Great Big Food Show

My bride and I went to the Food Network’s Great Big Food Show this afternoon. In all, I think it was a very good show, and it has a lot of potential.

It has its shortcomings, as well.

First, I think they need to “think bigger.” By this, I mean that they held the show in the IX Center, an enormous facility located at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. This facility used to house the old Chrysler tank plant, and it’s absolutely huge inside, some 800,000 square feet of one-level floor space, and they used what felt like about 8,000 square feet of that area.

I felt like people were constantly falling and tripping over me, as if I had a sign on my back that said, “Please walk on me.” Last I checked, I was not wearing such a sign. They need to utilize the space, not necessarily use the space more efficiently; the area inside that building is the rough equivalent to 8 football fields, so they shouldn’t worry about crowding at all.

They need to make the display units larger, the aisles wider and the distance between stands longer; people munching on food or sipping wine tend to stop, stand and start walking again in an erratic, haphazard manner, and it’s almost impossible to design pedestrian traffic flow efficiently in such a tight space.

Further, several of the event’s larger attractions were almost totally hidden from view by walls in which small stands operated on both sides. I could see that they did this to efficiently use the space, but in doing so, they blocked access to a lot of the wine stands and at least one theater.

Cleveland is home to several microbreweries, a couple of them major brewers, and none were present. The same could be said for several of the area’s finer independent restaurants, whose only representation was that of a local restaurant consortium, and, of course, Michael Symon’s Lola Bistro. Michael gave a nice demonstration with venison meatloaf.

I was disappointed that there weren’t more kitchen appliance displays, as there is for the Home & Garden Show; the H&GS usually has displays from every major appliance manufacturer. The only major manufacturers at the GBFS were Kitchen Aid and Dacor; Viking Culinary Arts had another, with no ranges or grills on display.

Major omission here: No grills! This *is* Cleveland, after all!

My bride and I attended Alton Brown’s stage show, which was funny, entertaining and educational. The guy is a real cut-up, a class act, and he knows his stuff. I even caught a T-shirt. Oh, and I might also be on TV, as FoodTV was taping our session; maybe I’ll see it in a couple of years. My only wish was that his show could have lasted longer; 35 minutes of AB just isn’t enough.

The rest was an impressive start to a show that has the potential to outdo all of the great shows throughout the year at the IX, including the Home and Garden Show, the Sport Show and the Auto Show.

I will definitely go back, especially since they promise that next year’s show will be much bigger and much better. We’ll see.

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