Food Show Shines Spotlight on Culinary Science
Sometimes all it takes is the right contact for an amazing experience to happen. When planning a class trip, some of my fellow culinary science students thought it would be great to attend the Fancy Food Show, presented by the Specialty Food Association at The Javits Center in New York City. They reached out to the association’s president, Phil Kafarakis, to see if he could help. Did he ever!
Having just visited the CIA campus as a commencement speaker in the spring, Mr. Kafarakis knew we were the future chefs of the industry and wanted us to see the future trends highlighted at the show—so he gave us 25 complimentary tickets! We were very excited, and couldn’t wait to head down to the big city.
The first thing we did when we arrived was to meet with Mr. Kafarakis. He was super-energetic, positive, and very happy to see us. We kind of felt like celebrities, surrounded by cameras and a large circle of people. Our host wanted everyone to see the organization getting the future chefs of America on board at the food show, and they rolled out the red carpet times 10 for us!
After our meeting and with special badges in hand, we headed over to the show floor. We still felt like big shots as we walked in—everyone was looking at us like we were VIPs because the cameras were still following close behind, and we were all decked out in our chef’s whites. That was pretty cool.
The “paparazzi” left us once we got inside, and we had a chance to explore the many different sections at the show. There was a lot of cultural diffusion. It was like a giant mall, with each section representing a different country. One company, Hot Bread Kitchen, was sampling Ginjan, its detox cleansing ginger drink. I got a chance to taste it, and it was good, super spicy. (I also happen to love ginger!) Like many show presenters, Hot Bread was an already-established company looking to expand its business through new investors and opportunities.
One of our stops was the Thermomix booth, and the reps there asked us a lot of questions about our program. The company manufactures a high-end food processor, so of course they were very interested in our lab and the equipment we used in our classes.
Moving on to another booth, I thought the concept of Avocado Leaf Tea was interesting. We go through so many avocados, and when we harvest them the leaves just die. So, the company founders thought, why not take the leaves and make tea out of them? And it works! Their teas have a light herbal taste with a good sampling of flavors, and they’re very sustainable.
In general, people on the show floor were very into us, and many took us under their wing. We got to chat with companies about how to open a business, and heard about all the challenges and successes along the way. It really got us thinking.
Corporate people who wanted to pitch ideas talked to us, asking what we were going to be doing after the CIA. Many of us even received job offers! The industry clearly needs chefs who know the R&D side of things.
These kinds of events connect all of us. The whole experience was something I will never forget. As we were leaving, I captured the moment forever—with my show badge in the foreground and the excitement of New York City behind it.
After seeing so much emphasis on things like vegan and gluten-free at the show, I realized that culinary science is huge now in the industry. It makes me even more grateful that I’m in the culinary science bachelor’s program at the CIA. And I can’t wait for our next adventure!
By Adam Giordano
Adam Giordano is a student in the bachelor’s degree program in culinary science at the CIA’s New York campus.