Special Events, New Product Announcements, and Culinary Competitions Were All Part of the 44th Annual Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show

ORLANDO, FL, October 14, 2015 – Thousands of restaurant and foodservice industry professionals enjoyed three days of tasting new products, meeting with new vendors and attending educational programs offering new concepts at the 44th annual Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show which was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando October 6-8, 2015.   The event was sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, a partner of the National Restaurant Association.  

“The energy and excitement on the show floor was fantastic, fueled by all of the special events, new product announcements, and culinary competitions,” said Ron Mathews, Industry Vice President for the Foodservice Events. "It was a great event and we thank our exhibitors, our attendees, our speakers, our partners including the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, American Culinary Federation and our distributor partners Cheney Brothers, Gordon Food Service, Performance Foodservice and Sysco.”

Highlights of the event, included:
  • Torch Award presentation to Norman Van Aken – The Food Shows and Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum presented the Torch Award to Norman Van Aken, founder of NORMAN’s at the Ritz Carlton Orlando for his contributions to the industry who accepted the award and then prepared a Shrimp Ceviche with Salsa of Life in the Culinary Demonstration Theater in front of a standing room only crowd.
  • The Winners of the People's Choice Awards for the Innovative New Product Gallery were announced. Thousands of attendees voted for their favorite products. The overall winner for Best in Show was Fresh Origins for their new products including Mushroom Leaf and Leaf Sorrel Butterfly Purple. The 1st place runner up was Creative Carding for their innovative gift card boxes and folders; and the 2nd place runner up was Madhouse by Michael Aram for their dinnerware collection. The winner of the Best New Product in the Food Trends Experience was Ashlynn’s Gourmet for their Honey Habanera Glaze. In addition, Cesar Quintero, COO and Founder of Fit2Go of Miami, won a $500 shopping spree on the show floor.
  • The new Beer, Wine & Spirits Pavilion met the demand from restaurant and foodservice professionals seeking access to the alcoholic beverage component of the market.  It provided the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the producers and distributors of adult beverages and enhanced our attendees’ learning and sourcing opportunities. Featured brands included: MillerCoors, Blue Moon, Jim Beam Brands, Heaven Hill Brands, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Constellation Brands, D.G. Yuengling & Sons to name a few.  The official ingredient sponsor of the Pavilion was the Florida Department of Citrus. 
  • Pitch the Press- Several industry journalists scoured the show floor on the opening day to find some of the most unique and interesting new products and then invited the exhibitors to present a two-minute pitch to a room full of editors in the first annual Pitch the Press Event.   Products that were pitched included:
    • Ashlynn’s Gourmet’s Sweet Honey Habanero Glaze
    • BikeCruz’ Pedal Party
    • Buffet Burners’ Industry Heating Table
    • Cheer Wine’s Soda Water
    • El Marisol’s Chocolate Tortilla
    • Flatware Saver’s flatware/ramekins finder
    • Flow Menu’s New Mobile Payment System
    • Gelato Petrini New Flavors including Gianduia, Vanilla Bean and Caramel Macchiato
    • Heineken USA’s BrewLock Draught Beer System
    • Hoshizaki Southeastern’s Cres Series Refrigerated Equipment Stand
    • Leafware’s Palm Leaf Utility Tray/Mini Trays
    • NatureSeal’s product for Avocado’s to last for five days
    • Rao’s Specialty’s Lemon Cooking Sauce
    • Strahl’s Bar Butler and Shot Glass
    • The Catering Box’ The Safe and Professional Way to Transport Food
    • The Mushroom Guy’s Mushrooms packed for 21 day shelf life
    • Tony Chachere’s Bloody Mary Mix
  • The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) celebrated the stars of Florida’s hospitality industry at its Shades of Pink Installation and Awards Gala on Wednesday, October 7, 2015. During the ceremony, FRLA announced its 2016 Executive Committee and unveiled its 2015 Hall of Fame along with other industry award winners, which included the 2015 Hotelier of the Year, Russ Kimball, Sheraton Sand Key, Clearwater, and the 2015 Restaurateur of the Year: Chris Christini, Christini’s Ristorante Italiano, Orlando. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Susan G. Komen Central Florida to help fund breast cancer research. Lino Maldonado, Vice President of Operations for Wyndham Vacation Rentals, was named FRLA’s 2016 Chairman of the Board. Click here for the FRLA Press release.
  • Attendees took advantage of the 30+ education sessions offered at The Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum.  Panel discussions included the Women’s Entrepreneur Circle with panel speakers Kathleen Wood, Kathleen Wood Partners, Betsy Craig, MenuTrinfo, and Sandy Korem, The Catering Coach; the new Catering and Events Track presented by Catering Magazine as well as sessions led by David Scott Peters, The Restaurant Expert and Darren Denington, from Service with Style Hospitality Group in the Education Station on the show floor. 
  • Top Chefs faced off to create dishes with mystery ingredients in the Rapid Fire Challenge sponsored by Brandt Beef.  Competing chefs included Hari Pulapaka, Cress; Richard Deivert, Keiser University; Elizabeth Kublalsingh, Le Cordon Blue; Eric Diaz, Le Cordon Bleu and the winner of the event was James McGuinness from Keiser University.
  • The 2015 American Culinary Federation Culinary Arts Competition presented medals in several categories:
    • R.L Schreiber Apprentice/Jr  Member Florida State Champion Team Skills:
      • Gold:  Le Cordon Bleu, Miami, Florida
      • Silver:  Keiser University Sarasota, Sarasota ,Florida
      • Bronze: Le Cordon Bleu Orlando, Florida 
    • A.C.F. Central Florida Chapter/ FreshPoint  Farm to Table Vegetarian Signature Recipe Competition :
      • Gold: Pete Imiah, Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando, Florida 
      • Silver: Michael Priola CEC,AAA Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa- Tampa, Florida 
      • Bronze: Tie Cindy Mongalo & Denny Roach @ at  Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando, Florida
    • Taste of Elegance Signature Pork Recipe Competition:
      • Gold: Jacob Adamonis
      • Silver: Michael Priola CEC,AAC    
      • Bronze: Juan Cruz 
    • The New Two Man Team USA Culinary Cup Team Competition:
      • Gold: 2 winners—Bohemian Club & Universal Team #2 
      • Silver: 2 winners—Universal Team #3 & Le Cordon Bleu, Atlanta  
      • Bronze: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
    • The Florida Pastry Challenge:
      • Gold: Student – Carolina Neeves and Rossi Figueiredo, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Orlando; Professional - Raymond Blanchard III, The Everglades Club, Palm Beach
      • Silver: Student – Priscilla Caban Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando; Professional – Hannah McBride The Everglades Club, Palm Beach, Florida
      • Bronze: Student- Clemil Lucy Gomez,  Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando; Professional - Angie Chung Chefs deFrance, Walt Disney World, Orlando
  • At the close of the Show, the exhibitors of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show donated thousands of pounds of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, a private, nonprofit organization that collects and distributes donated food to more than 500 nonprofit partner agencies in six Central Florida counties
About The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show
The 2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show will be held Tuesday, September 27 - Thursday, September 29, 2016 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.  The Show is produced and managed by Urban Expositions, and sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.  Urban Expositions produces several other foodservice events including the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York to be held Sunday, March 6 - Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York and The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo will be held Sunday, August 28 - Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  For more information on exhibiting or attending future events visit the official Show website at www.thefoodshows.com.

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