Throwback Thursday: Three Day Food and Networking Adventure: Healthy Food Expo/International Restaurant and Foodservice Expo and CoffeeFest

Hello everyone, it’s been a long time since I last posted, I don’t even remember when I wrote something here (that is really bad). I hope this post makes up for not posting since my review of this year’s NYC Winter Restaurant Week.

Over six weeks ago, I have had the privilege to attend my first Healthy Food Expo/International Restaurant and Foodservice Expo and CoffeeFest at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. This was a three day event and it was the best three days I have had in a long long time. I was honored to meet and learn from empowering chefs and health care professionals. It was so much connecting and reconnecting with people who share the same passion in food and healthy eating. There were food tasting and presentations. I went to 6 presentations that day and they were all amazing and inspiring. For the Healthy Expo I attended the presentation(s) entitled:

FRESH Food Tips for a Sustainable and Healthy Lifestyle, One Meal at a Time by Dr. Robert Graham who is a native New Yorker born and raised in Jackson Heights and now founder of Fresh Medicine an integrative health organization that address the root cause of medicine. FRESH Rx is made up of five components: food, relaxation, exercise, sleep and happiness – a recipe to health. The components are necessary to make the patient healthier. Check out their website and follow their Instagram and Twitter page: freshmednyc.

The Power Of Spices and Their Health Benefits by Dr. Kanchan Koya, Health Coach and founder of Spice Spice Baby which addresses evidence based science behind the health benefits of spices such as curcumin an active ingredient from in tumeric. Her presentation of spices and its health benefits are informative and resourceful. Check out her blog and follow her Instagram page: Chefspicemama and Twitter page: Kkoya.

For the International Restaurant and Foodservice Expo I attended four cooking demos by Chef Marcus Samuelson who made a pasta dish and a very tasty scallop dish while sharing his empowering and inspiring journey to pursuing his passion in the culinary arts. Now I am interested in reading his memoir titled “Yes, Chef: A Memoir” and hopefully one day this summer I can make a pit stop Red Rooster and try his famous fried chicken. Check out his website on his impressive accomplishments and follow him on Instagram and Twitter: marcuscooks.


SCALLOP CRUDO HIBISCUS, MACADAMIA

GARGANELLI SWEET POTATO, AYIB (sorry about the blurry photo, my hands were full)

The next day, I was ecstatic to attend cooking demos by thriving women chefs Anita Lo and Amanda Cohen. In addition, I learned how to make pasta in a food processor by Fabio Viviani and watched a Meatless Monday cooking competition. I enjoyed hearing Anita Lo talk and cook her awesome cauliflower chaat with almonds. Her story was inspiring because she is also a first generation Asian American who is living her passion. Unfortunately I did not make it to one of her initial restaurants Annisa, I was lucky to even win her new cookbook “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One” and replicate some of the recipes. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram and Twitter: AnitaLoNYC.


CAULIFLOWER CHAAT WITH ALMONDS – amazing dish and she made look so easy to make no wonder why she is a Michelin Star Chef, Iron Chef Winner against Bobby Flay and a Top Chef Master

Next I stayed to listened to Amanda Cohen’s story behind the ups and downs of starting a vegetarian restaurant and maintaining it. Her persistence, creativity and passion for cooking vegetables is remarkable and I have learned so many ways to utilize a simple vegetable such as a carrot. I have yet to eat at Dirt Candy but all my peers and friends that have eaten there raved about it and told me to eat there. Yes, Dirt Candy is on my bucket list as one of the restaurants to go to this year (God willing). I was impressed how Amanda created her famous and popular dish Carrot Risotto and Carrot Dumplings. She utilizes a lot of science and technique to make this dish high end while utilizing ingredients on a budget. I have tasted this dish and it was amazing. Unfortunately, I failed to get a good clear photo of this beautiful dish. Luckily I won her cookbook “Dirt Candy: A Cookbook” which contains this recipe and I sense a calling to replicate this dish. Check her restaurant’s website and follow the restaurant’s Instagram: dirtcandynyc and Twitter: dirtcandy.

