Thousands of highly qualified industry professionals attend the florida restaurant & lodging show and healthy food expo florida

Thousands of highly qualified industry professionals attend the florida restaurant & lodging show and healthy food expo florida

Recap of Awards Presentations, Cooking Demos and Celebrity Chef Appearances

ORLANDO, FL, September 18, 2018 – Last week chefs, industry leaders, owners and operators from the restaurant and foodservice industry networked and conducted business with over 400 exhibiting companies during the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show which was co-located with Healthy Food Expo Florida. The robust trade show and conference offered a collection of the best new food, equipment and technology, awards presentations, education sessions, and cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs. The event is owned by Clarion UX and sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. 

“We saw the number of qualified buyers increase to 94% of the total attendance–walking the aisles looking to buy new products, equipment and services for their restaurants and foodservice establishments and experience for the first time the new Healthy Food Expo Florida." said Tom Loughran, Vice President for the Clarion UX food & beverage event portfolio. “We are also pleased to announce that based on exhibitor and attendee research we will be moving the show to a two-day event in 2019, taking place Sunday, September 15 and Monday, September 16.”

The inaugural Healthy Food Expo Florida was a highlight of the event and focused on healthy, natural and organic food products. Attendees had access to a new “Healthy” conference program that educated restaurant, foodservice and retail professionals about the newest trends and practices in the health food industry-everything from gluten-free and allergen-free to vegan, vegetarian and plant-based foods and products.

The ACF Central Florida Chapter held several Culinary Arts Competitions including the Scott Joseph “Next Big Thing” Sous Chef Competition; the 2018 Florida ProStart Best Grilled Cheese; the Give Kids the World’s O-Town MacDown, and the Farm to Table Signature Vegetarian Recipe Competitions; as well as the Taste of Elegance Pork Signature Recipe Competition, the Duck Recipe Competition, the Wedding Cake; Chocolate & Sugar Centerpiece and Pastillage and Marzipan.










Clarion UX VP Tom Loughran presented Allen Susser, Chef and Owner of Chef Allen’s Consulting with the Torch Award for his outstanding knowledge and leadership, philanthropic and community efforts, extraordinary talent, creativity, innovation and inspiration. In addition, Kathleen Wood moderated the Foodservice Council for Women panel discussion with a dynamic group of women including Letty Alvarez, Founder/Pastry Chef of LA Sweetz; Emily Ellyn, Retro Rad TV Chef and National Brand Spokesperson; Ingrid Hoffman, Host of Top Estrellas and Delicioso; Mareya Ibrahim, Entrepreneur, Chef, Partner, Investor; and Wendy Lopez, Executive Chef of Tapa Toro. Kathleen then presented the Beacon Award to Kathleen Blake, Chef/Owner of The Rusty Spoon for her leadership, contributions to the industry and philanthropic efforts.

During the show, attendees voted in several categories in the Product Showcase. The Overall Winner was Noi Caffe for their Extra Small Coffee Shop; The 1st Place Runner Up was Oumph! a 100% plant based product that comes in a variety of shapes and consistencies; The 2nd Place Runner Up was Blue Hippo Creations for their products designed to enhance a marketing message through unique furnishings and displays; and Best New Product in the Food Trends Experience was Honey Feast for their naturally based honey in a variety of flavors.

Editors from Catering Magazine, Today’s Restaurant News and The TASTE of Tampa Bay identified 12 innovative new products that were presented to the media and buyers. The best new product from Pitch the Press was FoodStiks for their wood compostable cutlery.





















Industry professionals were also able to compete in two challenges with cash prizes. Chef Patricia Washuta of Gentry Park Orlando won the Rapid Fire Challenge: Chicken, Honey and Beer Edition where chefs submitted their best dishes featuring chicken, honey and beer to be judged by a panel of three esteemed industry judges and a live audience. The emcee was Shaun O’Neale, Season 7 Champion of MasterChef.   Garett Hagan of The Twisted Tuna won Hip Sip: Battle of the Modern Bartender, where bartenders put their best drink recipes to the test in front of judges and a live audience. The emcee was Alex Barranco, Bar Set Up & Beverage Menu Creations Consultant.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show offered 40+ education sessions on operational excellence, marketing & social media, hot trends and building a winning team, plus several workshops including Darren Dennington, Service with Style Hospitality Group on How to be a Rockstar Restaurant; Sommelier Tom Fisher’s Why Whiskey; MenuTrinfo Betsy Craig’s AllerTrain; Fit Foodie Mareya Ibrahim’s Power Up Yoga and several culinary demonstrations.













About Clarion UX Restaurant & Foodservice Shows

The 2019 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, will be co-located with the Healthy Food Expo Florida, and will take place Sunday, September 15 and Monday, September 16, 2019 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. The show is owned and managed by Clarion UX (  and sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association ( Clarion  UX produces several other foodservice events including The NGA Show taking place February 24-27, 2019 at the San Diego Convention Center; The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York which will be co-located with the Healthy Food Expo and Coffee Fest and will be held Sunday, March 3 - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at the Javits Center in New York; and the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, co-located with Healthy Food Expo West and Coffee Fest will be held Sunday, August 25 through Tuesday, August 27 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more information on exhibiting or attending future events visit the official Show website at