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Fancy Food Show Questions - for SD show [moved from SF Bay]

dmsoccerfan Jan 7, 2008 01:33 PM

I plan on attending the Fancy Food Show which is being held for the first time in San Diego this year, and had a few questions posted to this board, since the FFS has been in SF until this year's show:

1. Blogs have mentioned how big this show is. I think the rules that I've read about so far are:

- Be selective in your sampling
- Have a plan (for example -- visit all chocolate vendors first, if that is your focus)

Any other recommendations on how to maximize one day at the show?

2. There's a show rule of "no removal of samples from the show floor". I was hoping to bring some samples home to share with my "other", since I don't really want to taste 100+ samples all at once during the show. My questions:

- How tightly do they enforce this 'no removal of samples' rule?
- Are they really going to search my backpack if I load it full of samples?
- Any hints about how to get around this rule?
- How open are vendors about sharing samples? Do they give away packages of product?

Thanks in advance!

  1. kare_raisu Jan 15, 2008 08:00 PM

    two words: Pata Negra.

    1. d
      dmsoccerfan Jan 14, 2008 08:04 AM

      Thanks for all of the advice. I visited the show on Sunday, more as a consumer than affiliated with any food business. Many of my impressions were aligned with the comments made in this thread.

      - While huge, the convention center was not overwhelming. It was easily walked in several hours. The first couple of hours were pretty light, as I suspect there were many people watching the Chargers game.

      - Lots and lots of chocolate vendors. I had many excellent tastes, but was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of vendors making specialty chocolates, so I stopped sampling after the 20th sample or so.

      - Many, many tea vendors too! Some were good, many were 'me too' products, or not very tasty or subtle.

      - I liked some of the specialty bottled water vendors, especially the ones that offered waters with the essence of some natural flavor, but without the sweeteners.

      - It was nice to taste all of the new varieties of cheese, as well as the many meats and sausages.

      - Skipped most of the chips, salsa, sauces, and 'boil in a bag' meals.

      - I went by a couple of caviar booths, but they weren't actively offering samples, and since I wasn't a "serious buyer", I didn't feel comfortable going in and asking. Don't remember any foie gras sampling either.

      - Nice to finish the day with several gelato samples and a mexican paleta fruit popsicle.

      - I passed on the wine and alcohol sampling, but I think that the wine tasting experience could have been a nice one, especially in the italian and frech pavillion areas where the vendors were not too crowded, and seemed willing to spend some 1:1 time with interested people, compared to the hard selling, badge reading ways of many of the vendors.

      - I wasn't able to get too many samples, except for candy and some chocolates, which filled up my messenger bag. Most vendors offered unwrapped, unpackaged samples for tasting, not packaged samples for taking away. However, I saw many people with backpacks, large handbags, and a few rolling strollers packed with stuff. The guards at the door were eyeballing the clear plastic bags to make sure that they didn't contain samples, but the did not search any of people's personal "luggage".

      All in all, a very interesting 'first' food show for me. Definitely worth the $35 registration fee.

      1 Reply
      1. re: dmsoccerfan
        Captain Jack Jan 15, 2008 09:23 AM

        What a great show. I ate enough cheese, prosciutto, pate and antipasti to last me the rest of winter. I ran into and chatted with Michael Chiarello from the food network for a while as well. Well I am off for round two.


      2. kare_raisu Jan 13, 2008 09:29 PM

        Is there anything going on special for tuesday? friends are great.

        29 Replies
        1. re: kare_raisu
          DiningDiva Jan 14, 2008 08:23 AM

          The schedule of events is posted on the web site. Most of the workshops required advanced registration and carried a fee. I went yesterday and a friend with a media pass tried to get into the workshop I attended and was turned away.

