Recap of 76th Annual Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo

Thousands of restaurant and foodservice industry professionals enjoyed three days of tasting new products, meeting with new vendors and attending education programs offering new concepts at the 76th annual Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo which was held at the Anaheim Convention Center, August 12-14, 2012.   The event was sponsored by the California Restaurant Association, a partner of the National Restaurant Association.

“This year’s event was amazing, and we thank our exhibitors, our attendees, our speakers, and the California Restaurant Association. The event is more than a tradeshow; it is a complete learning experience that improves our attendees business throughout the year.” said Ron Mathews, Industry Vice President for Reed Exhibitions’ Foodservice Events.”Anaheim was a terrific venue. The event offered a dynamic meeting place with top education, thousands of products, networking opportunities, culinary demonstrations and more.”

Many exhibitors commented that the turnout and lead quality was excellent. Bradley Mark, FogBusters, said “We’ve had a huge boost for our business. Not only have we made some direct sales, but we’ve collected over 200 leads.” Melissa and Nick Stanton, CakePop Creations, commented, “The show has been great for us. The quality of leads has been outstanding. We’ve gotten offers from Sysco, Disney and some of the hotels. It was our first food show and it’s definitely been a great success.” Paul, Raaw Foods International also said, “As a small company that’s trying to be a bigger fish in the pond, this has been a wonderful experience. I am extraordinarily pleased with the turnout and response.”

Highlights of the event, included:
One of the highlights of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo was the CRA Educational Foundation Culinary Clash: Battle Anaheim, where eight restaurants participated in a competition and fundraiser aimed at raising scholarship money for students interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts and hospitality field. In only 45 minutes, each restaurant’s teams consisting of a corporate chef, an executive and a student were asked to cook an amuse-bouche, a small appetizer that can be eaten in a few bites, and an entree, all while incorporating a Coca-Cola product. Daily Grill in Los Angeles took the prize for best use of a Coca-Cola product and for the best presentation and overall taste. Yard House Restaurants won the award for most money raised for the foundation. The $43,000 raised will go to the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, which awards college scholarships and developed the ProStart program that is offered in 80 California high schools.

A Hot Spot on the show floor was the new Food Trends Experience. Thousands of restaurant and foodservice professionals had the opportunity to see, taste, discover and learn about the new culinary innovations from 50 companies that will inspire creative and fresh menu ideas. The design and grouping of these new brands and unique foods created an intimate environment where buyers and sellers could connect face to face on how these foods can impact menus. Food Trends Experience added over 50 new food companies to the exhibit floor and created an atmosphere supporting distributor buyers, restaurant buyers, and all commercial foodservice buyers.

The Winners of the People’s Choice Awards for the Innovative New Product Gallery were announced during the Show. Attendees voted for their favorite products. The first place winner was Edibles by Jack for The Edible Asian Spoon.   The 2nd place winner was Stacked Wines, LLC for their Stacked Wine Bottles; and the 3rd place winner was Rao’s Specialty Foods for their Rao’s Italian Pepper, Mushroom & Onion Cooking Sauce. Mary Bette Forte with CTI Foods from Rancho Cucamonga, CA won a $250 shopping spree.

Thousands of attendees received free education at The Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum.  One of the most popular sessions was The Fine Dining Panel: The Death of Fine Dining? Presented by Brad Metzger of Restaurant Solutions. Panelists included Casey Lane, The Tasting Kitchen, The Parish, Itri; Matt Erickson, SBE; David Lefevre, Manhattan Beach Post; Donato Poto, Providence Restaurant; and Paul Hibler, Pitrife Pizza and Suberba Snack Bar.

Expo Comida Latina – the only industry trade event focused on the Hispanic retail and foodservice markets offered thousands of new and traditional Hispanic flavors and products, along with hundreds of food options, product and services, education sessions on Hispanic market trends. Martita Jara, Season 8 Finalist, Food Network Star, conducted a cooking demonstration and tasting at the Expo.
At the close of the Show, the exhibitors of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo donated thousands of pounds of food to David & Margaret Youth and Family Services located in La Verne, California. For over 100 years they have been providing hope, transforming lives and empowering children, youth and families through culturally diverse services that foster emotional, educational, spiritual and identity development.

About The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo

The 2013 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo will be held Sunday, August 18 – Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The Show is produced and managed by Reed Exhibitions, and sponsored by the California Restaurant Association. Reed Exhibitions produces several other foodservice events including the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show scheduled for Saturday, September 22 – Monday, September 24, 2012 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL and the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York to be held Sunday, March 3 – Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. For more information on exhibiting or attending future events, call (888) 334-8705 or visit the official Show website at