Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to a Food Show produced by Driscoll Foods. Until the last year or so, Driscoll primarily provided food and other hospitality related items to the restaurants in the downstate market. Driscoll Foods has entered the upstate market and is giving Sysco and US Foodservice a run for their money.
I’ve been to many food shows over the years in my previous life in the hospitality industry. This show was particularly enjoyable because of the quality of the vendors. Rule number one is to not eat before you go to one of these shows because there are so many things to sample, you will need lots of room. Driscoll is unique because they have their own butcher shop. Not only do they age their own beef, but they custom cut their meat. This ensures quality and also lets restaurants pick the size of the steak and the quantity of each cut to eliminate spoilage or the need for frozen meat. The beef I sampled was superb! I’m pretty picky as my grandfather and his brothers owned a butcher shop in the city. From the time I could eat solid food, my grandfather would hand select my dinner and drop it off to my mom to cook each night.
There was more than just beef there. There was an abundance of fresh seafood, desserts, side items, dressings, sauces and condiments. My favorite vendor was Van-Lang Foods. They had an array of appetizers that come frozen, but you would never know it. I’m all for making everything on site, but in some restaurants, this isn’t an option. Van-Lang makes them for you from fresh ingredients, and then freezes them. What a great option. I sampled the Vegetable Spring Rolls and couldn’t have detected they were frozen, a rarity for frozen spring rolls. My favorite was the Water Chestnut Wrapped in Bacon. Another favorite vendor was Zina’s Salads for the same reason. They make composed cold side dishes from fresh ingredients. They had an incredible variety, each one better than the next. My favorites salads were the Carrot and Raisin and the Black Bean with Corn and Roasted Red Peppers. If pickles are you thing, then Patriot Pickle had something for everyone. I liked the sour ones best, they had a great garlic note.
One of the best things about this show is that similar products were grouped together so you could compare them side by side. There also were strategically places beverage vendors throughout the show to satisfy your thirst during this grand tasting. I can only hope I am invited back next time!