          I only made it through about 40% of the show and will be going back on Tuesday to see how much of the rest of it I can finish. So far some of the more interesting products to me have been:
          - Snail oil cream (as in hand cream)
          - Lemon flavored avocado oil
          - Preserved hibiscus flowers
          - Tuna w/jalapeno (jarred
          )- Aloe Vera drink
          - Drinkable vegetables
          - Sin Fool (no fat, no sugar, no dairy, diabeetic safe)
          - THINK products
          - Sherry Vinegar Reduction (syrup consistency)
          - Guava preserves and jams
          - Carica

          Every time I attend the FFS I always leave thinking that there can never be more olive oils - there were - more chocolats - there were - , more cheese - there were - or more beverages - there were. Thankfully, there were a lot fewer jelly beans this year. Blueberry and pomegranate are the hot flavors and dipping sauces in tropical combinations. But aside from all the cheese, chocolate, oils and beverages, I did notice a lot more health and diet related products, good tasting wheat and/or gluten free products, more organics; products that can't be classified as "diet" but clearly fall into the category of food for health and well being.

          I also met some real characters in the booths. The owner of Stix in the Mud (think pretzels and chocolate; delicious) was a hoot. Andrew the owner of AllAboutTea in the British aisles was passionate about tea, but I loved his Union Jack shorts and knee high socks ;-). The maple lady in one of the Canadian booths was a delight and her products (not yet available in SD) were tasty. There's a guy in the Australian rows who has a mousse product that was simply to die for. He's won any number of accolades in AUS, but has no distribution, yet, in the U.S.

          If you have the chance to go, do so. I love hearing what everyone else found. The show is so huge, and we all have such different needs and tastes it's always so interesting to find out what other people liked. It's a bit like the blind men and the elephant...

          1. re: DiningDiva
            kare_raisu Jan 14, 2008 10:06 AM

            thank you DD! Just the kind of stuff I am interested in...hibiscus, guava, tuna/jal!

            1. re: DiningDiva
              Alice Q Jan 14, 2008 10:08 AM

              I had a chance to spend some time on the floor yesterday after my tour and before the tasting event, and it was interesting. I sort of strolled one side yesterday, and will do the other side tomorrow before my last tour.

              The part that I looked at seemed like lots of packaged stuff - tea, cookies, pretzels, etc. Since I don't have a business to sell those things, that wasn't terribly interesting to me, but I understand there's a cheese pavilion and a few other vendors I'd like to check out. I saw Opera Patisserie though - stop by and say hi to them if you get a chance, it's one of the only local companies I saw represented.

              The tasting event last night was phenomenal. The chefs were all there, and the food was a definite cut above what you usually get at these things. They could have used more wine and beer vendors - I was also surprised they didn't go with more local companies, like Orfila, Stone, etc. Karl Strauss was the only one for beer. The wines appeared to be Italian, and the pours were a little short.

              I was asked by the NASFT to put together and conduct some tours for the show this weekend - it was a lot of work but turned out to be a lot of fun. On the local retailer tour yesterday (at Taste, where we did a beer and cheese tasting) the group was shocked to hear that San Diego is the microbrewery capital of the country - they were also uniformly impressed with what they saw overall. On Sunday we went to Northgate Gonzalez, Extraordinary Desserts, Bread and Cie, Taste and Eclipse Chocolat. Every one of the businesses just did a phenomenal job - on both tours.

              The photos and a post about Saturday's tour are already on my blog - www.aliceqfoodie.com It was about sustainable eating and we went to Linkery, La Milpa Farm, AR Valentien, and Waters in Solana Beach.

              On Tuesday evening, I'm doing a restaurant tasting tour for a small VIP group - we're going to Cafe Chloe, the Guild, Currant, Starlite, Bite and Urban Solace, staying 30 mins at each place and doing a quick tasting - should be fun!

              1. re: Alice Q
                Xiao Yang Jan 14, 2008 10:29 AM

                Do tell, on what basis was San Diego adjudged the microbrewery capital of the US?

