A vendor displays his bottles at the Winter Fancy Food Show. There was everything a foodie could imagine.
I just got back from a visit to San Francisco, a place that is like a second home to me. I got to reconnect with a dear friend there who I haven’t seen in two years. We had a wonderful time together. But my trip was also business. I attended the Fancy Food Show. Every year, it’s held in San Francisco in the winter and New York in the summer (though this year it will be in Washington, DC).
The show is for specialty food retailers, suppliers and buyers. It’s a great opportunity to check out what’s new and exciting in the food business. You also can literally explode from all the delicious samples (including tequila). It’s huge. It’s tiring. And it’s a lot of fun. Some things I noticed:
- Ginger seems to be big this year. There were many ginger-based cocktails and sodas to sample that were delicious.
- My favorite–organic baking chips made from South and Central American chocolates from Guittard Chocolate Company.
- Many more chocolatiers with diverse products and flavors.
- Tons of popcorn–cheese, kettle, herbed––you name it and they probably make it.
- Low-calorie chips made from sweet potato, lentil and popcorn.
- More delicious teas than you can imagine.
And there were the usual suspects–lots of cheese, olives, olive oils, crackers and other tasty morsels. So much to try! Lots of great packaging ideas, too.
In conjunction with the Fancy Food Show, the Fine Chocolate Industry Association had their winter meeting. It was great to get together with my chocolate peers from around the country. I chatted with Gary Guittard of Guittard Chocolate Company; Pam Williams, my mentor from École Chocolat; Fredrick Schilling, the former owner of Dagoba Organic Chocolate who is now making chocolate in Brazil; Curtis Vreeland, a confectionary guru and consultant; and Fran Bigelow of Seattle’s famous Fran’s Chocolates. I also met up with some friends from Atlanta who make small-scale grinders and conching machines. It was a great networking opportunity–time to catch up, have some fun and talk about what’s going on in the chocolate industry.
So now we start on 2011 in earnest, armed with fresh inspiration and great ideas.