Chef Cohen’s cooking demo was followed by Chef Fabio Viviani’s cooking demo on making fresh fettuccine with roasted pine nuts and basil pesto. He made fresh pasta using a food processor, his method was 4 tablespoons of flour per 1 large egg. His demo made it look so easy as it took about two minutes to create the dough on the food processor. After the dough is made, if the dough is too sticky and wet add more flour and if the dough is too grainy and starchy add a little water. I was so excited of how simple and quick to make fresh pasta that I tried it at home. Luckily I won his cookbook “Fabio’s 30 minute Italian” which contained the recipe of replicating the fresh pasta. I have attempted to make the fresh pasta, but more on that later. I felt that the demo was rushed and quick due to time constraints. In addition, he was also the judge for the next food demo – The Rapid Fire Challenge, among three chefs themed Meatless Monday. The winner wins $1000.

On to the Rapid Fire Challenge the three way battle of the best Meatless Monday dish. The challenge was judged by: Maria Loi, Cookbook Author, Greek Food Ambassador, and Healthy Lifestyle Expert; Peggy Neu, President of The Monday Campaigns ; Gennaro Pecchia, Co-Host of Rolands Food Court at Sirius XM and Chef Fabio Viviani who is also a restaurateur. The challenge started with Chef Patricia Washuta from Orlando, FL who presented the following dish: Impossible Meatless Kefta, which was creative, tasty, healthy, low carb and budget friendly. Check out her audition video of the dish on YouTube.

Impossible Meatless Kefta

The second dish was presented by Chef Heidi Liv Tompkins from Heidi’s Health Kitchen in New York, NY who presented her dish: Mock Tuna Recipe. The dish is gluten free, plant based, organic, paleo and therefore, healthy.

Mock Tuna Recipe (apologies for the blurred photo)

The final dish was presented by Chef Lisa Sereda from Wine Time based in Chico, CA who presented her Walnut “Meat” Stuffed Anaheim Pepper, which was my personal favorite because of its presentation and taste.

Walnut “Meat” Stuffed Anaheim Pepper 

After tough judging from Maria Loi and debates about the origin of food among the judges, the winning dish of the Rapid Fire Challenge was the Mock Tuna by Chef Heidi Liv Tompkins. Congratulations Chef Heidi!

In addition to the amazing talks and demos I have had the privilege to experience, I get to sample various food products from new businesses who are seeking to sell their products in US markets. There were so many amazing new products out there are creative and healthy. It was a honor to be a participant in tasting these products before they go out to the distributor(s).

My favorite savory tastings from the expo were the:

  • Aliments Mello Inc – Smoked Meat Brisket Sandwich – the meat melts like butter in your mouth
  • Synear Shrimp Supreme Dumpling promoted by Walong Marketing – Dumpling is really good; the filling was amazing; this brand does not skimp on the shrimp.
  • Mama’s in the Kitchen Breaded Shrimp was the perfect balance of shrimp with breading. The breading can be purchased online. They also have breading for chicken and fish.
  • Chef Fun Foods seasoned fries using the shake bags: these fries shakened with various flavors. My favorites were BBQ, garlic parmesan and sour cream and onion.
  • BeItalian Meatballs and pecorino in cooked wine – these meatballs were freshly cooked and very authentic. The dish was a collaborative effort organized by Lombardia Fiere.
  • VegeWorld Vegetarian meats from Malaysia and I was impressed by the taste of the products. My favorites were the Vegetarian Lamb, Vege Roasted Chicken and Vege Hawaiian Chicken.
  • Gianni’s Chicken Burgers were awesome chicken burgers made locally in Long Island. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture, but I can testify that I will be ordering these burgers online. In addition, their burgers are sold at local supermarkets in White Plains and Huntington. My personal favorites were Jalapeno Popper Chicken Burgers and Original Chicken Spinach Burger.

My top 5 sweet tastings from the expo were the:

