Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo 2015 Event Highlights


LOS ANGELES, CA, September 8, 2015 – The energy and excitement on the show floor was fantastic, fueled by all of the special events, new product announcements, and culinary competitions which were all part of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, held recently at the Los Angeles Convention Center, August 23-25, 2015.   The event was sponsored by the California Restaurant Association, a partner of the National Restaurant Association.
“It was great to be back in Los Angeles for this year’s event and we thank our exhibitors, our attendees, our speakers, our partners including California Restaurant Association, the California Craft Brewers Association and our distributor partner Sysco,” said Ron Mathews, Industry Vice President for the Foodservice Events. “The event is more than a trade show; it is a complete learning experience that improves our attendees business throughout the year.”

Highlights of the event, included:

  • Torch Award presentation to Mary Sue Milliken & Susan Feniger The Food Shows and Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum presented the inaugural Torch Award to Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, Chefs and Owners of Border Grill & Truck for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the restaurant and foodservice community. The Two Hot Tamales then prepared a Peruvian Ceviche on Plantain Chips in the Culinary Demonstration Theater in front of a standing room only crowd.
  • The CRA Educational Foundation’s 4th Annual Culinary Clash: Battle Los Angeles raised more than $78,000 which will provide educational resources to more than 121 ProStart programs in California high schools supporting more than 8,500 students.  Awards went to…
    • Best Bite (Amuse Bouche) – tie – BJ’s and Dos Coyotes
    • Shoefie Award by SafeTstep – ProStart Student Mary Razo-Ayon (Black Bear Diner)
    • The EcoLab Champ – Hard Rock Café
    • Best Use of Coca Cola Product – Chart House and Peobe’s
    • Kitchen Aid Commercial Equipment Champ -Specialties Restaurant Corp, The Castaway
    • Golden Glove Champ – (overall best taste) Dos Coyotes
    • Teamwork Champ – Red Robin
    • Team Spirit Champ – tie – Karl Strauss Brewery and Pacifica Hotels: The Belmar Hotel
    • The Purse – (most money raised) –  The Black Bear Diner ($4,500)
      Photos from the event can be found on the CRAEF Facebook page – www.facebook.com/craedfoundation.
  • The Winners of the People’s Choice Awards for the Innovative New Product Gallery were announced.  The Overall Winner was Fresh Origins for their succulent and tasty Unique Flower Buds. The 1st Place Runner Up was Spindrift for their fresh squeezed seltzer cans – cucumber, lime and grapefruit; and The 2nd Place Runner Up was Menuvative for their Tablet Menus. The winner of the Best New Product in the Food Trends Experience was Yummy Baking for their Gourmet Dessert Cups and Bites. In addition, Annie Doung, Strategic Buyer, Panda Restaurant Group, Rosemead, CA, won a $500 shopping spree on the show floor.
  • Rodney Eckerman, CEO of PizzaRev, CRA Board Member presented “Leading the Restaurant Renaissance – How to Best Position Your Company to Thrive Amongst Change”, and discussed the importance of continuing to evolve your business and adapt to customer needs and trends.
  • Pitch the Press – Several industry journalists scoured the show floor on the opening day to find some of the most unique and interesting new products and then invited the exhibitors to present a two minute pitch to a room full of editors in the first annual Pitch the Press Event.   Products that were pitched included:
    • Borges USA’s specialty food packaging products
    • Fresh Origins’ unique edible flower buds
    • Heineken USA’s new BrewLock Draught Beer System
    • HotSchedules’ mobile technology for the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries
    • Karoun Dairies Mediterranean specialty cheeses and cultured dairy products
    • Leafware’s palm leaf utility tray and plates
    • O Olive Oil’s Fruit Cut Cold Pressed 100% California EVOO
    • OtaJoy’s Komachi Sauce
    • SociaReach’s organic social marketing programs
    • Superior Farms Lamb Bacon
    • Tap it Brewing’s new craft beers
    • TossWare’s crystal clear upscale disposable and recyclable plastic drink ware;
    • UpperCrust’s Nutella Products
    • Vessl’s portable charging station
    • WorkPop’s staffing technology system
    • WunderBar’s beverage and liquor dispensing system.
  • Presenters in the Culinary Demonstration Theater included Richard Pink, Pink’s Hot Dogs; Amanda Martin, Leoness Cellars in Temecula; Chef Bev Lazo, Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen; Keith Breedlove, Culinerdy Cruzer; Chef Daragh Matheson & Winemaker Mike Rennie, Leoness Cellars; James Bailey; SJ & Associates Food Sales Solutions; and Keith Jones, Honey Smoked Fish Company.
  • Thousands of attendees took advantage of the 30+ education sessions offered at The Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum.  Several standing room only panels were held including the Women’s Entrepreneur Circle and A Celebration of Women Chefs in Fine Dining, as well as sessions led by David Scott Peters, The Restaurant Expert and Darren Denington, from Service with Style Hospitality Group in the Education Station on the show floor.
  • Hundreds of attendees watched as rising star chefs competed in the Los Angeles Chefs Mystery Box Cooking Competition which was hosted by Brad Metzger of Restaurant Solutions. Top Rising Star Chefs battled it out with mystery ingredients in a fast paced cooking competition where they only have minutes to create a winning dish!  Competing chefs included Bruce Kalman, Union; Michael Hung, Faith & Flower; and Kirk Plummer, Sambar.  The competition was judged by top esteemed critics and operators including Jet Tila, Chef/Restaurateur, Cutthroat Kitchen; Richard Drapkin, Manhattan House, Duff’s, Cakemix, Brentwood, BLD; and Mark Peel, Bombo.
  • The California Craft Brewers Association Pavilion was a favorite spot on the show floor offering unparalleled opportunity to taste test from some of California’s leading craft brewers; The CCBA proudly represented the rich and diverse collection of artisans and entrepreneurs that make up the family of California’s craft brewers. 2015 Participating Brewers included: Karl Strauss, Trumer Pils Brewery, Tap It Brewing Company, The Dudes Brewing Company, KomBucha Dog, Mad River Brewing Company, and Dust Bowl Brewing Company.
  • At the close of the Show, the exhibitors of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo donated thousands of pounds of food to Los Angeles Regional Food Bank which distributes 59 million pounds of food annually and serves 280,500 individuals every month through Food Bank programs.
About The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo
The 2016 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, will be held Sunday, August 28 – Tuesday, August 30 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, October 6 – Thursday, October 8, 2015 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL and the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York to be held Sunday, March 6 – Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. For more information on exhibiting or attending future events, visit the official Show website at www.thefoodshows.com.