Saturday, March 20, 2010

Re-Coining a Term

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Re-Coining a term

We found the the holy grail! We were walking down one of the aisles of the show and there it stood:

It's the perfect gift. It makes for an excellent story. It even leads itself to a picture and a puzzle.

Can you guess what it is?

1000 Foodies, but only Food Court Chow

As part of our continuing education into the food business, the auntieChef team went to our first professional conference. I've been to a a number of conferences in the past, both as an attendant and as a booth worker. All of these conferences were technical in nature, whether for electronics or software. This one was different. The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York had the same format of rows upon rows of booths with companies showing their wares, but in this case the wares were food. And you got to sample their ice cream, mango liquor or fried squid.

The show is the place where companies showcase their food, machinery or other services for the restaurant business. For example, if you were looking for commercial quantities of Soy or Green tea or specialty Wasabi or silverware for your restaurant or prize Wisconsin Cheese or Organic Pork or prime beef or chef's knives or flat bread or even a company to do the interior decoration for you, that's the place to find them. They were all there, and you got to sample the Wasabi or Fortune cookie. But not the interior designer.

And the only food to buy was in the Javitz Center's food court. Kind of ironic, that.

And walking down one of these isles is where we found the holy grail, the can that generated a few days of gratuitous jokes, the can that will re-coin a phrase, the little can that could!

Any guesses so far?

Hint - the back of the can has a green star that looks like a quality seal. Looking closely you find that it was approved by one of the US veterans associations!

Recruiting Chefs

Last week we visited the French Culinary Institute's career fair. The school runs intensive accredited cooking classes of 6-9 months, specializing in either French cooking, Italian cooking or Pastries. A couple of weeks back we did a tour of their classrooms and kitchens (4-5 separate ones) and were very impressed. The career fair is where students and alums of the school come to meet restaurant owners and HR reps from restaurant chains who are looking for cooks for their kitchens.

I couldn't help but contrast this fair with the the ones I was used to in technical schools:

First, this is a culinary school. The school has a restaurant (L'Ecole), that lets the students try out a real restaurant setting. They work in the kitchen while a professional staff mans and womans) the front of the restaurant. As recruiters in the fair, we were invited to a free lunch. All I can say is - exquisite. French food done well.

Then, there was a distinct power structure to the fair that's not as visible in tech fairs. In a technology fair, you'd go up to a recruiter, take a seat (or you'd both stand if there aren't any seats) and talk to them about what you want to do, while the recuiter will tell you about the company.

Here, all of us recruiters sat down around the room, while students and graduates circulated and gave their resumes to the interviewers. There was a clear distinction between the sitting-down employers and the supplicant students standing trembling before them. We were surprised to see that we were the only people (at least in the room we were in) that would stand up to talk to the students.

We were also the odd-company out since we weren't really recruiting anyone. We were there to tell them about our site and encourage them to check it out and sign up.

The students we talked to were fascinating. There's no fixed age, since it's not a typical post-high-school college. For many of the chefs it's a second or even third career. We've met the guy who cooked since he was little, the woman who was an actress, then an administrative assistant and is now a chef, and the ex-MBA come consultant that decided cubicle life is not for him.

If you're in town, check out the restaurant, L'Ecole.

To Re-coin that term

And now, back to our restaurant show discovery: Introducing, drum-roll please, Canned Bread.

Yes bread.

This Japanese company has found a way to can bread. It stays "fresh" for 3 or so months and comes in a number of flavors.
They are looking for ways to market it, and their posters had such awesome suggestions as "for survival", "for long hiking trips" and "great as a giveaway at shows". We took one. As you can see - it was a great giveaway at the show :)

So remember - it's "The best thing since Canned bread"

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