                1. re: Xiao Yang
                  Alice Q Jan 14, 2008 10:59 AM

                  Those actually weren't my words, but if you're expressing skepticism, it's probably not far off - here's an article that is already 3 years old, and it's continued to grow from there.


                  1. re: Alice Q
                    Xiao Yang Jan 14, 2008 11:40 AM

                    Me sceptical? The article seems to bank on ratebeer.com, and according to its poll, San Diego seems to have been dethroned by Munster, Indiana.


                    1. re: Xiao Yang
                      menuinprogress Jan 14, 2008 12:19 PM

                      If you look a little closer at the link you posted, you will find that 4 of the top 10 beers listed there are from in and around San Diego.

                      1. re: menuinprogress
                        Xiao Yang Jan 14, 2008 02:42 PM

                        That poll is highly subjective and peculiar, to say the least. Is it really possible that 18 of the 20 best beers in the US are Imperial Stouts or Barley Wines?

                        1. re: Xiao Yang
                          menuinprogress Jan 14, 2008 05:20 PM

                          > Is it really possible that 18 of the 20 best beers in the US
                          > are Imperial Stouts or Barley Wines?

                          That is apparently what the members of one of the most active craft beer rating sites think.

                          But back to the San Diego brewing scene, if you are looking for other corroboration, I've got my year-end issue of Beer Advocate sitting in front of me with their list for the top 25 American brewers. 4 of the top 5 are from San Diego.

                      2. re: Xiao Yang
                        Alice Q Jan 14, 2008 12:29 PM

                        Your response to my statement is sort of beside the point - which is - ironically, that most people are not aware of the fantastic local beer scene in San Diego. Apparently, you are included in that group!

                        1. re: Alice Q
                          Xiao Yang Jan 14, 2008 02:51 PM

                          There are a lot of great local beer scenes around the US. I was responding to your relaying of the claim that "San Diego is the microbrewery capital of the country" and wondering what substantiation whoever whispered it in your ear had to offer.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang
                            Josh Jan 15, 2008 08:34 AM

                            Hi Xiao,

                            I pretty much agree with you, here, for the most part. I think it'd be pretty hard to single out any particular region in the US as microbrewery capital. There's a lot of great beer being made right now in the US, all over the country.

                            San Diego, though, is home to producers who have won large numbers of medals at World Beer Cup and GABF, in addition to earning consistently high rankings on sites like RateBeer and Beer Advocate.

                            The truth is that some of the brewers in San Diego, or with origins in San Diego, have done things that few American microbrewers have done. Tomme Arthur, for example, the brewmaster for Lost Abbey, makes Belgian-style ales that are so good he's done collaborations with Belgian brewers, and produced special releases for Michael Jackson's beer club.

                            If you're coming here for the FFS, I'd suggest making some time for a trip to Pizza Port in Solana Beach or Carlsbad. That will give you some exposure to San Diego's impressive selection of craft brews.

                            If you don't have time for that, seek out Lost Abbey, Ballast Point, Port Brewing, Stone, and AleSmith bottles. Whole Foods carries all five of these. Some good examples to try:

                            Lost Abbey - Lost and Found, Avant Garde, Red Barn Ale, 10 Commandments
                            AleSmith - Wee Heavy, Speedway Stout, Anvil ESB, IPA
                            Ballast Point - Dorado, Big Eye, Black Marlin, Sea Monster
                            Stone - Russian Imperial Stout, Smoked Porter, IPA, Levitation
                            Port Brewing - Hop 15, Wipeout, Old Viscosity

                            If you're staying in the downtown area, a trip to Downtown Johnny Brown's or The Local Eatery will allow you to sample beer from Alpine Brewing and possibly Lightning Brewing, both top-notch local breweries whose beer is mainly available only on draught.

                            San Diego's brewing scene is highly regarded around the world. It's no coincidence that the World Beer Cup will be hosted here this year.

