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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Delight your Taste Buds at the Fresno Food Expo

Jun 21, 2017 11:00AM ● By Jordan Venema

Sourcing Local

July 2017
Story by Jordan Venema
Photo courtesy of Fresno Food Expo

If you’re a fan of food, then there is really only one date to mark on your calendar this summer. On July 27, about 150 local food producers will come together under one roof to exhibit, sell and sample their products. Call it a tradeshow of sorts, or a foodie’s paradise, or call it what it is: the seventh annual Fresno Food Expo.

Amy Fuentes, manager of the Fresno Food Expo, describes the event as “a regional food trade show that brings together our region’s food growers and manufacturers to exhibit their products at a one-day show.”

Since its inception, the Fresno Food Expo has been facilitating the handshake between growers and buyers, makers and retailers, and helping to put this region’s products on the map – and shelves. 

Since the Central Valley is an agricultural powerhouse, it’s only natural that many of its denizens use its native resources to create quality products – from sauces to seasonings, and oils to condiments. Vegetables and produce and nuts will make up a little less than 50 percent of the exhibitors at the Fresno Food Expo, but there will be plenty of mom-and-pop businesses there as well, exhibiting meats and cheeses, wines and beers.

So whether its exhibitors are brewing small-batch beer or tilling 1,000-acre farms, these producers equally will be introduced to buyers from retailers like Save Mart, Trader Joes, Vallarta, Costco, Whole Foods and more.  

The Expo actually kicks off the evening of July 26 with a speech by keynote speaker Phil Lempert, though it is closed to the public. From 9am to 3pm the next day, retailers and producers come together for the Expo’s business-to-business event. 

“We invite retailers to come and look at all the local products,” explains Fuentes. “The overarching goal is to help our local food manufacturers make new connections, and get their goods onto shelves. I’ve seen companies just launch and within a year I’ve seen their products in Costco or Save Mart.”

The Fresno Food Expo will also offer Expolicious, which will be available to the public for $50 tickets. Doors will be open from 5 to 8pm and exhibitors will sample and sell their goods, while local chefs pair and prepare dishes using exhibitors’ products. 

“Pretty much come in and taste samples and learn about all the different food and beverage companies in our own backyard,” says Fuentes.

“We also invite local chefs and restaurateurs, about 10 to 15 local restaurants from up and down the valley, to do a fun contest. They come in and make small appetizers made up of products found on the show floor,” she continues. “So you can have a pistachio-crusted ice cream made with Rosa Brothers Milk and local pistachios. Ultimately, the goal is that these restaurants will turn around and carry these items on their menu and use these local products.”

For foodies, then, Expolicious is a must see – or must eat – event. It will be an opportunity to taste some of the newest products coming out of the valley, and sample dishes by chefs that potentially will end up on local menus. 

Some restaurants that are participating in this year’s Expolicious are Ampersand Ice Cream, Quesadilla Gorilla, School House Restaurant and Tavern, and Tazzaria. 

While the Fresno Food Expo is a business opportunity for retailers and exhibitors, at the end of the day it’s also meant to be a party.

“Really, it’s a celebration of our region’s thriving food industry and what we do here,” says Fuentes. And what better way to celebrate than by eating and drinking all the food and beverages, including local wines and craft beers?  So whether you’re in retail or agriculture, a chef or a foodie, or maybe all of the above, the Fresno Food Expo has a little bit of something to satisfy everybody’s tastes. And whatever your tastes, no one is going to tell you not to have your fill.  

“Oh yeah,” says Fuentes, laughing. “You will literally roll out of there.”

Fresno Food Expo • July 26-27 • 

Fresno Convention Center, 848 M St., Fresno 

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