Food

Savoring the Winter Fancy Food Show in sunny San Diego

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The Fancy Food Show is an international ‘to the trade’ event, three times a year, where gourmet food product purveyors display and sample their wares (in most cases, edible wares!). Approximately 30,000 people attend over the course of three days, and it’s considered the premiere food trade show to spot trends on what we’ll be seeing in our markets and specialty stores throughout the U.S.

Given the lack of enthusiasm for ‘08’s Winter Fancy Food Show I heard repeatedly from colleagues last year, due to it migrating south to San Diego from regular host city San Francisco (an ‘off’ year, due to scheduling conflicts years back with that tiny trade show they call Macworld), it was hard to predict how strong attendance would be in a not-so-foodie city.

We were totally taken by surprise, given the huge number of attendees (as many as last year in SF)—and the fact that our booth was stationed in the best spot we’ve ever had at this show, in either SF or New York—front row, pretty much center of the entire convention hall:

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Everyone stopped and said, OH MY GODDDDD—TOP CHEF COOKBOOK! We are so proud and thrilled to be publishing the first-ever tie-in cookbook to the wildly popular Bravo televison show, coming out at the end of March, just as Season 4 begins to air on 3/12.

We had some great booth time with Top Chef Season 3 finalist Brian Malarkey—he loves Michael Chiarello, and is, quote, “happy to whore [myself] for the book however you’d like”. He was super, super nice. We also got to eat at the restaurant where he’s executive chef, The Oceanaire Seafood Room (which was the best SD meal in my opinion):

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THEN, after he’d come to our table already, he walks over and says, “I’d like to introduce you to my good friend—Hung!” Hung was also VERY nice!

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Hot product highlights besides Top Chef were:

Toddler Café by Jennifer Carden (available April 08)–People were able to see a finished copy, and that it is the ‘anti-’ Deceptively Delicious.

Grill Every Day by Diane Morgan (available May 08), author of our best-selling titles Delicious Dips and The Thanksgiving Table.

Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool (available now)—All you need to know about eating locally, seasonally, and sustainably, with profiles of key food producers in the organic food world.

The Gift of Wine (available June 08)—You’ll never have to purchase ugly gift wine bags again! All you need to dress up your gifting of a wine bottle in one convenient kit (good for 12 bottles).

Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead (available March 08)—Whimsical cakes, from easy to more complex, in a myriad number of shapes and themes—from a goldfish to a Genius Robot to a crossword cake, there are amazing recipes throughout this book that both kids and adults alike will want to bake.

And as always, lots of people searching for products that deal with cheese, wine, chocolate, tea, and coffee.

Our neighbors were Ham I Am—incredibly delicious ham and bacon from Dallas, Texas. We had bacon-scented products and clothing as a result, but it was SOOOO good—Amy and I have never eaten so much bacon in our lives!

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Amy (my colleague and fellow Chronicle Food & Drink blogger) and I had some decent culinary experiences in a not-so-focal California food city, that is obsessed with drama factor in the realm of restaurant interiors:

Rama:

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Stingaree:

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As you can see, it’s all about being ‘L.A. cool’—wish the food was as good as L.A.’s! O.k., no more San Diego bashing—the weather was amazing…

Also, check out trade publication The Gourmet Retailer’s top finds at the show (it gives you an idea of the insane variety of food-related items on exhibit).

Thanks for getting this far!

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Late 90’s ‘tall’ food at Chive—actually, pretty darned good!

Peter Perez
Senior Marketing Manager

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