On the Road with Heather Collins at Expo West
- By Heather Collins, Udi’s Gluten Free Foods
March 28, 2011
Who let the Dawgs Out?
It’s 6:30 a.m. and I am trying to be quiet, but for those who know me; my attempts at quietness only make me louder.
Clunk. Ow. Clink. Clunk. Clink. Ow.
That’s the sound of me lugging and loading cooking pans out of the car into our hotel guest suite kitchen to start the morning food prep for the Natural Products Expo West Show. At this event, Udi’s is working with nationally known gluten-free Chef Robert Landolphi. His gluten free cooking knowledge is immense and he creates incredible delicious recipes. Together, we are putting the finishing touches on pulled barbecue pork and all beef hot dogs, which will be served on our new Udi’s Gluten Free Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns throughout the Show. My taste buds are already working overtime this morning and just as the clock strikes 7:30, I finally admit that I am craving a hot dog.
We still have a lot of work to do to prepare the 1000+ samples we will be handing out in 4 hours, but I can’t concentrate. I don’t know if I am more excited about the launch of our new, tasty, soft and oh-so-demanded gluten-free buns or the fact that today I will finally sink my teeth into my first hot dog on an actual bun in years. We’re talking 22+ years here friends.
As I stir the thick, BBQ hickory sauce for the pulled pork, I fall victim to my own food. Food that smells this good, this early in the morning must be eaten. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the freshly baked hamburger buns, almost glistening through their new packaging. Ready to pounce on them, Chef Rob interrupts my day dream and reminds me that we only have a half hour to finish the food prep.
Not one to resist temptation, I bring Chef Rob a cup of piping hot coffee and use it as my bargaining tool for me to get my hands on one of some of this aromatic food. I mean, someone should really taste the hot dogs or pulled pork we are about to serve. Quality control people, someone has to do it! Finally Chef Rob gives in and steps away from the “Udi-Q” (that’s fun speak for BBQ, Udi’s Gluten Free style!)
I decide to toast up the new Udi’s Gluten Free Hot Dog Bun (no need to toast – I just like mine a bit warm and crunchy), throw in the dawg and load it up with ketchup and mustard. Words cannot express the glee, the pure, absolute moment of peace I had when I ate that hotdog. It was euphoric.
Get me to the booth on time!
Time to head to Anaheim and Expo West – the Mac Daddy of Food Shows in the Natural and Organic space; where you can find halls and halls of delicious food, supplements and raw ingredients to cosmetics and cleaning products – all natural and all organic under one roof. One large Anaheim Convention Center Roof.
But what really goes on at Expo West? Sure there are the pretty pictures and the delicious samples, but what really happens when you are feeding the masses?
For starters, lots and lots of planning, with a huge dose of patience and positive energy.
We arrive at our booth and see a skeleton of what is yet to be built. To the untrained eye, the arrival at Expo West pre-show looks like a war zone. Crates, boxes, forklifts zipping by ready to take you out at a moment’s notice. If you aren’t careful, you can trip over a box of chocolate, a box of nails or yourself.
Immediately, I switch hats from ‘Food Prep Heather’ to ‘Logistics Heather.’ My initial concern is the location of our baked goods as they have not yet been delivered to our booth. As my thoughts race, we try to beat the clock and assemble the booth. Counting in my head, I am thinking about the 42 cases of hot dog buns, 18 cases of bread, 8 cases of cookies and countless other marketing and communications materials I need to fit into our 10 foot x 20 foot booth.
After 2 dozen trips to the Marshall yard, I have located the products. All is right in the world. And finally by late afternoon, our booth is safely assembled. We are officially ready for Expo.
On the first day of Expo West, there’s a line of folks ready to try our new gluten- free hamburger and hot dog buns. At one point, I realized I hadn’t looked up, sat down or taken a break in 3 hours, but I was eager to dish up the same joy that I had experienced earlier that day to our new fans, friends, retailers, bloggers and members of the press. I recall someone saying, “I don’t care if it’s gluten-free, my wife eats Udi’s so I know it will be good.”
If you eat gluten-free or not, these buns rocked and everyone agreed.
With that said, I am excited for you to get your hands on our buns! Just in time for grilling season, you are going to have fun BBQ-ing it up with friends and family at your outdoor parties.
Be on the lookout for our new Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns late April, mid-May!
Until next time, Be Udiful!
P.S. Here’s Chef Rob’s website and be on the lookout for his second cookbook set to release in August. www.glutenfreechefrob.com