CRFA Show Draws Positive Outlook

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TORONTO — The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association’s (CRFA) annual tradeshow wrapped up in Toronto on Tuesday after three days of seminars, demonstrations, packed aisles and an abundance of great food and drink.

While visitors, exhibitors and media circulated the show floor on Monday and Tuesday, members of Canada’s culinary cannon, like Susur Lee, Jonathon Gushue, Giovanna Alonzi, Anne Yarymowich, Anthony Walsh and Donna Dooher, shared some of their unique tricks of the trade in live cooking demos on one of two stages set at opposite ends of the massive convention centre.

Other attendees were treated to more focused training sessions in one of many breakout seminar sessions about financial skills, customer service, energy efficiency and restaurant design. Once again, the prevailing attitude in most of the rooms was one of confidence and optimism for the future.  

As was reported by foodserviceandhospitality.com on Monday, the feeling among most exhibitors was one of cautious optimism. In particular, suppliers and distributors that had products that fit the mould of the CRFA’s recently released culinary trends survey were quick to point out the timeliness of their product. On the beverage side in particular, the sheer volume of drinks — from smoothies to sparkling water — extolling local, organic, GMO- free, healthy properties was certainly evidence of the future direction of F&B in this country. Only adding to that optimism, was the notion that many of these new product offerings are meeting with a great deal of sales success in the marketplace, despite being premium products, sold at premium prices, reason enough to draw smiles from restaurateurs, distributors and manufacturers alike.

Not be overshadowed, the crew from Bartender one, along with special guests Frankie Solarik of Toronto’s Barchef and Kevin Brauch of Iron Chef America and The Thirsty Traveler, were busy all three days, pouring drinks on the mixology stage. Highlighted by Brauch’s blindfolded sabrage demonstration and Solarik’s ‘how-to’ course with his signature vanilla-hickory-smoked Manhattan (a $45 treat at his bar), the stage was a near constant hub of activity and interest.   

One particular highlight for F&H magazine was the first-place finish of the magazine’s associate editor, J.D. Ney in the media mix-off. In the competition, four media types where pitted against one another, each charged to make a drink that included one common ingredient: Tabasco’s Sweet and Spicy Pepper Sauce.

Ney’s Bangkok Burbourn Sour wooed the panel of judges with its blend of bourbon, fresh muddled blood orange, thai-basil simple syrup, aromatic bitters, egg white, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cointreau and — of course — the Sweet and Spicy Pepper Sauce. “I’ve spent a lot of time in bars, and have a long history with alcohol,” Ney joked upon winning the top prize — a Texas Mickey (3 litres) of Bicardi rum.

 

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