The Coast News Group

Locals share tasty ideas at convention

COAST CITIES — Local restaurateurs, suppliers, caterers and chefs gathered to share ideas, display their goods/services and to make new contacts at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo at the San Diego Convention Center from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.
During the current recession, restaurants have been hit hard as consumers taper down their discretionary spending.
“In these lean times, we must learn to redesign our menus or operate more efficiently,” said Jot Condie, president and CEO of the California Restaurant Association.
It is in this spirit of cooperation that the restaurant industry came together to support each other’s needs.
Vista-based U.S. Foodservice provides food and related products to more than 250,000 customers across the country. Clint Glaze was in charge of the company’s exhibit at the convention center. “It’s a spectacular crowd,” Glaze said. “This has exceeded our expectations.” U.S. Foodservices reached a new audience by demonstrating many of its food items that can be distributed across the county.
Personal chef and caterer Lance E. Roll of Carlsbad also attended the convention. Also known as The Flavor Chef, Roll was looking for eco-friendly containers for the food he caters and to discover new distributors. “The beef I found from a Montana supplier was simply the best I’ve ever tasted,” he said. “And it’s good to know how the cattle are handled and raised. It’s a very humane environment.”
Ariel Fernandez and Karen Slevinske, president of Restaurant Tea Service in Encinitas, enjoyed making new contacts as well as seeing old friends. “I’ve known some of these people for 23 years,” Slevinske said. “It’s a great excuse to get together. And it’s always fun to see what’s new out there.” The Restaurant Tea Service is a regular sponsor of the annual La Paloma Poetry Slam.
Garry Ridge, CEO and president of the WD-40 Company, was the keynote speaker at the food convention. A San Diego resident, Ridge collaborated with Ken Blanchard to write “Helping People Win at Work,” which was also the title of his speech that highlighted ways that the restaurant industry can “partner for performance.” Blanchard, also a local resident, is the bestselling author of “The One Minute Manager.”
Next year’s Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo will be held Aug. 14 to Aug. 16, 2010, in Los Angeles.