                            1. re: Josh
                              Xiao Yang Jan 15, 2008 09:20 AM

                              Well, Josh, the ugly truth is that my medical regimen limits me to about two beers a day (and just imagine, a bistro serving a dozen Belgian draft beers and about 100 Belgian bottled beers just opened 300 yards from my home!). I'm also iffy about the FFS even when it's here in SF; I'm not sure it's worth the admission price let alone airfare and hotel costs.

                              I'm not being hostile to San Diego, just curious; I've been drinking craft beers ever since New Albion's days and I've had the impression that the center of beer gravity (as it were) had shifted north, not south, from Sonoma.

                              Thanks for the tips, but I'll save San Diego for a fish taco binge, under the circumstances.

                              1. re: Xiao Yang
                                Josh Jan 15, 2008 10:22 AM

                                The Pacific Northwest was arguably the center of craft brewing once upon a time, but that's definitely not the case any longer. It's all over the place, with great beers made in most every corner of the US. San Diego has definitely become a serious beer mecca, though.

                            2. re: Xiao Yang
                              mimosa Jan 17, 2008 03:14 PM

                              Being the "whisperer" in Alice Q's ear, I'll happily respond. San Diego has overtaken the Pacific Northwest and every other region in the country, by a wide margin. One only need taste the great craft beers coming from this area to judge for themselves. But if one needs "authoritative" evidence, The major international brewer's organization (name escapes me, I'm not a brewer, just a cheese mongrel, but I can easily get it for you if you like) rated the WORLD'S best breweries, and San Diego had 3 place in the top ten...Stone, Alesmith, and Port. Not a specific beer, mind you, but overall performance of the brewery. For the past 3 or 4 years, San Diego has been known as a brewing capital internationally, but few here are even aware of that. But don't take my word...do the research. It's easy to find.

                              1. re: mimosa
                                Josh Jan 17, 2008 03:41 PM

                                Hey mimosa, I'm as much a cheerleader for San Diego as anybody, but the Northeast is producing some seriously stellar beers. Six Point in Brooklyn makes some incredible stuff, you just don't know it because we don't get it out here. Brooklyn Brewery, Weyerbacher, Smuttynose, Victory, Dogfish Head and Allagash are some serious contenders when it comes to quality craft brew.

                                I know there are some great beers made here, but I've had great craft brew in every part of the US I've visited. Even Texas.

                                1. re: Josh
                                  Alice Q Jan 17, 2008 06:07 PM

                                  This seems like a tempest in a teapot to me - we're definitely A brewing capital, if not THE brewing capital. That's good enough for me.

                                  1. re: Alice Q
                                    Josh Jan 18, 2008 08:51 AM

                                    Like most things food related, people get passionate about their favorites. Factor in the sense of local pride, and you've got all the makings of a heated, yet friendly, discussion.

                                    San Diego is clearly one of the premier brewing hotspots in the US, and the world, but there are so many places that have a much older brewing tradition, and many more small breweries.

                                    If you are really interested in the subject of beer, I'd suggest doing some research. It's pretty fascinating, at least to me.

                      3. re: Xiao Yang
                        DiningDiva Jan 14, 2008 11:41 AM

                        Um..in part, all the awards they've won, the creativity and quality of the products and the number of local brewers.

                        1. re: Xiao Yang
                          kare_raisu Jan 14, 2008 11:48 AM

                          Josh chime in!

                        2. re: Alice Q
                          leanneabe Jan 14, 2008 10:34 AM

                          We stopped at Opera Patisserie... they said they've received their permits and hope to open in March or April. I sampled the macaron they had out and was very happy.

                          Chuao was also there sampling Chocopods (yum); Brandt Beef was doing samples of brisket (they must have such happy cows). Straus was also present and they were very friendly.

                          It seemed like every few aisles there was a cheese booth, but the American Cheese Society certainly had a lot of winners. Lots of goat cheese, lots of fresh mozzarella.

