I know it sounds like a GREAT gig, and it is. But normally, I cook (not eat) for a living.
Each year that I have the opportunity to attend one of the largest eat fests on the planet (otherwise known as The Fancy Food Show), I’m both excited and leery. Not everything at the business end of a fork, spoon or toothpick is worth sampling or losing your appetite over. This is especially true when you’re in New York City and there are SO many great restaurants to choose from at the end of the day.
What’s the Fancy Food Show?
The Fancy Food Show is North America’s largest collection of manufacturers and distributors from over 80 different countries, all vying for the attention of food buyers, and eventually, space in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer as well as on your dinner table.
Acres of booths and displays showcasing over 275,000 unique, innovative items compete for the attention of over 60 thousand attendees. There are colorful displays, tempting samples, and (usually) some pretty crazy theatrics. The makers and distributors of all of these foods are here to sample, make deals and sell.
It’s a virtual food carnival, complete with clowns and side shows.
Aside from someone dressed up as a monkey to hand out samples of peanuts, you’ll see countless aisles of cheeses; condiments; candies; pastries; and every canned, boxed, and packaged pantry ingredient you can imagine. You can also count on seeing some NEW category of product vying for everyone’s attention.
A few years ago, it was lifestyle waters, and then it was lifestyle teas, flavored potato chips and popcorns, vintage chocolates and coconut water. Last year, it was seaweed (everything), including crackers, wraps, beverages, and candies.
This year, it seemed to be nuts. I should have guessed it when I saw the FIRST monkey. There were seasoned nuts, such as toasted whole peanuts with curry and ginger as well as sesame-kinda nuts. You could also find wasabi teriyaki cashews, candied nuts, or powdered nut dust. You get the idea.
Thankfully, the kind folks at the Fancy Food Show go to work sifting through the hundreds of thousands of products that are displayed each year and offer awards to the very best of the best. Their sofi™ (specialty outstanding food innovation) Awards are given to the best products in various categories.
The finalists and winners of these prestigious awards proudly show off their gold or silver sofi statues (reminiscent of Oscars) at their displays, which makes narrowing down what you choose to sample a little easier if you look for these statues and trust their judgment.
Apparently, this year they went nuts.
Aside from the sampling of great foods and the carnival-like atmosphere of the Fancy Food Show, it’s the business deals in the aisles and booths that make or break the trip.
Who has the best products at the best prices? How much less will I pay if I buy more? What about shipping? Will you sample the product in our stores, so people can try it before they buy it?
At the end of the show, the take away is a full menu of new products to introduce to our customers at Nino’s and a whole lot of new ideas to digest.
At Nino’s, we never get our fill of great foods, so you can be assured we’ll return again next year to take another Big Bite (and hundreds of small samples) out of the Big Apple.