NOVA culinary students and Chef Mike Herbert visited the Mid-Atlantic Food and Lodging Expo in Baltimore, MD. The expo was held at the Martin’s West Catering Hall and featured a variety of vendors and purveyors from the hospitality industry.
The students sampled various food offerings, including a variety of meats, cheeses, snacks, produce, beverages, appetizers, baked goods and desserts. They also had the opportunity to learn from non-food vendors like those in point of sale systems, waste disposal, merchandising and promotions, insurance, display ware and tableware, cookware, kitchen equipment, accounting, sanitation, and environmental and sustainability solutions.
Point of sale systems include the hardware and software to enter a customer’s order, tell the kitchen staff when the order needs to be ready, and when the customer has paid and left so the staff can turn the table quicker. It helps with communication and management of the room to enhance the customer experience. The merchandising and promotions vendors showed the students how they can customize promotions to certain demographics, and the kitchen equipment representative demonstrated how the new equipment is programmable and can be customized for a specific menu. From a sustainability perspective, there are biodegradable packaging options that reduce waste and decrease the impact on the environment.
Some of the students expressed that they would like to open their own restaurant one day. They learned aspects of the hospitality business that would not have been possible in a classroom setting.