  • Mochidoki Green Tea and Passion Fruit Mochi Ice Cream – great healthy dessert; a perfect end to my savory food tastings. Mochidoki has 12 flavors and some of their products are sold at Turnstyle Underground Market and you can place an order online that includes all 12 flavors.
  • Carubies Decadent Carob Truffles from Heidi’s Health Kitchen is a healthy and tasty truffle. Who knew that these truffle chocolates are plant-based and gluten free? This means that the products are soy free, dairy free, and caffeine free. These truffles can be purchased online on their website. Personally the best buy is their original flavor for $20 which has 20 pieces.
  • Everyday Gourmet Bakery Cookies were so good. Did you know that they are vegan, kosher, non-GMO, and made with whole grains? In addition, they are nutritious with a good amount of protein and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron and manganese. These cookies can be purchased online and the best buy is the 2 box pack only for $5.
  • Wateke Foods is new company based in Florida who produces various products especially guacamole, acai, frozen fruits and beverages. I only tried the acai which was fresh and good. I have yet to try the guacamole, but based on their high tech technology, the product still looks fresh and I can’t wait to eat with my chips.
  • Pure Crumb is another local product developed by a NYC Fitness Trainer containing less calories and a perfect snack to satisfy a sweet craving. Plus, it’s gluten free and only 150 calories. They come in two flavors: banana bread and chocolate brownie. My favorite was the chocolate brownie. The products are sold online and are currently on sale for $24 for 8 pack and $44 for 16 pack.
  • Earth Effect Frozen Greek Yogurt is a local sustainable product that is healthy. They are a new company in search for partners and manufacturers to support their mission. The frozen yogurt comes in five flavors: tart with dates and pistachios, chocolate with coconut brittle and sliced almonds, Taihitian vanillia with strawberry jam and chocolate, maple and maple pecans and coffee with hazelnut butter and chocolate. I have had tried all five flavors and my favorites were: Taihitian vanillia with strawberry jam and chocolate, coffee with hazelnut butter and chocolate and chocolate with coconut brittle and sliced almonds.

After eating and sampling all the foods at the event, I have had to stay hydrated with drink samples from various companies both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Below were my favorites:

  1. Figspresso is a plant-based, gluten-free beverage based in Long Island made from dried and roasted figs. This beverage is deceivingly healthy and it would serve as a great alternative for coffee and tea.
  2. Dandy Lion Tea is an organic tea made from dandylions and fruit. They come in two flavors: cherry and peach. It is kosher and organic. Did you know that dandelion is good for digestion and detox? I’ve tasted both flavors and my personal favorite was cherry.
  3. Saratoga Spring Sparkling Water is spring water made locally in Saratoga Springs. The company has been around since 1872!
  4. Cliffton Dry Wine Cider is a vegan, low calorie, low sugar, gluten free and low alcoholic beverage. It is a sparkling wine equivalent to prosecco but made with locally grown apples from the New York’s Finger Lakes Region. This beverage was really good and they’re accessible in some NYC restaurants and Whole Foods.
  5. Senor Sangria is sangria mixed with natural ingredients with either merlot for the red sangria, sauvignon blanc for white sangria and syrah for their new flavor: apple raspberry. I tried all three flavors and they all tasted great, but apple raspberry was my favorite. What’s interesting about their new flavor is that there is no sugar in this sangria making it more healthy.
  6. Brooklyn Crafted Herbal Teas and reTreat Juices are beverages manufactured by Brooklyn Food and Beverage, which is based in Bushwick community in Brooklyn. The herbal teas were pretty good; I have only tried the chrysanthemum and hibiscus herbal flavors. However, the reTreat juices were the standouts for me as the fruits came from places such Thailand. I was excited and enjoyed the mangosteen flavors of these juices. These teas and juices can be found in some local supermarkets.
  7. Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Beer is manufactured by Brooklyn Food and Beverage, which is based in Bushwick community in Brooklyn. The ginger beers were legit meaning is that they are made with real natural ingredients and cane sugar and has the right amount of kick for each level of spice intensity. They can be found in some markets in Brooklyn and used in some restaurants in the city to make cocktails such as the mule.
  8. Kelvin Slush Company is a local organic cocktail mix that is non-GMOs and has no high fructose corn syrup. It is also vegan, kosher and gluten free. So I had tasted some of the flavors, but my favorite was the aperol spritz and frose. The cocktail mix come in various flavors and they are all available on Amazon.
  9. Asarasi is sparkling tree water that is plant-based. This naturally produced water comes in five flavors. My favorites were mango and cherry. All five flavors are available for purchase on their website.
  10. Graft Cider is a company that makes gluten free ciders. These ciders are produced in New York by two siblings. I have had three flavors and my favorite was the Lost Tropic which is a hop mimosa cider. These ciders can be purchased at various restaurants and local markets.

There’s a lot more I have sampled, but unfortunately I did not have good pictures. Overall, it was a honor to connect with people who share the same passion of food, health and medicine. I hope that I will be able to see their products in the US markets and stores so people can enjoy them.

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