BY STEFANI DIAS
The Bakersfield California
Jul 7, 2017
While companies from around the globe descend on New York to set national trends, the San Joaquin Valley has its own gathering of what’s up and coming in local foods. For the seventh year, this two-day event serves as the nation’s largest and only regional food show.
More than 150 valley food growers, producers, brewers and winemakers — including our own Kern Ridge Growers — are expected at the expo on July 26 and 27, which also draws nearly 1,000 local, regional, national and international buyers.
A leader in the carrot industry for more than 35 years, Kern Ridge has been with the expo since 2012 and seen it grow.
“The show initially was pretty small but it’s really grown,” Kern Ridge sales manager Andrew Bianchi told The Californian before last year’s event. “There is a lot of participation from growers and shippers.”
Much of the expo is industry-driven, but in recent years it has added Expolicious, a food-tasting event open to the general public highlighting the best area products.
In addition to returning attendees, one famous fan of the valley’s bounty is also scheduled to appear: Simon Majumdar. The celebrity chef and author — known for judging such cooking shows as “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “Beat Bobby Flay” and “The Next Iron Chef” — attended last year’s expo and was so taken by the experience he’s returning to participate.
Majumdar has made a name for himself as a proponent of exploring regional cuisine. With a mission of “go everywhere, eat everything,” he has documented his adventures in three books, touring his homeland (“Eating for Britain”) and international spots (“Eat My Globe”) then exploring the United States (“Fed, White, and Blue: Finding America With My Fork”).
At a preview event with Fresno restaurants last month, the chef reiterated his amazement with what the region offers.
” … Central California is a hidden gem with a rising food scene that people absolutely need to take notice. The quality and array of products I discovered was incredible and the talent among chefs in the region is on par with San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“I am excited to return this year, connect with these companies to see how their products are doing and continue to be part of telling the story of the incredible food culture brewing in this vibrant region.”
He will take part in the July 27 public event at which attendees can sample and enjoy hundreds of delicious food and beverage products including fresh fruit, wine, beer, ice cream, cheese, barbecue sauce and more from an array of area companies.
In addition to the chef, “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert will also attend the expo, serving as keynote speaker on July 26 at an address for buyers, sponsors and exhibitors. For more than 25 years, Lempert has served as an expert analyst on consumer behavior and retail trends, identifying and explaining impending trends to influential business leaders in the food industry.