The New England Food Show NEFS
Yesterday we attended the 2017 New England Food Show or NEFS for short, and as usual it was a great experience.
Going to the NEFS is an event every Foodie should experience at least once in their lives. The NEFS is a food show geared almost exclusively toward restaurants its true. So whay should I go you ask? Because its enlightening, it’s an eye into the back house of the restaurant world and an indication of food trends. You will see equiptment, like commercial refrigerators, ovens, commercial deep fryers, and espresso machines. There are companies that provide front of the house software, linen companies, trash companies, and financial companies that specialize in the restaurant business. But then there’s the food! There are coffee companies, juice companies, meat farms from out west, Importers from all over the world bringing in specialty products from overseas and more prepared food then you would see at the largest Home Town Buffet. Some of it is actually quite good. For a foodie like me it gives you perspective, an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. Let me give you some examples…
There are companies that make precooked packaged food and I’m sure you are familiar with some of the frozen items like sausage patties used to make a common breakfast sandwich. In the last few years these have become available on the retail side which is good if you have an unhealthy addiction to sausage egg and cheese croissants. But there are also many things you are not
so familiar with like fire charred onion rings in vacuum bags and precooked sliced chicken that was once grilled. Why should I care you ask. Well lets look at how many times the average person gets fast food from a non chain. You might believe because your pretty baguette sandwich has char grilled onions along with that brie and apple, that those onions are cooked daily in house. Now I’m not necessarily saying that these products are bad, but I am saying know what you are paying for and putting into your body.
Take a look at this display, it was the booth for La Marca and sons, they provide bread to restaurants. They are like a bread wholesaler and a fine company too. You may even be familiar with some of their bread like Piantedosi. Piantedosi is a fantastic large scale bakery who wholesales their bread directly to restaurants as well as through companies like La Marca. Now some of this is logistics and gets kind of complicated but understand how many companies touch a product you eat regularly and need to make a profit on it before you get to eat it. Im not suggesting the market system is bad, I understand why we need distributors in between the suppliers, it helps get you product fresher in many cases. But it can also tell you why 80% of the pizza shops in your home town all make subs on the same bread. They all use the same local supplier!
When I was a restaurateur I like to try and find new and interesting quality products that I thought my guests would enjoy. That is what most of the show is about. Its a show of inspiration, of creativity. It’s a cornucopia of ideas for chefs to frolic and play with. If you were unable to attend this year I encourage you to look for it next year. The show always comes to Boston around the same time. Even though I have no plans to own a restaurant again, I won’t be missing these shows for years to come.