                          1. re: leanneabe
                            Alice Q Jan 14, 2008 11:16 AM

                            I must have gone the wrong direction yesterday, cause I missed all that stuff. I was real picky about what I put in my mouth yesterday, I even skipped some of the samples at the restaurants on the tours, since I've been there before. I did drink the beer and eat the chocolate though!

                            1. re: Alice Q
                              leanneabe Jan 14, 2008 12:07 PM

                              We started at the cheese (5700 aisle) and went up and down every single aisle from there. Around Italy (or Spain) I was getting tired and anything after aisle 1500 I don't really remember. Except Stubbs BBQ sauce, mainly because it was our last stop.

                              I wish I had time to go back!

                          2. re: Alice Q
                            DiningDiva Jan 14, 2008 11:39 AM

                            There are actually quite a few SD area companies represented. I was on the north side of the building yesterday and ran across several local booths. You have to kind of look for local connections, but they are there.

                            1. re: DiningDiva
                              Alice Q Jan 14, 2008 12:32 PM

                              Cool, I will check it out further on Tues. I was pretty exhausted by the time I got in there yesterday.

                              1. re: Alice Q
                                DiningDiva Jan 14, 2008 01:07 PM

                                I kind of wish NASFT would consider SD as a semi-permanent location for th e FFS. I've attended SF multiple times and loved every minute of it. But... in SD it's bigger (more vendors), the aisles are wider making it easier to circulate and get closer to the booths and, of course we provided out pattened weather perfection. And for me, getting there was a breeze on the trolley, even from the East County.

                                1. re: DiningDiva
                                  cstr Jan 14, 2008 02:37 PM

                                  DD that would be great but, I think the larger issue for NASFT is a 'mainstream' location for this event. SF, NY et al are more leading edge for food and restaurants than SD, thus more market draw and more interest to attend in that type of market arena. Keep hoping, maybe someday.. just maybe.

                                  1. re: cstr
                                    DiningDiva Jan 14, 2008 04:06 PM

                                    Oh, I agree completely about SF and NYC. I think the reasons they locate it in those 2 cities are very valid. Plus for vendors it's easy to plan and attend on a regular basis if you know well in advance where it's going to be. A small organization to which I belong puts hosts a small conference every 12-18 months and we're discussing the merits of selecting a permanent location instead of moving about the country. But every 3rd or 4th year it would be nice to see it in SD <sigh>

                            2. re: Alice Q
                              Alice Q Jan 14, 2008 10:27 PM

                              In case anyone's interested, here are links to the photos from the tours we put on Sat. and Sun for the FFS attendees, showing where we took them, etc. I forgot to take pictures at Bread an Cie, and at Taste I was too busy helping pour beer and pass out cheese, but I took some at every other stop.

                              The Retailer Tour on Sunday -

                              The Sustainable Eating Tour on Saturday -

                        3. toodie jane Jan 8, 2008 08:10 AM

                          Apart from trying to familiarize yourself with the layout, highlighting known quantities you want to inspect closer, and good shoes, I'll pass along something I saw:

                          a pair of buyers, one with a small tape recorder, the other with a tablet and pen, cruising the booths with eagle eyes, not being distracted by samples or sales pitches, speaking into the recorder: "tins of mints, outside table, boxes of caramels in brown wrap with satin ribbon inner table booth 231, (next booth) crackers boxed in chinese takeout boxes booth 245" etc. The pen and paper were for random notes about merchandise and vendors.

                          These two whizzed down the aisles, and were seen later in the day, back at some of the booths doing sampling and getting the nitty gritty, doing actual ordering. I assume they were veterans, and were past the point of being in awe. I think the scale of the show is just overwhelming if you haven't been before.

                          I would say go in expecting to be awed, overwhelmed and sorry that you couldn't taste or see everything. Then just enjoy it for what it is. Give appreciative feedback on packaging or taste. And be nice to the vendors. Some buyers/attendees show dreadful manners; you'll see what I mean....

