses, and more than 30+ artisanal toppings, everything is on display at PizzaRev and assembled right before your eyes. The pizzas are then fired in a 900-degree, stone-hearth oven which produces a thin and crispy Roman-style pizza in just three minutes. Los Angeles-based PizzaRev was founded in 2012; the executive team possesses a combination of Fortune 500 operating experience and high-profile restaurant management.
PizzaRev is currently franchising and announced a strategic partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings in 2013. The company currently has 17 corporate restaurants and 10 franchise locations in operation, with additional franchises under development across Washington, D.C. and 12 states: CA, CO, MA, MN, MO, ND, NV, NY, OH, SD, TX and UT.