A Southern Grace: excellent expo

April 29, 2008

excellent expo


The Global Food & Style Expo held two primary interests for me (one job-related, one not so much...):
1. Fancy Foods Show
2. culinary demonstration by the grill-master himself, Bobby Flay

The expo was held in Chicago. I've been to Chicago many times but never actually stepped foot outside the airport, so this was exciting for me. Chicago, home of two Rick Bayless restaurants, as well as Charlie Trotter's. Although those places are a bit out of my league, there's no shortage of appropriate and equally enticing restaurants scattered throughout the city. Oh, the possibilities! But I'll come back to that.

We only came for one day of the expo, and as fate would have it, it was the day of Bobby Flay's demonstration. This was my first time seeing a well-known chef live and in person, and it was great. He's super easy-going and amiable and you can't help but pay attention to his every word.

(I love those mirrors--you can see all the action, even from the back row where I was sitting...)

The dishes he prepared were relatively simple--grilled chicken with parsley-mint sauce and summer panzanella with grilled asparagus. Mr. Flay had no problem with people interrupting him with questions, and one woman even had the nerve to march up to the stage and request a taste of his finished bread salad. (I thought that was a bit rude myself, but to each her own.) I took a little video, so here's Bobby describing his latest book and new show:

The line for autographs was ridiculously long, so I skipped it. I just hovered around his table and took a picture or two. I felt slightly stalkerish and pathetic doing that, so the pictures aren't as great as I might've hoped. Whatever-- as long as my memory is still functioning correctly, who needs pictures?

The Fancy Foods Show was a wealth of tasty treats. There were desserts around every corner, and I'm not exaggerating:

Yes, there were glass panes protecting these goodies...

...but there were also samples.

Had there been no samples, there might've been a melee. Led by me.

The best thing I tasted (non-chocolate, of course) was this salsa:

Sweet and spicy and there are black beans involved. I bought some the minute I got back to NY.

Granted, neither chocolate nor salsa have anything to do with baby food or my purpose at the expo, but I had to take a little time for myself. Come on, I worked too. :)

The disappointing element of my trip was dinner. I had really hoped to eat somewhere trendy and well-known to Chicagoans. Alas, 'twas not meant to be. Our hotel was a 20-minute scary cab ride from downtown, and my fellow traveler didn't feel up to making the trek back for dinner. So, we went to the classy, high-quality restaurant attached to the hotel. (Did your sarcasm detector go off? It should've.) I won't reveal the name of the restaurant, but to give you an idea of its sophistication, here's part of the decor outside the door:


Take a look at some of what I had:

Chile-rubbed beef brochettes with corn relish and roasted red pepper sauce.
The relish and sauce were great. The beef? Chewy and rubbery and vile. Ick, I say. Ick. Fortunately, I had many tasty samples back in my room to make up for the unsatisfying dinner. Example: Cote d'Or dark chocolate, which I so kindly paused in devouring to photograph for any readers who might be elephant lovers or chocoholics:

All in all, it was an enjoyable trip. If nothing else, I brought back a few pounds of chocolate-induced fat and a new-found appreciation for Bobby Flay.


krysta said...

That cow outside should have warned you about the tough beef. Get it?! Cow with boxing gloves...

*leaving now...

Anonymous said...

Aren't the Chicago cows cute as can be? So sorry you had a bad meal, I have eaten nothing but the best in my favorite city. Love the cold!!! Lucky you going to the food show,and seeing a demo by Bobby Flay.

Anonymous said...

i'd love to go. i'd try all the samples and maybe strategically put some in my bag.

Anonymous said...

rosa mexicano is a restaurant in nyc. .. just thought you might like to know.


oh, and that cow is just hideous.

Geggie said...

I love, love, love the fancy food show.

Interestingly, you and I attend some of the same trade shows, even though we're in different industries.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there are fancy food shows? Have I been under a rock?

Love the cow, you are one classy gal...thank gawd the cow had hoove coverings on otherwise you would have been slummin it.

Anonymous said...

What a fun visit! From Bobby Flay to Pomegranate-Black Bean Salsa!

Kathy said...

He is easy to look at, isn't he? And chocolate too!!!

test it comm said...

Sounds like a fun expo! That pomegranate salsa sounds really interesting!

amycaseycooks said...

I have only been to the Fancy Foods show once. What a great experience - I could spend endless hours there.

Pixie said...

haha grace about the restaurant lol

glad you had a great time!

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Glad you had a good time Grace! I hate watching demos with those upside down/slanted mirrors though. I say - large screen projection!

giz said...

Now that sounded like "almost" the perfect day to me - minus the rubbery beef dinner. I don't even come close to understanding how Bobby Flay gets the energy he has to do everything he does. He's amazing. Great shots and at the end of the day feeling like a stalker is only temporary given the long lasting memories you captured on film.

Elle said...

I would love to go to an Expo like that! And I snorted and laughed out loud at the cow. hehehe!!

Emily said...

WOW!!!! BOBBY FLAY!!!!!!!
I am so impressed! That's amazing. I can't believe you got all of those pictures and that video. I love him.

All of the desserts look yummm.

Sorry about the restaurant. Chewy meat is no good.

LyB said...

Mmmmm, samples... Mmmmmm, Bobby Flay... :)