You meet the most interesting people around food. And I mean literally around it.
Over the last few days at COEX, we’ve stood around tables laden with interesting edibles, sneaking the occasional bite while we share stories, ideas, and pitches. And each bite is encouraged, commented on, shared—because we are all truly intriqued by others’ opinions about food.
Like the hotel chef who carefully sliced a nicely crisped edge of Cuban Rubbed Pork Tenderloin off for me, drizzled a little glaze over the top, and said, “Tell me what that is.”
As I first inhaled, then tasted, I knew it was familiar, but not common. He said, “First, do you like it?” When I acquiesced, he stood up tall, brandished his carving knife, and said, “It’s fig.” On trend, delicious, unusual, and worth being proud of.
Like the Corporate Executive Chef from McAlister’s, David Groll, who pointed out “the best thing in the room” during one of the receptions. He’d already done his own culinary tour of the stations and could point others to where to best spend their calories (thanks, Chef!).
And, like the many operators who handed over their business cards, encouraging us to “come visit anytime.”
There are a lot of innovative ideas and new experiments in dining happening out there. One of the most encouraging signs is that the industry is not simply sighing and ringing their collective hands over the economy, or the trend toward eating more at home and the resulting empty seats at the restaurant table. Instead, they are adjusting, promoting, connecting directly with their loyal customers, and remembering what it’s all about: quality food.
Michelle Barry with The Hartman Group told us, “It’s not about cost/value—it’s about quality. It’s what people want, and how they make their buying decisions.”
Culinary representatives from Red Lobster and from Golden Corral told us, “It doesn’t ever help to cut quality—that saves us no money.”
Shawn Taher of Taher, Inc. reminded us, “Our business is fun. People enjoy eating. The economy is what it is. Take a couple of aspirin and move on.”
It’s why we at The Food Channel not only show consumer news and information, but are developing our “Pro,” or foodservice, side of the industry as well. We help show consumers what is happening in the industry that affects them—we help with the transparency of getting the news out there.
So, get out there yourself, shake a few hands, eat some good food, and join us at next year’s COEX. You’ll meet the most interesting people.
See our wrap up video with scenes from the complete COEX conference:
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