Every year in the first week of March, a band of brothers and sisters descend upon New York City’s Javits Center to exchange ideas on service, food, craftsmanship, passion and more. It lasts for three days and culminates in a national pastry competition. It’s the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York, also known as the New York Restaurant Show. In short, it’s awesome!
My journey to the Restaurant Show was long—a year to be exact. I saw post coverage of the event in – 2013 and immediately put it on my calendar for 2014. When that notification came up in my calendar, I was raring to go. Having been to the Javitz Center for the Toy Fair, Wine Expo and boat and car shows, I knew I needed to get my most comfortable shoes on and be prepared to walk. I was excited to see and taste and interact with all the show had to offer.
As I entered the Javitz Center, I was momentarily dazzled by the lights of the annual Travel Expo but quickly regained my focus, registered and entered the Restaurant Show. Now, how to attack? I would start at the left side and wind my way up and down the aisles like in a supermarket until I reached the right side.
My modus operandi was good, as the left side housed the 25th annual U.S. Pastry Competition with the most elaborate showpieces. I took it all in while sampling some gelato. It was like having dessert before dinner.
I moved on through the aisles, seeing everything under the sun one would need to open a restaurant or eatery, from equipment to furniture, lighting and sound systems, and manufacturing. It was a one-stop shop where you could make connections, strike deals and get discounts.
Thank goodness for the food oases intermittently dispersed among the non-food vendors. I loved stopping by Kettle Cuisine (@KettleCuisine) for a smorgasbord of their small-batch handcrafted soups they supply to restaurants and stores. Their list is endless, but it’s safe to say I enjoyed all of the ones I tried, including the Caribbean jerk chicken, coconut curry chicken, roasted corn and poblano and Thai chicken with red curry. I could have stayed for the rest of the day.
Right next to Kettle Cusine were the good people of Borax (@BoraxPaper). Amongst the battery of environmentally friendly packaging and service ware they produce was one of my favorite products I discovered last summer. It’s called My Drap (@buymydrap). It is a roll of various types of table linens that can be washed and reused up to six times. They come in great colors and are perfect for entertaining. Based in the Bronx, Borax Paper continues to be an innovator while supporting the economic development of local small businesses.
Once I finally made it to the right side of the hall, I realized my stops for gelato, soups, baked goods, the deliciously sweet and smoky fish from the Honey Smoked Fish(@HoneySmokedFish) and some sugarcane ginger lime juice made en minute by juice machine manufacturers were only the appetizers for a food coma. The right side of the hall housed the Food Trends Experience, the Pride of New York/Taste NY and the Japan Pavilion, as well as the cooking demonstration area. There was so much to hear, see and taste just in that part of the room.
While there were many brands I’ve heard of before, I was happy to find Found (@foundtweets), a natural, eco-friendly beverage company. Their product, more than ever, is what it says it is. Their pomegranate juice is the juice of three pomegranates. Done! Their uniquely flavored sparkling waters are flavored with natural beet sugars. I loved the elderflower and the cucumber mint.
The red-carpeted Japan Pavilion housed everything you wanted to know about all things Japan, from gorgeous wagyu beef to myriad sakes and all of the umami-ness in between. Especially of interest was the ramen. There, you were able to see all of the types of ramen noodles and sample a bowl of some wicked good ramen.
I wish I had more time to spend at the Restaurant Show this year, but I am happy for the experience. I will certainly return next year to uncover more, make new connections and taste what is happening inside the international restaurant world.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook at SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.