Celebrity Chefs Dazzle at I-X Center's Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland

November 11, 2012

Rachel Wimberly

Rachel Wimberly is president and editor-in-chief of Trade Show News Network. Follow her on Twitter - TSNN_Rachel.

Upwards of 30,000 attendees flocked to the Fabulous Food Show Nov. 9-11 at Cleveland’s International Exposition (I-X) Center to not only see celebrity chefs such as Michael Symon, Guy Fieri and Jacques Pépin, but also sample delicacies ranging from chocolate-covered bacon to an array of regional cheeses.

The annual show is one of seven owned and produced by the I-X Center, along with the collocated By Hand Fine Art & Craft Fair – a juried show with vendors from across the United States.

Guy Fieri, restaurateur, author and star of several Food Network shows, has a special connection to Ohio as his birthplace and gave shout outs to some of his family members in the audience.

Fieri dazzled a packed crowd in the 2,000-seat Main Kitchen Theatre, saying, “This is one of the best food shows there is … These people are food freaks here!”

After making a creamsicle vodka martini he shared with some of the audience members, Fieri demonstrated how to brine a turkey correctly and make a vegetarian bulgur salad.

Attendee Sherry Botta from Twinsburg, Ohio, said it was her first time at the Fabulous Food Show.

“It’s awesome!”, she added. “It’s really fun to see the stuff and try the different samples of everything. We also went and saw Guy on stage. It was so fun.”

Fieri was one of several celebrity chefs who performed during the three-day weekend. Others included a local Cleveland-born chef and restaurateur, who also won the “Iron Chef America” competition – Michael Symon – as well as Jacques Pépin, a best-selling author, who used to cook alongside Julia Childs on PBS,  and Anne Burrell – another popular Food Network star, among others.

Jeremy Levine, director of events for the I-X Center and executive director of the Fabulous Food Show, said the event launched in 2006 and has grown incrementally every year since to more than 30,000 attendees and 225-plus exhibitors.

The event is the culmination of Cleveland Culinary Celebration Week, a city that in recent years has really embraced the culinary arts, he added.

Besides the celebrity chef demonstrations and food exhibitors, there also were sections for chocolate, wine and beer tastings, along with other stages and specialty areas set up around the perimeter of the showfloor.

“We have a nice flow moving across the floor (to create) the whole experience,” Levine said.

Exhibitors, such as The Cheese Knife’s Renee Clifton, who was at the show for the first time, gave the event high marks.

“It’s been really good,” she added. “When they get a chance to try our product they really like it. It’s one of those things you have to demo, and this is a great place for that.”

The By Hand Fine Art & Craft Fair, which was collocated with the food show a few years ago and the public is able to attend at no charge, brings an extra element to the entire event.

“There are over 500 fine food and fine art exhibitors at the show,” Levine said.

Brad Gentille, president and COO of I-X Center, said it was all of the components of the show that made it a success.

“It’s everything from fine arts to fine food to fine wine to fine beer,” he added.

Levine said the collocated events offered something for everyone, adding, “I believe the foundation of why we have events is to create a unique experience (people) can’t get anywhere else.”

Besides the Fabulous Food Show and By Hand Fine Art & Craft Fair, the I-X Center owns five other shows, such as the I-X Center Trick or Treat Street geared toward Halloween and the I-X Center Christmas Connection show, to name a few.

“The over-arching goal of this company is to provide family entertainment, as well as produce world-class trade shows,” Gentille said.

The I-X Center, with its 1,000,000 gross square feet of space and 77 foot ceilings, is located adjacent to the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Besides consumer shows, it also hosts trade events including the International Tire Exhibition & Conference and the Converting & Package Printing Expo.

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