Fine Food Australia Expo, Melbourne 12 - 15 September 2016


If you work in the food service, retail & distribution and hospitality industry - whether as a cafe / restaurant owner, or a chef, or a grocery shop owner or working for a large national food distribution company, or a barista, or a caterer, or anything remotely food related - then you will NOT want to miss this show.

Unfortunately, the Fine Food Expo hosted by Fine Food Australia is only held once every two years as they alternate between Melbourne and Sydney each year.. but hey, I now have an excuse to plan a trip to Sydney next year for the next expo! Oh wait.. I am jumping ahead of myself here :)


The expo is STRICTLY TRADE ONLY and because I registered as a food blogger / writer I managed to somehow score a "Media Pass" to explore the event and be amongst people who work in an industry I am so passionate about. I felt completely spoilt that day... there was so much to see and so much to learn and so much food and drinks to taste! The expo was ultimately a Foodie Haven... hands down the best tradeshow I have ever attended and I gained so much from it. It definitely gave me a lot of insight as to what's involved in the supply chain management side of things when running a food establishment.. and the realization that the competition is tough! Food is literally being offered everywhere.. and you definitely need to stand out in terms of service and quality in order to score some potential clients.





As far as beverages were concerned, there were plenty of sample drinks as well as free coffees going around. It was an eye opening experience, as I realize that if I was a restaurant owner - I actually have so many suppliers of food and beverages to choose from with hundreds and thousands of options and then to somewhat be effective in comparing their prices, etc. This industry is absolutely booming and at the end of the day, I suppose networking is the only way to secure and retain long term customers. I had some great opportunities to chat to a few people during the expo and I have to say I am even furthermore intrigued by this industry and would LOVE to be more involved in the near future... *off dreaming about owning my own cafe or restaurant... excuse me while I daydream*








Back to the expo, other than the fact that EVERYONE at every stall were super friendly and approachable (there is this thing about people who love food are the most awesome people..) the expo had plenty to offer in terms of cooking demonstrations and entertainment as well. Everything on display here were food products, commercial food products available to purchase in bulk by people in the food business, from curry pastes to pastries to premade salads to sauces / dressings to gelato flavours... you name it, they got it! Not to mention kitchen equipment, cafe / restaurant furniture and packaging solutions! Everything you will ever need to establish a food business, you will find your connections all under one roof.

If you are into more international flavours, the expo also featured International Stalls with food products from all over the world. The variety was simply amazing! I only had one day here, but I would highly recommend that you take the opportunity to explore slowly at a good slow and steady pace spread across at least two days... because there is simply too much to see and too much to taste! If you are also seriously looking to network, you should allow a lot more time. The people here are ready to talk business, and there is a lot of information to process.

If you don't believe me when I say there is LOTS of food to taste... here is the proof:









This was truly a delicious event, but it was mostly a truly valuable business event and I would imagine having all major food suppliers under one roof just makes it all so much easier for people in the business to network and collect all the information required either to start a food business or to grow and evaluate options for their existing business.

See you guys in Sydney next year!



Salt and Pepper Crispy Chicken Spare Ribs Recipe


I must warn you, this post might end up being so badly written due to the fact that I just ate way too many crispy chicken ribs and now suffering from a bad case of food comma! If my kids were asleep, I would be asleep too right now. I am so full, and content, and sleepy. Writing this blog post almost immediately is necessary to try and stay awake. Writing keeps me away from the comforts of the couch and the danger of falling asleep while little children roam free around the house unsupervised. Better not let that happen, lol.

I LOVE CHICKEN RIBS. I can almost say that every time I go to Yum Cha or any Chinese restaurant, I would most likely end up ordering the Salt and Pepper Chicken Ribs. Why not? Deliciously juicy and crispy chicken that's tender and only one bone to deal with. Amazing flavours in the onion and chilli topping. Serve with the perfect dipping sauce - and I am in food heaven.

These are so easy to make at home though. They don't require a lot of ingredients and this version is pretty basic but hits the spot. I had to specially order in the chicken ribs from my butcher though, as they don't normally stock them (too expensive to keep on regular stock and unpredictable demand). This morning, I got a call from my butcher letting me know my chicken ribs have come in, so I gladly picked them up and cooked them for lunch! Now you can too... enjoy!


Ingredients:
500g chicken spare ribs
1 egg white, gently beaten to separate
Salt and Pepper
Kentucky Flour
1 stalk spring onion, sliced
Chilli flakes
Oil for deep frying

Method:
In a deep fryer, heat oil ready for deep frying. Season chicken ribs really well with salt and pepper. Be generous with the pepper for extra spicy kick. Coat chicken in egg white and then coat with Kentucky flour. Deep fry for about 6-10 minutes or until the chicken is crispy and brown. Serve onto a plate and then top with sliced spring onion and chilli flakes. Serve with your favorite soy / chilli dipping sauce.

