I look forward all year to the March International Housewares Show. Not only do I get to present my product line, I also get to see old friends, and see what has evolved and what is new in kitchen products. This year was especially important to me as I'm so involved in designing the new baker's kitchen and wanted to make sure I would be the best equipment. The magnitude of the show is enormous. It features 2100 exhibitors showing thousands of new products so I knew it would be a challenge to hit all the places I wanted to see. Here are the highlights (as photographed by Woody Wolston): I was thrilled to meet William Tan, Gary Fallowe's designer for NewMetro Design. Gary had been singing his praises for years and I was utterly charmed by his sweet and forthcoming personality in addition to his creative talent. Woody's peppered spice cookies provided an additional attraction for our booth. He made over 400 of them! Most people noticed the incredible explosion of time released flavors from the different spices. (These will be in our upcoming book!) Chef Tom Woodbury did a really fun interview for his show The Daily Meal. Another major highlight of the show was meeting Steve Quinn, Special Sales Representative for my new publisher Hougton Mifflin. I learned that he sold my book The Cake Biblewhen he was at WIlliam Morrow years ago. I was delighted by how enthusiastic he is about our upcoming Baking Bible.
I spent several hours at the Harold Import Company (Harold's Kitchen) visiting old friends and showing my new silicone Rose's Baking Bowl. I got to chat with my dear friend Elizabeth Karmel who was presenting her line Grill Friends. I made an immediate note to get her grill basket. Elizabeth was the one who introduced me to owner Robert Laub so that I could create my ideal pie plate (see Rose's Perfect Pie Plate in the photo below). It has become so popular, Robert keeps introducing beautiful new colors. I was happy to see another old friend, Robert's right hand woman Pamela Plancher. And what a great surprise to see a former student from when I had the Cordon Rose Cooking School many years ago. Robert Laub dedicated a major part of his booth for C-Cap (Careers through Culinary Arts Programs). Up and coming culinary students from Chicago high schools demo'd food and kept us fed with perfectly executed omelets. It was both touching and impressive. I was so excited finally to meet Buddy the Cake Boss, that I didn't realize there was a long line that I was cutting in front of. But look how adorably gracious he was about it. And, by the way, his apricot rugelach were buttery and superb. We took several samples back to our booth. The lovely Cat Cora was signing her newest book right across the isle from our booth so, of course, I went over to meet her and give her some cookies! I have been communicating with Mike Quinlan, of NordicWare for many years and finally we found ourselves in the same place at the same time. What a delightful guy. He was busy turning out meatballs by the dozen in their new meatball pan for the grill which produces perfectly round meatballs as opposed to the flattened on the bottom ones I always produce. A visit to the KitchenAid booth turned up many interesting surprises such as a cordless immersion blender. Beth Robinson gave us a great tour of their entire booth which is one of the largest of the show. And take a look at the new designer KitchenAId mixers! We had a great time visiting Greg Skipper of Fat Daddio's. He promised to send the protype of an exciting new product in time to add to the upcoming book. The funniest moment of the show was due to this photo that Woody took of the Nespresso cappuccino. Neither of us realized that photographing at the show required a special press badge so when the security guard informed us of this rule I thought he was kidding. The following day, as I was standing behind my booth, behind the display of The Cake BIble, a man came up to me extolling the virtues of the book and how before he was a policeman, he was a pastry chef and had learned everything from the book. He looked oddly familiar and I asked if by chance we had met him the day before, in fact, I queried whether he had been the one reproaching us for taking photographs. At first he denied the possibility clearly because he hated to think that he had done this to his mentor whom he claimed to idolize. Then, he actually got down on one knee to apologize. When Woody offered him a cookie, he explained how he is not allowed to accept even a glass of water. It didn't take long for his beautiful spirit to overcome his qualms about breaking the rules and said he was going to make the first exception of his life and ask Woody to take a photo of me and him. I was beyond delighted. After the photo, out of the corner of his responsible eye, he spied someone at a small distance away taking a photo. He excused himself before zooming over to read the person in question the party line. And then he came back to continue the conversation. Here he is, anonymity protected! Lesson learned once again: assume nothing--life is full of surprises. I cannot visit Chicago without having at least one dinner at Rick and Deanne Baylis's restaurant. This year it was Topolobampo. We all had the blood orange Margarita which was so utterly delicious we unwisely had seconds! Cheryl Robertson, who works with NewMetro Design, eagerly awaited her second serving. The best Margarita I've ever tasted deserved the best mole and this one was made with 28 ingredients including foie gras. It was velvety and incredibly complex and was served with aged ribeye and fried polenta. For dessert we all shared one frozen lime pie only because we were near incapable of having another mouthful of anything. We walked back to the hotel, hardly feeling the Chicago winter air.