A Packed House for the BC Foodservice Expo

February 26, 2009

By Ed Dugas

On January 25th and 26th, BC Place hosted the annual BC Food Service
Exposition, Western Canada’s largest hospitality trade show. The event
is held by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA)
which represents 33,000 industry members across Canada.

This showcase event serves both as an opportunity for the public to
peruse what the industry has to offer, and as an ideal business to
business networking opportunity where new relationships between
restaurants and suppliers are forged, and existing ones are
strengthened.

The power of networking and community building is of fundamental
importance in the F&B industry, as is the opportunity to share
information and insight. This is why the CRFA includes a number of
seminar opportunities for businesses to understand how to incorporate
green practices, be more effective managers, and take advantage of the
opportunities the Winter Olympic Games will offer.

As in years past, live “culinary excellence” cooking competitions were
staged, one of which featured members of the BC Chef’s Association and
their quest for Chef-of-the-Year supremacy. The Chef-of-the-Year
Competition is an Iron-Chef style event where chefs have to work with
mystery ingredients and a limited time frame. Just like in a
professional cooking environment, thinking on your feet and exhibiting
creativity and superior planning pays off.

The feature event was the Hot Competition Live! In its 13th year, this
competition featured chefs of all levels from aspiring Red Seal
certified. Each team brings their recipes and are judged by a panel of
respected culinarians. These were great opportunities for visitors to
take a break from the exhibitions and see real interactive displays,
equipped with overhead mirrors so everyone could see what the cooks
were doing behind the line.

As for the exhibitors at this annual event, they’re always on their “A”
games. Each year brings about exciting products and services which
focus on new technologies, environmentalism and revolutionary product
ideas. There are many great new products and services featured, so
it’s hard to mention everyone. But here are a few we noticed that we
thought were worth mentioning.

We saw a lot of interesting trends towards environmentally-friendly
products. There were a few companies promoting potato and corn-based
disposable containers, which are better for the environment than
petroleum-based plastics. The forks, knives, spoons, plates and
containers were indistinguishable from conventional plastic options,
but make a big difference if they end up in the landfill.

Ponderosa Mushrooms had a very interesting booth filled with bundles
and bundles of the tasty morsels for display. I thought they did an
excellent job incorporating the product into the booth space, and had
quite a lot of variety of mushrooms to really give a personalized
vision of their selection for potential customers.

Site Benefits is an interactive company that is helping get the F&B
industry online. This Ottawa-based company specializes in web
management, analytics analysis, web design and reservation technology.
This company is part of the growing evidence that shows the industry is
starting to embrace the power of the internet in droves.

Simple but interesting, the Creamery Plastic Products company showcased
their Steam Pan Ice Chiller, which is great for catering and off-site
functions. These plastic trays keep ice cold for up to 8 hours, and
fit in with most existing metal containers. These are perfect for the
chef on the go!

Another growing industry is organic waste removal. While most
companies had a green spin for their businesses, there were a few that
are making this cause their bread and butter. These companies,
including Organic Resource Management Inc., BSI Biodegradable Solutions
and Green Table Network either provide organic oil and grease removal,
biodegradable supplies or are touting the importance of networking in
the green movement. Let’s hope a lot of money gets invested into these
and other similar ventures in the future.

The Expo will be back in 2010, right at the cusp of the Winter Olympic Games. Please visit http://www.crfa.ca/
to learn more about the trade show and register for next year! And
thanks to everyone who chatted with Industry Blender and gave us so
much great feedback and support at the show.

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