Recap of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo


Recap of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality ExpoOver 10,000 restaurant and foodservice industry professionals saw new products and services from 400 exhibiting companies – 174 of which were new to the Show – covering 100,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, held last week at the Los Angeles Convention Center.   The event, which was started in 1936, was sponsored by the California Restaurant Association, a partner of the National Restaurant Association.
“The energy and excitement on the show floor was fantastic, fueled by all of the special events, new product announcements and culinary competitions. We would like to thank our exhibitors, attendees, speakers and partner, the California Restaurant Association, for making this event more than a tradeshow,” said Ron Mathews, Industry Vice President for the Foodservice Events. “We heard a lot of great buzz on the show floor from the buyers who were discovering many innovative and dynamic new products and services for the industry.”Recap of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo
The show also featured the presentation of two prestigious awards. On Sunday afternoon preceding the Foodservice Council for Women symposium, Kathleen Wood, Kathleen Wood Partners and Master Chef Ferdinand Metz presented The Beacon Award to Kelli Valade,President of Chili’s® Grill and Bar. On Monday, in front of a standing room only crowd, theTorch Award was presented to Thomas Keller, renowned chef and proprietor of The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, which includes The French Laundry and Per Se, for his innovation and commitment to the profession.
On Sunday afternoon the California Restaurant Association hosted the 5th Annual Culinary Clash: Battle Los Angeles and raised more than $86,000, which will provide educational resources to ProStart programs in California high schools. The Culinary Clash Winners were:
  • The Ecolab Champ: Real Mex, Specialty Restaurant Corp.
  • The Coca-Cola Champ: Yard House
  • The KitchenAid Champ: Hard Rock Cafe, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
  • The FreshPoint Champ: Real Mex
  • The Foster Farms Champ: Yard House, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
  • The Golden Glove Champ: Real Mex
  • The Golden Plate Champ: Real Mex, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
  • The Best Bite Champ: Broderick Roadhouse, Real Mex
  • The Teamwork Champ: Chart House
  • The Team Spirit Award: Black Bear Diner
  • The People’s Choice Champ: Specialty Restaurant Corp.
  • The Purse Prize: Black Bear Diner with $5,155
The Winners of the People’s Choice Awards for the Innovative New Product Showcase were announced. The Overall Winner was Fresh Origins for their Edible Herb Flowers Mix and Habanero Herb Crystals. The 1st Place Runner Up was SK Oil Sales for their Zeco Oil Management Solutions Pro Series 3; and The 2nd Place Runner Up was Zetlian Bakery for their all natural Falafel and Falafel Bites. The winner of the Best New Product in the Food Trends Experience was Padilla Imports for their El Yucateco Black Label Reserve Habanero Hot Sauce.
During the show, several industry journalists scoured the show floor on the opening day to find the most unique and interesting new products and then invited the product’s exhibitors to present a two-minute pitch to a room full of editors in the Pitch the Press Event. Products that were pitched included AngeloPo’s Combi Oven, Bissell’s Wide Area Sweeper, Ferrarella Sparkling Water, Fiscalini’s Cheese Company’s Pumpkin Spice Cheddar, Fresh Origins’ Habanero Herb Crystals, Jones Dairy’s Cherry Smoked Ham, PackNWood’s paper cones with deep sauce containers, Vito’s Oil Filter System and Zojirushi’s stainless vacuum creamer dairy server. The votes were tallied by those in attendance and the Best in Show for the Pitch the Press program was awarded to The Real Co for their Pink Himalayan Salt and Real Cane Sugar and innovative philanthropic efforts.
Thousands of attendees took advantage of the 30+ education sessions offered at The Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum. Panel discussions featured interesting and timely topics including; The New Normal! Trans Inclusivity in the Workplace; Legal Center Live; Tipping Points: The viability of traditional gratuities alongside California’s minimum wage increase; a Celebration and Discussion with Women Chefs; Practical Nutrition for Today’s Top Chefs, and much more.
Hundreds of attendees watched as rising star chefs competed in the Rapid Fire Appetizer Competition, which was hosted by Dining Out San Diego and Supported by Chef’s Roll. Lusy Gradzhyan of Lusy’s Mediterranean Café & Grill won the competition. Gradzhyan prepared her recipe for a smoked eggplant tapenade finished with a virgin olive oil infused with Meyer lemon. The other two chefs who competed were Tore Trupiano, Dominic’s at the Harbor and Jodi Taffel, Bacon Babe Catering. The judges were Bernard Guillas, La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club; Curtis Cooke, Cal-A-Vie; and Dana Dare, Lawry’s The Prime Rib.
New on the show floor were three international feature areas including; the Sabor Latino Pavilion, which focused on Hispanic and Latin American products; the Japan Pavilion, which featured foods and products dedicated to Japanese food and flavors; and theExtraordinary Taste of Italy, which raised awareness on authentic Italian food and wine products.
Other feature areas on the show floor included the Food Trends Experience where 75 companies displayed healthy, organic sustainable, ethnic artisanal, fusion and more; The Education Station, which featured business strategies from leaders in the field; The Beer, Wine and Spirits Pavilion, which offered access to new craft beers and other products, and much more. Presenters in the Culinary Demonstration Theater included David Adir of The Carving Board, Joseph Johnson of Charcoal Venice, Kristen “Krimsey” Ramsey of Krimsey’s Cali-Cajun, Zov Karamardian of Zov’s, and Ben Diaz of Rosa Mexicano LA Live.
At the close of the Show, the exhibitors of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo donated thousands of pounds of food to The Los Angeles Mission, which strives to be a world leader among Missions that provide for the poor, restore the addicted and eliminate homelessness.
The 2017 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, will be held Sunday, August 27 – Tuesday, August 29 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The Show is produced and managed by Urban Expositions ( and sponsored by the California Restaurant Association ( Urban Expositions produces several other foodservice events including the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show scheduled for Tuesday, September 27 – Thursday, September 29, 2016 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL and the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York to be heldSunday, March 5 – Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. For more information on exhibiting or attending future events, visit the official Show website at

Urban Expositions
, owned by Clarion Events, produces and manages a portfolio of 36 events, serving eight industry sectors including Gift, Souvenir, Art, Aviation, Foodservice, Pet, Auto and Gaming.  Urban has offices in Shelton, CT and Boca Raton, FL, and is represented by employees in California, Colorado and Illinois. Clarion Events operates over 200 events in 35 countries from offices in the UK, South Africa, USA, Brazil, Germany, Singapore, UAE, Turkey, and the Netherlands.  Clarion can trace its roots back to 1947 and takes great pride in being one of the oldest independent event organizers in the UK.  The teams at Clarion create uniquely effective and stimulating environments that can serve as a platform to build businesses, enhance customer relationships and accelerate product awareness. For more information, visit