Restaurant trade show serves business optimism
Cautious optimism was the sentiment of the day at Island Food Products' 21st annual spring food show, held last Wednesday at Mediterranean Restaurant's new location on Beach Road in Oak Bluffs. Chefs, owners, and managers from 125 Island food service businesses viewed, compared, and sampled food and other products from 37 wholesale vendors who traveled to the Vineyard from around New England.
"We're the only local food service distributor based on Martha's Vineyard," said Ross Schold, Island Food Product (IFP) vice president. "We're feeling really strong about the heart of the upcoming season. It's the shoulder seasons that we need to keep busy and profitable."
IFP's food show allows anyone in the food service industry on Martha's Vineyard to see firsthand, and in many cases taste, the variety of products that IFP distributes.
A selection of fresh seafood filled one table covered with ice.
"We buy fish from docks all over the world," said David Coombs, executive vice president of Steve Connolly Seafood in Boston. "These days, fresh seafood is just a short plane ride away from anywhere." He illustrated the point with three types of cultivated mussels, two from the coast of Maine and one from Prince Edward Island in Canada.
"This swordfish was caught off of South Africa two days ago. On any given day, we carry 60 to 70 types of fish and 20-30 varieties of oysters," Mr. Coombs said.
At other tables vendors offered tastes of handcrafted Vermont goat cheeses, bottles of fresh-squeezed Florida fruit juices, sliced samples of ribs, roasts, and fried chicken, deli sandwiches, salads, soups, chowders, bisques, stuffed raviolis, and baked goods from cakes to cookies and pies - all of which may have contributed to the Martha's Vineyard foodservice community's upbeat mood.