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: toodie jane
                            Xiao Yang Jan 8, 2008 09:29 AM

                            Re your last point, I've noticed that as you walk down the aisle most of the vendor representatives have their eyes focused on your badge, trying to read it and decide if you are worth giving face time to. I may be paranoid, but I feel I get a lot of cold shoulders because of my media badge revealing I'm just a blogger they've never heard of. But at least I get to know the truly friendly vendor reps.

                            1. re: Xiao Yang
                              LisaSD Jan 9, 2008 02:02 PM

                              Who is allowed to attend this show? Also, Xiao, as a blogger you got a media pass?

                              1. re: LisaSD
                                DiningDiva Jan 9, 2008 02:34 PM

                                Lisa, the Fancy Food show is put on by specialty retailers marketing associations. It's basically a trade show catering to the food and retail food/gift industries. The types of people that attend are usually owners, buyers (lots and lot of buyers), Directors, GMs, chefs, hoteliers, caterers, bakers, retail business owners, etc. When registering you are required to provide information about your industry employment, i.e. title, who you work for and if you have purchasing authority or not. It is possible to register at the event, but it does cost more. Here's the link for more information - http://www.specialtyfood.com/do/fancy...

                              2. re: Xiao Yang
                                toodie jane Jan 9, 2008 03:01 PM

                                re: Xiao Yang

                                This is true at ANY kind of trade show, and it makes sense. The vendors need to know if you have the capacity to buy or deal, or are "just looking". If things are hopping, they need to spend their time and attention wisely. Some shows use color coding to make it easier. If things are slow, reps will have time to answer questions, etc. if they are friendly. But it's hard work, long hours standing in one place, little if any breaktime, etc. That's why I mentioned "be nice"....

                                1. re: toodie jane
                                  Xiao Yang Jan 9, 2008 08:12 PM

                                  On the other hand, a media person (not me, for sure) might ultimately have a greater impact on a company's fortunes than any single customer by spotlighting a product. If my badge had read "San Francisco Chronicle" instead of naming an obscure website, I'm sure I would have had some warm receptions.

                                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                                    toodie jane Jan 10, 2008 10:48 AM

                                    I would think the big media guns would get the same amount of attention, with perhaps a bit more of the schmooze factor. The well-known writers are probably known by sight by the regulars, as are big retail buyers.

                                    1. re: toodie jane
                                      Xiao Yang Jan 11, 2008 12:09 PM

                                      I'm noso sure about that. There are very few of the local print media heavies I woild recognize on sight, (although I would recognize names on name-tags if I could see as well as I did when I was younger) and we are talking about out of town vendors, by and large. I also wonder too, how many of the vendors send their top guns. I've seen few heads of companies there (Gary Guittard is a notable exception) and the big salesfolk often are busy with accounts elsewhere, or just bored (been there, done that) and dole out attendance slots to eager-beaver proteges.

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                                        Captain Jack Jan 12, 2008 02:38 PM

                                        I purchased my admission credentials yesterday, and plan to attend Monday and Tuesday. Any other hounds planning to attend? If so, have you found any do not miss exhibitors on the list? A few I spotted are:

                                        Urbani Tartufi (Truffles)
                                        Alexian Pates (all natural pates, mousses and terrines).
                                        Charcuterie la tour eiffel
                                        Il Mulino New York (One of my favorite NY Italian Restaurants).
                                        Marky's (Caviar)
                                        Rougie (Foie Gras)

                                        1. re: Captain Jack
                                          DiningDiva Jan 12, 2008 03:33 PM

                                          I will be there tomorrow and Tuesday, perhaps Monday evening. I'm doing a couple of the educational workshops tomorrow afternoon (Slow Food and Olive Oil) and probably attending the media event put on by some of the Italian olive oil vendors.

                                          I haven't really taken a detailed look at the exhibitor list yet, I've been to so many food trade shows over the years. I like the element of surprise of finding something unexpected be it an exhibitor I may know or a new product. Not knowing who will be exhibiting and what I might see and taste kind of lets me be like the perpetual kid in the candy store.

