Postscript to All Things Baking

Baking and food service professionals (caterers, chocolatiers, pastry chefs, cake decorators), culinary students, savvy and also newbie bakers, restaurateurs, café owners, and pastry/culinary suppliers converge in Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convenience Center for the October 2-4, 2011 All Things Baking Trade Show.

What Worked:

*Online pre-registrations (Quick Reg confirmation/barcode) for the trade show made it so easy to pick up the badge and registration materials at the Welcome booth.

*There were long lines to expert-led hour-long baking seminars or sessions (I attended the Wedding Cake Trends and Ideas to check out how bakeries adapt to price conscious brides/grooms for their wedding cakes as well as cake trends and alternative options to traditional cakes).

*World Pastry Champion Chef Dimitri Fayard handled nicely a packed huge crowd on the show floor for his demo of making the perfect French Macaron.  Chef Payard started his macaron-demo by making an Italian meringue, provided the recipe ingredients in weight/grams (preferred than cups and spoons measures) and finished his almond macarons with buttercream and raspberry filling.  (Only wished recipes were handed out instead of enumerating the ingredients a number of times).   Free Expert-led Baking and Decorating Demos also included Decorating with Piping Gel, Italian Breads, Chocolate Decorations, French Petit fours, Etc.

*The exhibition booths were all busy: Shell egg breaking machine from ADSI Inc., Barry Callebaut’s premium chocolates display, Chef Rubber’s pastry chefs’ specialty items, Lesaffre Yeast Corporation’s premium yeast for sweet breads (whatever happened to my free sample is still a mystery; I was hoping to use it with Filipino butter & egg-rich ensaimada bread and to date it still remains missing), Satin Fine Foods and its wonderfully-friendly fondant expert/salesperson,  Gardner Pie Co (I tasted old-fashioned pecan pie, Glenn had tomato pie, yummy!).

*Lovely cake displays (cupcakes, funcakes, single-layer cakes and tiered cakes) were such a huge attraction.  It was a festival of fondant-covered cakes.  Breads and pastries too.

What Didn’t Work:

*Dawn Foods Booth earned my 2 thumbs up for the free coffee and donuts.  Some booths’ cakes and breads were “for display only”.  One booth even confided the cupcakes were just ordered from Jewel-Osco (really!).  The designated concession area was more busy and had longer lines than most of the exhibitor booths…there were just not enough food tastings and samplings in the trade show.

*A really large bag was handed out during registration, big enough to house a heavy-duty Kitchen Aide mixer.  And at the end of the day…freebies were mostly dough scrapers (I had more than a dozen from a dozen exhibitor booths) and pens.   Product samples in packets were in absentia (you could really see some disappointments in lots of guests’ faces), say, sachets or small packs of instant yeasts, piping gel, fondant, ground almonds, chocolates, cookies, gumpaste flowers, etc.  Not sure then the need for a really really huge bag.

*Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus Cake Decorating contestants in action and showing off their best cake decorating skills with wedding, custom design and sculpted cakes was supposed to be a wonderful addition to the trade show.   But since interaction with the cake decorators were not allowed, there was really nothing much to enjoy from stopping by at the competition area, other than taking snapshots of finished cakes.

The 2012 trade show moves to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX, Sept. 6-9.

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