Wed 13 Jul 2011
All of my senses were engaged at The Summer Fancy Food Show this week in Washington DC. Bright displays, cooking aromas and high-profile, assertive spokespeople all competed for my attention. Produced by The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade this annual exposition presented 2,400 vendors and 180,000 products. Having this significant industry event in DC gave me a great chance to visit clients’ booths, see old friends, make new connections, and simply explore. Face-time, social networking the old-fashioned way, is still the best!
My client John Sorial of TaDah! Foods (at left in above photo), had the timely inspiration to hire Barack Obama impersonator Reggie Brown to present his product, TaDah! Wraps. Many people did genuinely mistake Brown for Obama (also accompanied by two “Secret Service officers”). John was a bit late arriving at the TaDah! booth for his scheduled event—while he escorted Brown along the Show floor, they were besieged with photo-opp requests. Like a circus parade, they collected a large crowd on the way to the TaDah! booth. Integrating his Obama routine with TaDah! product information, Brown noted that TaDah! Wraps’ fresh, natural ingredients align with the First Lady’s food- and-health initiatives. After his speech, “President Obama” obligingly posed for pictures with attendees at John’s booth.
The “Yes We Can” spirit also lives in TaDah!’s “Eat Good, Do Good” mission to donate 25%+ of profits to local non-governmental organizations. Their delicious falafel wraps are now available in Eastern US locations, including several DC-area Whole Foods stores. John Sorial always inspires me with his generosity, good ideas and good energy.
It was great to see Zoe Tsoukatos of Zoe’s Chocolate—and not only because she generously slipped me a whole bar of her dreamy dark chocolate with hazelnuts. She is a third-generation chocolatier, and it inspires me to see how she is reinventing her family’s business. I fell in love with Zoe’s story when I shot the signature images for her website. As her website explains, she’s combining “the spirit, skill, and tradition of fine artisan chocolate preparation with today’s flavors, trends and ingredients.” Order Zoe’s Chocolates online, or find them in her own stores and other US locations.
The Show featured attendees from 80 countries. I was pleased to see the familiar faces of my friends at the Meat & Livestock Australia booth. Keeping my eye out for them, I knew I was close when the mouth-watering smell of their hot, grilled lamb wafted to my nose! Linden Cowper, (above, at left, with me), is their Retail Business Development Manager. She was part of the team on their World of Flavor cookbook that I shot last year. Her usual upbeat warmth makes it a real pleasure to work with her and the MLA team, along with the DC agency, Levine & Associates. It was fun seeing my shots in their materials at the booth.
My photography for DC-area Gold Crust Baking Company, Inc. was a principle element of their large Show display. Well integrated with their appetizing, bounteous display of breads, my images as backdrops and video slideshows really took on a third dimension. The Gold Crust team, including owners Allen and Nausika Lyubinsky (above, center and right), are redesigning their website, which will feature my images of their entire product line.
There were food-world celebrities galore at the Show, including Rick Bayless, Lidia Bastianich and Cat Cora. But, while visiting the booth for Chronicle Books, I was excited to run into DC’s own Domenica Marchetti. A journalist and cookbook author, her latest work, The Glorious Pasta of Italy was published by Chronicle. This beautiful book has received much buzz and bears this lovely back-cover endorsement from Chef Michael Chiarello: “Domenica has captured the heart and soul of true Italian pasta.” To her fans’ delight, she actually brought along a very tasty pasta dish to share—and I was lucky enough to try some! Domenica was also a speaker at the Eat, Write, Retreat (EWR) food blogger conference where I taught food photography. I hope our paths continue to converge.
Also represented at EWR was La Querica artisan-cured meats. Although they didn’t attend EWR, La Quercia was a conference sponsor and generously supplied their products. So, it was a really nice surprise to actually meet La Quercia co-founder, Kathy Eckhouse at this Show. We used her silky prosciutto in my shots of food set-ups made by my photography workshop participants! I really enjoyed chatting with her and hope we’ll meet again.
One of the coolest things about a trade Show is meeting enthusiastic, emerging entrepreneurs. Some people who charmed me at this event were Uncle Bunk’s Condiments. Based in Sistersville, WV, they make “gourmet products based on old-time Appalachian recipes,” including pickles, relishes, rubs and other spice blends. They won a 2011 Silver sofi Award for their Hot Mustard Relish. Holding his award statuette is Larry Young, AKA Uncle Bunk. Sharing the booth and their family business, are his wife, Rose Marie (center) and their daughter, Stacey Young Kasun (left). I loved their amiable, down-to-earth openess—and the tangy kick of their relishes. I hope the Show brought them lots of business for even wider distribution. Order Uncle Bunk’s condiments online and find them in these stores.
The wonderful, final act for the Show was to give back to my community—literally! They very generously donated exhibitors’ remaining food to DC Central Kitchen (DCCK). According to DCCK, “The food recovered from the Fancy Food Show will be put to use in the more than 5,000 healthy meals that DC Central Kitchen prepares each day for local agencies. The Fancy Food Show recovery event is set to become the largest donation in the Kitchen’s history.”