Food and Leisure

The top 3 food trends: Gluten-free, organic & super foods

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Millie & Karla Reyes - The Philippine Star

MILLIE: One of the best trade shows I have ever attended showcasing the latest trends in the hotel and restaurant industry was the NRA by the National Restaurant Association in the USA, held annually at McCormick Place in Chicago. I remember visiting booths of thousands of exhibitors a whole weekend and at the end of the day, I was so tired, I could barely walk! But it was a great experience and I encouraged Karla to go check it out. I had wanted her to check out the latest industry trends and catering equipment as well as to meet purveyors and possibly grab some new ideas for her future endeavors.

KARLA: Ever since I was a little girl, my mom has always talked about the NRA shows or the National Restaurants Association trade expos. Thankfully, I was given an opportunity to finally attend. Since I was already in the US, I figured it would be such a waste if I didn’t even try to go. Worried about the additional expenses, I ran the idea past my mom and in a heartbeat she said, “Yes! Go!” I quickly booked my flight and hotel and the registration for the show within the hour. And, just like that, I was all set.

I left New York on a Friday afternoon right after class and arrived in Chicago that evening. I got up early Saturday morning and headed to McCormick Place. The show was in three major halls. Most people I met during the trade show said that they normally don’t get to see everything in two days. The show runs for four days but since I had school, I had only two days for the show.

MILLIE: Since it would be Karla’s first time to travel to Chicago alone I patched her up with my good friend Maridel Anama, who has lived in the windy city for over 30 years, just in case Karla needed anything as well as to ask for tips on where to dine. I remember Karla met Maridel and family once when I attended the NRA trade show and Karla spent a whole day with Maridel’s kids.

Another time, when Karla was about five years old, we were on vacation in New York and I left her with my cousin Rosemarie Pettersson for the weekend so I could fly to Chicago to attend the NRA. Upon my return, Rosemarie took her along to pick me up from JFK airport and Karla ran up to greet me in tears! I realized she had been afraid I would never come back.

At the tradeshow, there were booths showcasing all kinds of products like scallops and other seafood, steaks, poultry, processed meats, desserts, hot and cold beverages, and one could literally get stuffed sampling dishes and need not worry about lunch and dinner. I remember the first time I came with the mom of Ermin Garcia and Charisse Chuidian, who was then residing in Chicago, and she had sampled a bit too many sweets that her blood sugar shot up! 

I came home with tons of brochures and other giveaways and scolded myself for not bringing a small trolley bag.

KARLA: I noticed that the NRA show is super high-tech. Registration and payment is online, and when you get there on the day of registration, they have computers and all you need to do is input your information and it prints out an ID for you. On top of that, they also have an app that shows the schedule of the demos, talks, sessions, events, complete with the profiles of the speakers, etc. It can even locate where you are in the show and help guide you to whatever is in your area. Of course there is also a full list of the exhibitors on the app, the map and where you can find them. 

Still gaining ground, the top three food trends still around are gluten-free, organic and super foods. One thing I love about trade fairs is, I didn’t need to have breakfast or lunch. They are very generous about giving samples. But I couldn’t possibly try everything and had to prioritize. The first interesting thing I saw were these chocolate cylinders that reminded me of chocolate shawarmas. The shave the chocolate to make chocolate curls. Then they have this crepe maker where they add the chocolate shavings on the mini-crepes. They wait for it to melt, then fold and serve the crepes to attendees of the show. Chocolate flavors were dark chocolate and spearmint, called “spring,” dark chocolate and pumpkin, called “fall,” and white chocolate and peppermint, called “winter.”

Another cool thing I saw were these things called Loliware. They are Biodeg-“edible” cups. They come in different flavors such as natural, yuzu citrus, green tea matcha, vanilla bean, and tart cherry. They were featured on Shark Tank and are 100-percent plastic-free, gluten-free, gelatin-free, BPA-free, non-GMO, all-natural, non-toxic, safe, and FDA-approved. Made from seaweed and organic sweeteners, their flavors and colors are from vegetable and fruits. 

That day I found out that chefs Sau del Rosario and Edward Bugia were also in town for the NRA as part of a tour for the US Potato Board. I met them for a drink and some dancing that evening at the rooftop bar of their hotel, The Godfrey. I met chef Sau again for breakfast the next day before heading to the NRA show. 

Using the NRA Show app, I saw that chef Anne Burrell had a demo and book signing. I hurried to the stage where she was going to be. It took me a while to get there because I was carrying so many brochures with me. 

MILLIE: Celebrity chef Anne Burrell is a well-known American chef and TV personality, author, and host of the Food Network shows. Karla and I often watched her on Chefs Wanted, where she would help chefs audition for jobs at restaurants that were looking for executive chefs. It must have been one of the highlights of Karla’s NRA experience; I imagine her thrilled and so excited to meet chef Anne.

KARLA: I made it in time for chef Anne Burrell’s risotto demo. After the demo, I lined up for her book signing. They were selling two of her books on the spot and since I could not decide which to get, I got both. Haha! Silly me, since I had to carry them with me the whole day. I regret nothing; at least I got to meet her, shake her hand and have a photo with her.

Before she ended her demo, she addressed the audience and said, “Make good food, eat good food. Life is too short to eat bad food.” And I completely agree with her. This was my lolo’s philosophy as well. He lived to eat good food. 



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Send email to milliereyes.foodforthought@gmail.com and quichethecook.ph@gmail.com.

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