Over the past several years, I’ve cultivated a network of Research Chefs Association and Institute of Food Technologist professionals. When I first attended expos and trade shows, I knew nobody, and I wandered around and chatted with strangers to get to know why they attended the expo and their objectives. I also attended first-time attendee events and other networking social hours. Eventually, I started to recognize vendors, representatives, and attendees.
I caught up with four RCA and IFT members at this past weekend’s IBIE conference, a unique show in that it only occurs every 3 years. This year was nearly 20% larger than the 2013 show, and it covered 700,000 sq feet of show room space. Divided into two very large halls, the conference was so large that attendees expected to walk quite a distance if they expected to cover the entire floor.
Since we were all dashing in different directions for the show, we grabbed just a few minutes to introduce ourselves and to share some tips that we have learned from attending the shows. It’s not long enough for a podcast episode, so I figured I would share it with you here.
The guests in the clip are
Culinologist Katherine Langel
Executive Chef Kevin Cabrera (and he was celebrating his birthday in Las Vegas!)
The IBIE show was different from others because large food production equipment was featured heavily. From extra large stand mixers – think of the largest bakeshop mixers and then double them several times – to ribbon blenders that could probably fit my Mini Cooper, the capacity of the equipment was breath-taking. The conveyor belts, elevators, and dough rounders were amazing, and it felt like walking inside a Rube Goldberg machine!
I even learned how egg roll cookies are made! Deposits of batter are picked up by really hot rollers that instantly fry-bake them, and they’re rolled off the heated rollers onto another stick to harden. Sort of like a rotating crepe that hardens into a cookie.
There were cooking presentations, competitions, and lectures. In fact, Culinex
presented some of their research later in the show weekend. I didn’t get to hear it, but I heard it went well!
No good food event is complete without a pastry competition, either. Here are some pastry chefs working their craft.
The pizza competition was arguably my favorite of them all – after the judges assessed the presentations, the pies were served to the competition attendees. The chefs that won the competition would compete internationally (presumably) in the pizza world championships for team USA.
My final thoughts: don’t eat all the samples offered, and don’t eat all of the sample you pick up (one bite will be enough). Drink more water than you think you need, wash your hands every hour (nobody actually does this), and don’t plan meetings on every single day – give yourself time to walk the floor. You never know who you’ll meet!