Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gluttons unite!

We all know I love me some food. I mean I had a love affair before I got pregnant but now? Hell, I can eat my body weight and only feel momentarily full. But there is a trial a'coming.
I must prepare!
Cece and I have gone for the last two years in a row. This means I attended while eight and a half months pregnant. I looked like an Amazonian bowling ball with legs. Cece had to roll me down the aisles.

Now I will share my hard won knowledge with you.
This is a business event. It may be an orgy of food, but it not a restaurant. You can't buy food and you can't have it your way. This is a meet and greet for food businesses. People like Cece go and talk ingredients/recipes with chefs, producers, and company reps. Others go to make retail connections or raise the profile of their brands. Some go to see the next trend and fad in foodie culture or try new products. People like me go to feast and be nosy about the industry.
It is seriously insane the sheer volume of samples out there. The key is strategy. You need to plain like a desert campaign (or dessert campaign, har har). Focus on your areas of specific interest. For me that is chocolate. Cece tends towards individual ingredients (spices, extracts, oils) and chef talk.
The artfully arranged chocolate is my favorite part
Best believe I went to town on these
Do not replicate our newbie error by wandering freely without a system. We ended up engorged and nauseous. When you choose a type of food stick with it! If you start with cheese, stay on it until you're done. Clear your palate and move on. Do not hopscotch back and forth between chocolate, oils, spices, sweets, prepared foods, and cheese. Trust me.
I highly recommend going with someone like Cece, an outgoing cook and baker. She is also, incidentally, a genius at getting us samples. She knows the products so well the booth people love to talk to her and ply her with full size offerings. Like all specialists, they like to be appreciated and I think it brightens their day to talk shop. 
Drink all the water in the world and wear comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet for hours--there's over a thousand exhibitors. We generally only do the main room, skip the demonstrations and restrict ourselves to one day.
No Mama's were slapped in the testing of these samples (but they were damn good)
Mark your calendars and let out your belts, people. January is almost upon us!

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