Stirfried Okra with Garlic, Mushrooms & Anchovies


Growing up, my parents have always cooked okra (aka ladies finger) so I have grown very familiar with this vegetable and various ways of cooking it. However, I do realise that a lot of people have never ever cooked with okra nor have they tasted them. If you have never cooked with okra before, perhaps this simple dish will encourage you to try something new. Okra is really not that scary... it is very commonly used in Asian dishes and has a very unique texture.

It is a little... slimy.

Please do not let that put you off!!

Okra when sliced is generally slimy on the inside which is why once you have sliced them, you are not supposed to let it get in contact with any water or else it will just melt away and turn into a slimy vegetable with no real texture to it.

However, if you keep it dry after it is sliced and cook it without any water, the outer later of the okra which is firmer and pleasantly textured really compliments the little gooeyness. This dish makes it even more enjoyable as it also combines the salty crunch of the fried anchovies and the soft textures of mushroom. I love this dish and can easily eat a big plate of this for dinner with nothing else.. but it serves well with rice. It also takes 10 minutes to prepare this dish from start to finish... I simply cannot complain!

Before I start with the recipe, here are a few helpful notes:

  • You can buy okra from most fruit and vegetable shops in Australia, or Asian grocers.
  • You can find dried anchovies (the little ones) in packets from Asian grocers or the Asian section in Coles supermarkets.
Ingredients
200g okra, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tbsp dried anchovies, softened in water for approx. 5 mins, then drain water.
1 medium cup mushroom, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:
Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add garlic, sliced mushrooms, and soaked anchovies. Fry in oil for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, until the garlic is browning and fragrant, and anchovies starting to crisp. Add sliced okra and season with salt and pepper. Stirfry for another 3-4 minutes or until the okra starts to soften. Serve while it is still hot.


Steamed Silken Tofu with Minced Pork & Mushrooms


When it comes to feeding the family, it is hard to strike a balance between something healthy and wholesome that is also a huge hit with the kids. To top it all off, I constantly need to find recipes that are dairy free, egg free and nut free! My kids, like most children, can be quite fussy when it comes to food. At the end of the day, they eat what we eat... but it does make meal times a lot easier when they happily eat what they are given without us having to convince them it's worth at least trying.

This particular dish is such a crowd pleaser. My kids absolutely love this! Just yesterday at a playdate, my kids chose to eat tofu even when toasted marshmallows were on offer! Needless to say, my friends were amazed that the kids just sat there and ate their dinner without any hassles. You wouldn't expect it to be such a crowd pleaser, after all it is tofu. A lot of people's first impression when it comes to tofu can often be... non-enthusiastic in general. Well, we love our tofu and we love them even more when it is silken tofu! This dish can be prepared and cooked within 25-30 minutes, and serves really well with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
150g minced pork
3 large shitake mushrooms, softened and sliced
1 tbsp oyster sauce
300g silken tofu
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Coriander leaves 

Method:
Heat vegetable oil in a fry pan, fry garlic, minced pork, mushrooms for a few minutes until the meat starts to brown. Add oyster sauce and stir thoroughly. Set aside.

Place tofu in a steaming plate. Top the tofu with stirfried pork and mushroom mix. Drizzle with light soy sauce. Steam everything for approximately 15-20 minutes. To serve, garnish with fresh coriander leaves. 

Homemade Vietnamese Roast Pork Roll (Banh Mi) Recipe


Warning: This is seriously easy and seriously addictive... lol.

This is my cheat version of a Banh Mi, with readily available products that you can get from any supermarket. I substituted a Vietnamese baguette with a Turkish roll because.. well, Turkish rolls are deliciously fluffy on the inside and crusty on the outside which makes this roll the best thing in the world! Ok, maybe I am overreacting but my mouth is watering even as I type this.. so that's a good thing right?!

Whether you're craving a nice big delicious lunch that will surely make you feel sleepy after lunch and unable to continue being productive, or you just felt like banh mi for dinner but all the Vietnamese shops are closed... this is for you! Kimba's cheat but yummy banh mi replacement recipe hehe.

Ingredients:
300g pork belly or pork spare ribs (the sliced ones as shown in this pic below)
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup of fresh coriander
Turkish bread rolls
Mayonnaise
Sweet Chilli Sauce
Salt and Pepper

Method:
Slice the pork into little strips, season well with salt and pepper and roast it in the oven for approximately 30 minutes until it is brown and crispy.

To assemble the roll, slice the bread roll to form a pocket without slicing all the way through. Spread mayonnaise on one side of the roll. Stuff in carrots, coriander and pork according to your preference. Drizzle some sweet chilli sauce and take a huge first bite in contentment! Then keep eating and hope you don't crave for more than you should eat.. because I know I tend to have that problem! Haha :)