City to host 'huge business party'
The three-day Restaurant & Bar Expo, starting tomorrow at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is due to draw a host of restaurateurs and bar owners, along with their staff and representatives from related industries around the world.
'It's not so much a trade show as a huge party where everybody is talking business,' says Stuart Bailey, general manager of Diversified Events Hong Kong, the overall organiser of the expo that was first held in 2002.
'While it is easy nowadays to connect with Skype or e-mail, nothing beats being able to taste food and drink at first hand.'
Last year's expo attracted more than 11,000 delegates, mainly from Hong Kong, but with a strong showing from the mainland and Macau. Pre-registration for this year's show was already up by about 35 per cent last month, and the organisers are expecting a good turnout.
Relaxed trade restrictions and improved infrastructure are making it easier to ship food and drink into the mainland, generating increased interest there. Bailey says the restaurant and bar industry in Hong Kong is in good health. 'In other parts of the world, eating out is seen as a luxury, but in Hong Kong it's something people do every day, not just on special occasions.'
Rather than simply being a traditional-style trade show, the expo hosts numerous competitions and demonstrations, making it a highly interactive event. Top of the bill are the master classes run by Michelin-starred chefs. Culinary superstars, such as Chan Yung of Sun Tung Lok Chinese Cuisine, Yeung Kin-chung of Tim's Kitchen and Cheng Kam-fu from Celebrity Cuisine, will be making their signature dishes and talking about the history behind them at demonstrations that would probably sell out in a flash - if they weren't free of charge.
'As much as anything else, the Restaurant & Bar Expo is about inspiring and educating,' Bailey says. 'The restaurant and bar business is continually evolving, and owners and managers need inspiration, whether it's for something big such as overhauling the menu or smaller aspects such as table settings.'
Another crowd-puller is likely to be the Norwegian Seafood Young Chefs Challenge. Participants will be encouraged to create memorable dishes using Norwegian salmon as their main ingredient. The grand prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to Norway.
Meanwhile, coffee lovers will have the chance to enjoy a cuppa obtained from the latest Nespresso machine, Aguila, designed to combine the best of traditional coffee-making methods with the latest advances of Nespresso. With one touch, the machine serves bespoke coffee, hot or cold, that caters to the taste of the individual.
As in previous years, the expo's Show Bar is likely to be well patronised, as much for the chance to network as for the complementary drinks.
A new section of the expo is Hospitality Design, featuring innovative design products from companies such as Life's a Breeze, Marc James Design and Resource Asia. These cater to an audience of restaurant and bar designers looking to strike a balance between quality and a stunning theme.
'The various shows taking place during the expo are all fascinating and simply add something extra to our superb line-up of exhibitors,' Bailey says.
'For example, one of the exhibitors is Delux Enterprise, a food distributor which specialises in truffles, whether fresh, frozen or used with a certain type of product. Norwegian seafood is making a very strong presentation, focusing on the natural health benefits of salmon and halibut. While we have plenty of seafood in Asia, Norway's products are quite unique.'
Other exhibitors include San Miguel Brewery, XTC on Ice Gelato, Canada Beef Inc and Groupon Hong Kong.