                                          1. re: Captain Jack
                                            Snackish Jan 13, 2008 09:20 PM

                                            Do not miss:
                                            Dry Soda
                                            Vignette Soda
                                            Roth Kase (in fact, the whole American cheese society pavilion) esp for their Buttemilk Blue Affinee
                                            Mozzarella Company (Paula Lambert)
                                            Acetaia Terra del Tuono (10 yr old Balsamic and Pear Balsamic)
                                            Consorzio ARPAS Sardinian Creamy Pecorino Romano - this was the best thing I tasted all day.

                                            Good luck, have fun! If you get overwhelmed, go upstairs on the elevator, tell the security guards you are headed to the veranda (in the back of the building) where there are tables, chairs and umbrellas with a nice ocean view).

                              3. c
                                cmvan Jan 7, 2008 09:10 PM

                                The show should return to San Francisco next year. The only reason it was moved was because the Moscone Center is undergoing retro-fitting or something like that. You'd think they'd wait until after one of their biggest shows/events...

                                I can tell you that the purveyors who showed there last year were pretty angry about it (I was among their ranks), and many were saying that they wouldn't be participating until it returns. This was mostly coming from the more artisan-level producers, such as my own employer, who can't afford the trip or the time away from their farms.

                                As for how to maneuver, I just started at the far side and worked my way down each subsequent aisle, making note of any stall I wanted to double-check.

                                Have fun, and wear the most comfy shoes you've got.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: cmvan
                                  Alice Q Jan 7, 2008 09:13 PM

                                  It's my understanding that it is held in different cities every few years for different reasons. This year's show is actually expected to be bigger than last year's, and we're looking forward to hosting it here in San Diego. I think visitors will be pleasantly surprised by what they find available here.

                                  1. re: cmvan
                                    rednails Jan 8, 2008 01:33 PM

                                    No retro-fitting or renovation at Moscone. The dates normally taken by IFFCS weren't available.

                                    1. re: rednails
                                      laloca Jan 8, 2008 04:12 PM

                                      Macworld took those dates this year.

                                      1. re: laloca
                                        rednails Jan 9, 2008 08:56 AM

                                        Yep and then the Gift Fair righ after. A double-whammy for fancy food. Contrary to what was published, internally they weren't happy.

                                  2. w
                                    waldrons Jan 7, 2008 07:39 PM

                                    I usually take a few minutes before entering to review the floor plan map in the show catalog, highlighting any "must visits". Then en route to those, I cruise by the other booths. Next time they're in SF, I'm going to plan a 2-day visit, as I just can't spend more than 2-3 hours at a time without ending up stuffed, sick and exhausted!


                                    1. nancyhudson Jan 7, 2008 07:04 PM

                                      I've been to this show a few times both in SF and NYC. It is overwhelming, to say the least. I honestly can't coment on the best way to attack the floor - vendors are spread out all over the place in lots of halls, and there is a lot of ground to cover. If you're looking for something in particular, I'd map out where the vendors are that you definitely want to visit and tackle those first. It costs a lot to participate in this show as a vendor, so there are a lot of specialty food gems that can't attend. What I'm saying is that you're not necessarily seeing the best of what's out there.

                                      As far as samples, I brought A LOT home on the last day, without any problems at all.

                                      I'm really shocked that the show has been moved to San Diego from SF. Not that my opinion matters!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: nancyhudson
                                        Xiao Yang Jan 7, 2008 07:34 PM

                                        It'll return to SF in 2009. NASFT presents their rationale for the occasional move on their website:


                                      2. Xiao Yang Jan 7, 2008 06:36 PM

                                        They give you transparent bags for all the literature, etc. and I've seen them confiscate and empty ones that were full of samples at the exits. I don't personally recall them searching backpacks; I usually carry a bookbag or small messenger bag and haven't been searched. A bulging backpack might look suspicious, though. My only act of larceny has been to put some of the stuff in my pockets, which I doubt they will search.

