Review: 2010 CRFA Show


I've been meaning to sit down and write this post for awhile, but life (mostly work) got in the way.  Don't you hate when that happens? Yeah, I know. 

Anyways, here it is.  My review on the 2010 CRFA (Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association) Show held last weekend at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto from March 7-9 2010.  Now for those of you who’ve never heard of the CRFA trade show, it’s basically the big kahuna of trade shows when it comes to anything in the food service/restaurant industry.  Tickets for the event were $30 the day of or $20 for pre-ordering online.  

Anything imaginable about running a restaurant from the food to the supplies, equipment, advertising etc… could be found at this show.  There were vendors among vendors on everything surrounding this industry.  Aside from the food vendors, there were exhibitors for uniforms, sanitation, security, publishing, drive thru equipment, china, furniture, and the list goes on... To emphasize the breadth and depth of the show, there were five booths on footwear alone (because we all know how important it is to keep our feet comfortable if we're standing/cooking/serving all day.  I was a me, your feet take a beating!)  

And since I have a food blog and because I grew up in the restaurant industry I thought I would attend to check it out.  (A big thank you goes out to Prasanthi for arranging a pass to attend the show!)

I always find trade shows to be a little overwhelming especially when considering the sheer size of the venue and all the people milling around.  This show was no exception.  It was huge! There were 1200 exhibitor booths this year and 12,000 industry professionals.  If you plan on attending next year, be sure to schedule at least 3 hours if you want to take it all in.  It’s definitely an experience to say the least. 

When it comes to food, we first feast with our eyes.  I’m now going through all my pictures taken at the show and the flood of flavors is all coming back to me.  The biggest perk of attending the show is the bevy of samples to be had.  (And by bevy I really mean a buffet… )  I’ll just let some of the pictures do the talking:

I made you hungry.  Sorry.

Be sure to arrive on an empty stomach next year.  In addition to the likes of the above, there was a lot of meat sampling (pulled pork, pulled beef, wings, crab cakes, prosciutto etc…) smoothie and tea samples, plenty of cheese and dairy products in general, lots of olive oils and tons and tons and tons of cake and gelato.  On top of that, there were plenty of ethnic vendors offering up their samples of dumplings, noodles, sauces etc…

Yes, it was truly a food lovers paradise especially if you have a sweet tooth and I’m sure everyone who attended found it pretty easy to overindulge.  My stomach was feeling the repercussions as I was leaving.  You literally had to roll me out of the there. 

But food aside, there’s a lot to be learned at the show and it’s a prime opportunity to talk with industry professionals who are so passionate about food.  Did you know that that only difference between brie and camembert cheese is 5 degrees during the ripening process? The show also had a full schedule of seminars and demonstrations like a cooking demo with Susur Lee and seminars on economic forecasting, foodservice trends, maximizing profitability, and customer service.  A couple of them sound really interesting and next year I’m going to make it a point to check some of these out.  There is so much to see/do at this show that you may need to schedule two days to fit it all in. 

To close, I’m going to highlight some of my favorites from the show.  You may be surprised to hear that among the sticky toffee pudding, baklava, cheesecake, truffles, etc… my favorite treat was more on the healthy side.   
Pomegranate frozen yogurt! 
The perfect amount of tartness to balance the sweetness/creaminess of the vanilla. 

Second runner up was cous cous and spinach (no picture).  I kid you not.  Among all the carbs and sugar it most have stood out like a sore thumb.  But it was so fresh and flavorful that I could have eaten a giant bowl of the stuff.  

Third runner up was mousse.  They had little samples on spoons that you could just pick up and stick in your mouth.   Thick, creamy perfection.  

Now, I’m all about healthy eating but when it comes to attending a food show honestly, I think it’s best to leave those little carb free, fat free, sugar free thoughts aside for a couple hours and enjoy your time there. 

A little tiramisu never did hurt anyone right?


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