What’s the best way to ruin your diet? Going to trade shows of course! I can spend weeks eating whole grains, Healthy Choice frozen meals and oatmeal, go running every day and be super disciplined, only to blow it all during three days of NY Restaurant Show, Pizza Expo or one of those decadent CIA World of Flavor conferences. It’s like once I walk through those doors to culinary extravagance (be it in the form of ingredient supplier infused energy bars or The almond boards latest creative creation) all resistance goes out the window and I start eating everything in sight. Then the end of the day comes and it’s off to a steak dinner or supplier hospitality suite or raiding the mini bar in the hotel room (come on, you all do it!)-BUT there is one show that you can stuff yourself silly and still get out with only 25 weight watcher points for the day…
The PMA Food Service Conference and Expo!
And because I recently took on a 3 month long full time consulting position I never got around to sharing my experiences at PMA, which I attended back in late July in Monterey, CA. If you missed PMA that’s ok because they are doing another event, even bigger and better over in Anaheim this weekend! You can see the details and register here-Oct 2-5 2009.
The PMA was a whirlwind of fruit and vegetable activity, with non-stop produce exposure. Our networking lunches were full of fiber and our coffee breaks we got to eat single serving bags of fresh crispy green snap peas. At first I was disappointed that there were no almond cookies or bags of chip but then I started getting into the raw vegetable and added it to my list of reasons for not running later on that night (*Note-eating lots of vegetables during the day can be a valid excuse for missing a workout)
But the snap peas were not the only highlight. An early morning breakfast was spent listening to Robert Danhi, Ted Allan and Chef Jeff talk about their food philosophies. Robert is an RCA member, Ted Allen is the host of the TV show Chopped and chef Jeff is an ex con who wrote a cookbook.
Then the trio took the excitement even further, they all got on stage and started whipping up these fabulous “who woulda thought of that” dishes using blueberries, avocados, cauliflower, broccoli and grapes. It was an “Iron Chef” of sorts, except I think they all knew the secret ingredients 24 hours before so of course all the dishes were fabulous!
My favorite dish was Danhi’s Avocado and Blueberry Parfait with an almond garnish. I never would have thought that the two would go well together.. but they do!
I took lots of great photos and immediately posted them on my Facebook page and on Ted Allen’s FB page. I put in a funny caption about Danhi and Ted Allen but Ted didn’t like what I wrote so he made me take it down. So here is the uncaptioned photo, maybe you can come up with a Ted Allen friendly quote?
Immediately after the green veggie demo we moved into the Expo lounge which housed some of the most beautiful produce I have ever see in my life. This says a lot because I live in San Francisco, frequently go to overpriced yuppie organic farmers markets! I saw multicolored corn, and peaches as big as your head, perfect strawberries, and unblemished raspberries. This was definitely the show for vegetables to see and be seen! There were great foodservice ideas, like the corn medallions companies selling bagged apples and other individual serving, school lunch box friendly items.
I waited around for Ted because there was a vague consentment of a potential interview, but I read later on (on his twitter updates-you can follow him at @choptedallen) that he was off getting spa treatment in downtown Monterey, so I never got my one on one, sorry to disappoint!