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3 trends from the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show

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Restaurant and Foodservice

The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show rolled through Washington, D.C., during the weekend, bringing with it celebrity chefs, presenters and hundreds of exhibitors who showed off wares including kitchen utensils and gourmet food. The event was the show’s sixth in the nation’s capital.

Chef Paula Deen celebrated her fifth year with the D.C. show. The host of  Food Network’s “Paula’s Best Dishes” and “Paula’s Home Cooking” spoke to a packed Celebrity Theater at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday. Before cooking apple-stuffed pork tenderloin and her grandmother’s pound cake, Deen chatted with the audience about her grandchildren and her cruise in January. Fellow Food Network hosts Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis, as well as famous chef and food writer Jacques Pépin, also took the stage.

Attendees roamed the exhibition floor, where they sampled goods from more than 250 vendors.

  • Beverages were hot. Coffee and tea vendors were out in force, showing that hot beverages are an easy way to bring flavor and style. Organo Gold offered samples of coffee infused with ganoderma, a mushroom often used to promote health and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Inventi showed off canned coffee that can create a pitcher of iced coffee without the prep time needed for traditional methods. Elise Scott of Pearl Fine Teas led a tasting and entertaining workshop on pairing chocolate with tea.
  • Dips dominated. Appetizers and cocktails before the main event give guests a chance to talk and mingle, and dips and spreads create a perfect beginning. Foster Fine Foods presented an array of oil and jam from Chile, and Pennsylvania’s Breadspreads by Susan showcased homemade jam and mustard packaged in old-fashion mason jars.
  • Presentation prevailed. Entertaining is about an experience, not only food, and plenty of entertaining experts were on hand to make sure everything was presented with panache. Cheryl Najafi of CherylStyle, sponsor of the tasting and entertaining workshops, led a seminar on how to wrap festive holiday gifts and use them in food presentation. Martie Duncan of Martie Knows Parties focused on frugality during her workshop on how to have a “use-what-you-have holiday.” Leftover Halloween pumpkins were painted white and transformed into snowmen for winter, and old apples became votive candle holders. Most of Duncan’s project focused on reusing holiday leftovers, and she said she doesn’t tackle any project she can’t do “with spray paint, duct tape and glue.”