Washington-based Fancy Food Show offers an industry inside look

July 12, 2011|By CHRIS COPLEY |

Smithsburg restaurant owner Rhoda Schiano Moriello reflected on her quick, one-day tour through the Fancy Foods Show in Washington, D.C.

It was a challenge to work her way through more than 2,000 exhibitors and tens of thousands of products.

"We definitely could've used another day," she said.

The annual Fancy Food Show is a festive trade show open to industry members and the press. The three-day event was held July 8 through 10 this year in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and is acres of colorful packaging, large logos, and clever marketing.

Thousands and thousands of delicious, food samples — confections, candies, cheeses, snacks, spices, international products, organic products and much more, where available.

The show gives food producers a chance to present their products to chefs, restaurant owners, grocers and distributors.

Schiano Moriello and her husband, Carmine Schiano Moriello, were two of more than 24,000 attendees at the show. The Schiano Moriellos own Carmine's Italian Restaurant in Smithsburg.

"Carmine was looking at all the different pastas," Rhoda Schiano Moriello said. "He likes the artisan pasta — the handmade, hand-cut pasta. He wants to incorporate those into the restaurant."

The couple also looked at gluten-free products, because they have customers who avoid gluten in their diets, Rhoda Schiano Moriello said. And they checked out possible new wines and new sources of traditional-style, buffalo-milk mozzarella cheeses.

John Gordon, co-owner of Gordon Grocery in Hagerstown's North End, is a regular at the Fancy Food Show. He looks for new products that might interest customers at his family's compact, neighborhood grocery store.

But mostly, he said, he looks for old friends — long-standing suppliers from whom he reorders popular products, such as DelGrosso Foods tomato sauces, snacks from The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg and Effie's Homemade tea biscuits. This year, Gordon said he wanted to check out Fisher's Popcorn, a company based in Ocean City, Md.

"Mostly, we just walk around," Gordon said. "It's so crowded, we don't get to see anything. It's just overwhelming."

Still, some trends caught Gordon's eye. He noticed many products mixing sweet and savory, such as wine-flavored ice cream. Other trendy, flavor-bending products included salted cookies, bacon-flavored brownies, maple-smoked salmon, single-malt-whiskey gelato, and quinoa-chocolate mousse.

"We saw (My Cup of Cake)," Gordon said. "It was a chocolate souffle mix you put in a coffee mug. You microwave it for three minutes and you have dessert."

Rhoda Schiano Moriello said she was awed by the inventiveness of new products, but also by the number of producers of traditional foods on display.

"We were surprised at how many cheeses and chocolates there were," she said. "Also, energy drinks. And (relaxing,) anti-energy drinks. That was a new thing."

Coming soon to a restaurant or store shelf near you.

For more about the Fancy Foods Show, go to

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