About 6,500 food buyers and distributors showed up at the 12th Annual Americas Food & Beverage Show in Miami Beach yesterday to check out food and drink products from close to 300 exhibitors from the U.S. to Algiers.
Walking around the huge marketplace at the Miami Beach Convention Center, we saw everything from Buddha's hands, Florida alligator meat, margaritas in a bag and what seemed like a plethora of energy drinks, vitamin waters and caffeinated energy bars -- guess we're one tired society.
Companies attend the show hoping to enter new markets across the U.S. and in Central and South America. Linsey Manning, owner of NecessiTeas, a fine tea company from Utah, was hoping to find a distributor for her products, which are currently only sold online. Like several other exhibitors we spoke to, this was her first time at the show.
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The expo also featured chef demos and competitions. We caught Red, the Steakhouse chef de cuisine, Peter Vauthy, touting the qualities of certified Angus beef as he prepared what he called the "ultimate surf and turf" - king crab and Angus Beef Prime - to an audience of buyers. Both are ingredients that he uses in his restaurant. In fact, Vauthy said he uses nothing but certified Angus Beef Prime at his South Beach locale.
Judges walked the floor of the competition kitchens checking everything from plate temperature to how the teams of two chefs that competed throughout the day broke down their stations after service. The teams were judged on: presentation and serving method; nutrition and portion size; taste, texture and flavor; and creativity, menu and ingredient compatibility.
So who took the title of Best Chef of the Americas? We won't know until today.
In the meantime, take a look at some more pictures...