                                        The generosity varies by vendor. Last year I was given a good-sized bottle of Nando's Piri Piri sauce because I happened to mention off-handedly that I liked the Nando's Chicken chain. Other places won't take a broad hint.

                                        I recommend two passes through the whole event, spread over two days if necessary (unless you are an avid walker, it will be necesary). The first time exercise restraint, sampling only what you absoliutely can't resist and develop a plan of attack for the second pass. if you have no self control, you can start from the opposite end on the second day. Keep in mind that a high percentage of stuff available for sampling will not be particularly chowish, and forget about sampling every flavor of every snack cracker, etc.

                                        1. DiningDiva Jan 7, 2008 02:37 PM

                                          I agree with a lot of what Rednails said. It's a very large show and it can be a bit overwhelming, particularly if you aren't used to attending food shows. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

                                          A strategy that has worked reasonably well for me over the years is to walk the show once to get a general overview of what's being shown. I make notes about booths and/or specific products I'm interested in and then go back later. This may not work for you if you've only got 1 day. I've also learned to be picky about what I taste. A lot of little tastes of lots of little things can quickly add up to too much.

                                          This is one of may favorite shows. It's fun and a little quirky. I'm really looking forward to it and am so gald it's in SD this year.

                                          1. r
                                            rednails Jan 7, 2008 01:48 PM

                                            IFFCS is extremely large, and the vendors are not necessarily arranged by product type, so visiting all chocolate vendors at once is not really a good plan, unless you only go to see one type of product. There is a focused tasting room, where they pick 3 items, and you can taste all items submitted in those categories (but those may not be what you want to taste). There are also the "pavilions" (specific aisles in the exhibit hall) dedicated to each country, but those booths are very small. I think if you go up and down each aisle, you'll see everything, but it's up to you to pace yourself and decide what to taste (or not). Take lots of notes, get all the spec sheets and leave your contact info with everyone you are interested in. Don't waste too much time w/vendors you already know, just make it an update kind of stop.

                                            As for sampling, they do enforce the rule, but I'll also tell you that on the last day of the show, you can get lots of samples right before the show closes. At least they didn't enforce it last year, and I saw many, many people leaving w/cases of product. Most vendors don't want to ship any product back, so they either give it away or donate it to the local food bank, as arranged thru show mgmt.

                                            Bottom line--go hungry, and enjoy yourself!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: rednails
                                              boozemonkey Jan 7, 2008 03:29 PM

                                              I've been to the show a few times (not happy about it being moved from San Francisco I can tell you) DiningDiva is absolutely right about it being overwhelming. Things I would recommend:

                                              - Walk the floor as rednails suggests. The first time I went I stopped at pretty much every booth and found myself fairly full within a couple of hours. If anything really grabs your attention stop for a taste and make a note to come back. This helps especially as often times you have to jockey to talk to vendors who are scrambling to set up deals with everybody.

                                              - Leave the cheese for later. This my just be something for me as I have a thing for cheese that borders on pathological, but there are a number of quite well stocked cheese vendors which lured me in quickly and left me feeling like I had eaten 13 pounds of cheese before noon. Which I had.

                                              - Don't fall for the charms of the booze booths. Another first day mistake I made was sampling the various wines and beers that were at the show a wee bit too early. I didn't get drunk by any means, but had to fight the urge to just go lie down for a while. Those booths are very much worth visiting, just a little later in the day. 'Bout the time you're hitting the cheese perhaps?

                                              - Hit the outer edges of the show. The big names (big spenders) will all be located in the central parts of floor, however if you take the time to walk by the far flung edges of the show you will almost certainly find some gems. It's pretty easy to cruse those parts as there are also a lot of booths that you will be able to pass by pretty easily. That part of the show may be what you want to hit first as it goes quick and is a good area of the floor to take notes for returning to when the more popular booths get more crowded.

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