2008 Fancy Food Show
I look forward to this every year. Yes, it has its critics but the sheer size of the event guarantees some pleasant surprises. It's become a tradition for a friend and myself, we wouldn't miss it.
I get a real kick out of the European vendors who sit scowling at their tables, with all their packaged products unopened and unavailable for sampling. Their companies must spend thousands (tens of thousands?) of $$ to exhibit. Do the bosses know that their representatives sit drinking coffee, chatting with the other vendors and completely ignoring the attendees? Walk thru the France and Italy sections and you'll see what I mean.
Or the fenced-off German section where it takes an act of God to get a cup of beer? I try to chat up the bartender across the fence and succeed less than 50% of the time. But the game is part of the fun.
One of the best features a few years ago was the wine/spirits sampling area in the basement. I think that lasted only one year.
It's also fun trying to figure out all the strange-looking items from Asia and the Middle East.
Olives, cheese, meat (D'Artagnan!), beer, wine, fruit sodas, hot sauce, salmon, ginger in every imaginable form, Jamaican coffee, Spanish pickled peppers and garlic, ham (ham and more ham), chocolate, etc., etc., It takes a truly jaded soul not to have a fun time at this event.
So anyone else going?
Actually it's only $35 for a 3-day pass (Sun-Tue). Anyone can register, just go to the website (www.specialtyfood.com) and fill out the form. Check off any of the categories, I promise there's no verification of your credentials/eligibility. As long as you pay the fee you're in.
In theory there's a cutoff date for the $35 vs. $60 price, but they keep extending it. I got an email that they've extended the $35 rate to Friday.
I have been 5 times and they do usually ask for business cards as verification. Also be prepared to talk to the vendors about your business and what you do..unless you plan on just sampling and running from the booths they will engage you in conversation.
Its a fun event and well worth going if you have a love of food. But there is a strong "industry" aspect to it that you should be prepared to deal with as well.
I've never had anyone ask to see a business card, and I've been about 10 times. If I'm picking up the pass at the door (the only option now, it's too late for them to be mailed), a printout of the confirmation email with barcode and my drivers license is all I've ever needed.
As for the industry aspect, all you have to say is you're planning to open a restaurant/retail shop/whatever. Some of the vendors may want to chat, all you need is a short answer, a smile and a "Thank You".
The reality is that 99% of people sampling from a vendor are just sampling. It's the nature of the beast.