There were half-baked cookies on aisle 1300. The Waffle Lady was on aisle 1500 giving out samples of pumpkin, gingerbread and other flavored mixes. The members of the “made at home” salsa contingent appeared on a variety of aisles – those people who think their Salsa is sure to win “best of show” and still those old standards – crispy sesame sticks, soggy olives, pungent cheeses, sugary chocolates, chemicalized dips and fructose infused sparkling drinks all gathered at the San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Yes, the 2009 Fancy Food Show is over. And just like years past, food buyers, culinary adventurers, restaurant owners and retail store proprietors looking for that newly developed premier product all have to take the bad, and often, the very bad, with the good.
This year was no different.
The majority of those displaying their products and culinary creations of fabulously flavorful and pleasing to the palate samples are bright, hard working, innovative people. However, so many others think they have the next product to overtake the culinary world that it is easy to see why so many people lose so much money in food.
What is it that makes people believe if they can cook a meal for four, get equally as many rave reviews from the guests that suddenly hey have the ability to saut?, boil, blend, package, label, promote, market and eventually, distribute a bottle of White Peach Marmalade?
If the process weren’t so difficult and costly, it would be comedic. Yet the fact, that many people invest their life’s savings and other’s money in an attempt to squeeze product on grocer’s shelves or on the spice rack of a busy kitchen is amazing.
The only thing worse than thinking you are the next Mario Batali is thinking you could be the next Duncan Hines.
As I walked the show, the rollercoaster ride my palate experienced – salt, sugar, sugar salt, bitter, sweet, and back again was often difficult to ingest on the multi – aisle walk. Unlike wine where you sip, swish and spit – at the food show you have to swallow. Often that turns out to be an experience you later regret.
From the chatter in the aisles, the next trend to boom in the restaurant business is homemade product development from restaurant owners who feel their sauce are superior and should be introduced to the public through gourmet food establishments.
I heard more than a dozen times as I eavesdropped on the flavorful chatter of samplers how much better the product that they create was compared to the product they tasted.
It mattered not if it were mustard, ketchup, salami, or waffle mix. I truly believe the only manufacturers that are safe are the gelato people who seem to have little show goer competition.
I want to state that I experienced some incredible new products at the Fancy Food Show. And, that most of the vendors and manufacturers are producing quality, well thought out, product that is appealing to many restaurants and retail entities.
And, there are also those products that will not be around by next year’s show. The point here- don’t think that product creation and distribution is an easy business to jump into. It isn’t.
First of all, do not believe your relatives when they tell you your salsa or brownies or bread is the “Bet they have ever tasted.”
Secondly, the amount of money that needs to go into product development and marketing is more than any one jar- or a truck load of jars of your best salsa can support. And finally, if you sauce, or condiment, ketchup or sea salt creation is that good- serve it at your restaurant.
And, if you don’t believe me, try and find the half-baked cookie lady at next year’s show.