Yep, that’s me chillin with Ina Garten at NYC’s Fancy Food Show. We’re like totally BFF!
Actually, I may or may not have run up to her like a hysterical fan, babbled that I’ve seen every episode of every show she’s ever done and had Taste Tester snap this awkward photo. I also had brief (and slightly less awkward) run-ins with Rick Bayless and Rachael Ray, but more on them in a bit.
BTW you may notice that I am just now getting to write about this event which actually occurred in late June. Work has been so busy this summer that I was forced to take a little blogging hiatus and am still a little backlogged on posts. So this is me catching up a little. I had a great time at the FFS this year though and wanted to make sure this post finally got up. Hope you enjoy!
I have attended the Fancy Food Show three years in a row, only things were a little different for me this year because instead of merely spectating, I worked at the Askinosie Chocolate booth giving out samples and trying to make sales. Here’s Kesha, Shawn Askinosie and me at the booth. I think this shot was taken on the third day because we look a little tired and maybe a little strung out on sugar, but that’s alright.
Working their booth was a fun job since we got compliments all day long for how amazing the chocolate is. One of the things I love most about sharing my homemade baked treats is seeing the look in people’s eyes – that look of, “oh my god, that’s incredible!” before they even say it. I got to see that look on one person after another for 3 days in a row. It was pretty excellent, though a little difficult to stand in front of this almost entirely edible display without doing it in myself.
I did meet one poor kid that was allergic to chocolate and sadly declined my offer to taste it. My friend, whatever your name was and wherever you are, I sympathize greatly.
Before getting to the show, my big plan was to wander around and tweet about all of the chocolate & peanut butter that I came across. However it turns out that it’s somewhat difficult to tweet when you’re trying to appear personable, which generally doesn’t involve staring at your cell. Despite the non-tweeting, I do have some chocolate and peanut butter to share below.
Taste Tester was at the show with me on the first day and wandered around, scoping out the CPB scene while I tried my hand at selling chocolate at the booth. He reported back a few times, first to tell me that Ina Garten was a couple rows over (ahem, see dorky picture above) and later to tell me that Rick Bayless was also nearby. As you may have gathered from the raves about XOCO’s hot chocolate in my previous post, I am a Rick Bayless fan (who isn’t?) and wanted to swing by his booth to see what he was up to. For an excuse to say hello to him, we asked Shawn if we could share some chocolate. He offered up a jar of his new, dynamite Chocolate Hazelnut Spread.
We ran right over to deliver the jar and even though we bothered him in the middle of cooking, he was super nice. He asked what booth number Shawn was at and said he’d stop by. We assumed he was just being polite but the next day, he actually stopped by! He sampled the spread and I believe he used the word, “fantastic” and said something about wanting to swim in the jar. It’s understandable – this stuff is to die for. With just a few ingredients (hazelnuts, cocoa beans and sugar), it’s very natural and tastes really pure, unlike other chocolate hazelnut spreads on the market. They are the only people in the U.S. making it from scratch. You know you want some! Get it here.
I had the very fun job of designing the jar for this spread. I tried throughout the show to convince them to come out with a chocolate peanut butter version. Here’s hoping!
After the show closed on the second day, I decided to lead Shawn & Kesha to my favorite Venezuelan spot, Caracas (which you may know from the arepa Throwdown w/Bobby Flay) but with a 45 min wait, we decided to try our luck a few blocks up at one of our favorite pizzerias, Motorino. Everyday with Rachael Ray had published a pizza bracket a few months back where they listed the best pizzerias in the country and named Motorino as the best in our region. We were offered a table immediately with the stipulation that we had to be out of there in an hour. When we inquired who the table was reserved for, they told us that it was for Rachael Ray.
Now, it should be noted that I’ve been to the food show three years in a row and had never before seen any of my favorite tv chefs (while finding out after the fact that other bloggers have), and this was the 3rd one that I’d potentially get to see in the span of 2 days. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I just about lost my sh*t right there. I pretty much kept Food Network on 24/7 throughout my college years, so let’s just say that I have watched a lot of it. This may seem like small beans to a non-watcher, but I was excited (!).
Anyway, we ate our pizza quickly, all the while wishing we had stashed some chocolate bars in our purses so that we could leave one for her. Just as we left the restaurant, her car pulled up outside and she and her husband walked in. We decided to be polite and stay out of her way, so we only saw her for about 3 seconds, but it was cool nonetheless.
By the third day we were all a little tired. Up walked someone with a Serious Eats badge and I perked right up. I google subscribe to Serious Eats/LOVE IT and was happy to chat with another foodie/blogger type person. It wasn’t until a few minutes into the chat that I glanced down at the badge again and realized it said, “Ed Levine“. I guess I hadn’t known what he looked like previous to the chat, but have read many of his writings. Shawn walked up and the three of us chatted chocolate. He mentioned that he loved Askinosie’s Chocolate Salted Sorbet at Roman’s in Brooklyn. We had just gone there for dinner two nights before and I gobbled every last morsel of my scoop. He informed us that he had done a write-up of it, which you can read here. So, meeting Ed was pretty excellent as well.
Small tangent: that night in Brooklyn, we swung by Brooklyn Larder where the owner gave us a little tour of his shop’s space. I spied some salted peanut gelato! Oooh… (sorry for the blurry cell phone pic)
As Taste Tester made his rounds at the show, he also found Cavemen Cookies, maker of gluten-free all-natural cookies. Here’s a shot of some of their table display. I designed all but the cute little Caveman doll. The brand was later named one of the show’s best products on epicurious.com. How cool is that?
Taste Tester also helped me acquire some chocolate peanut butter samples from various vendors. Some pictures are below and more are here. I’ll do my best to dedicate individual write-ups to each product, though I am still pretty backlogged on posts from my hiatus.
Justin’s Nut Butters in Maple and Honey (how cute are these?). This brand also sells chocolate almond, chocolate peanut and chocolate hazelnut butters.
More soon! :)