Well, it’s Monday and my feet, legs, shoulders, back (ok, basically all of me) is sore, my Fitbit tracked over 24,000 steps, almost 10 miles and on my feet for 9+ hours all yesterday. That must mean one thing – the International Home and Housewares show was yesterday! And no, I did not exaggerate those numbers. As their website claims: “Where art intersects with engineering. Where technology informs style. Where exhibitors display innovation, buyers discover trends & the industry connects to do business. It’s just plain smart. In addition to more than 2,100 exhibitors showcasing thousands of new products, the International Home + Housewares Show offers visitors education and insight into business practices and trends that are shaping the industry. Experience the Show’s strong educational sessions and special displays to help grow your business!”
Smart, yes. Exhausting, absolutely.
Here’s the scoop. Daniel and I registered a few months ago (well, I also registered under my other blog Risky Veggie). The 3 of us (my husband included), left at 8 a.m. on Sunday, arrived just before 9, after winding our way through some random outdoor parking lot that seemed miles away from McCormick place. We started on one side, walking up and down each aisle, checking out products and booths – everything from Black + Decker to SodaStream, Vitamix, Nest, Cuisinart, and Keurig and checking out every type of pressure cooker from every company you can think of. 🙂 Luckily there were many raffles to win a pressure cooker, so of course I entered every single one (this is next on my list of kitchen appliances).
First on this side of the exhibit, was walking over to the cooking demo featuring Food Network chef Jeff Mauro (a.k.a. “The Sandwich King) – a local Chicago boy, he won “Food Network Star” a few seasons back. He was demoing Chicago-style Philly cheesesteak and sweet potato hash, using the new George Foreman grill, with removable plates for waffle-making, braising, broiling, searing and of course grilling. So, naturally, he heckled Daniel and me in the front row, while we took action shots and heckled him back. He was super friendly and so silly (case in point, my “silly pictures” I took with him). I gave him both of my business cards and off we went. Meanwhile, my husband Elliott was off at the Wahl exhibit getting a free haircut and beard trim (this barber, Ben is THE BEST. If only he had a barber shop near us). Yay for free haircuts!
Continuing on, chatting with some vendors, ooing and ahing over the fancy displays, getting free bottles of personalized SodaStream drinks (and may I say, their new all-natural and totally sugar-free flavors are pretty good) and… how could I forget? Daniel and I purchased our own portable commercial induction cook top with temperature control, at a CRAZY low price (um, think under $150). Yup, exactly.
Next, I stumbled upon the Aroma booth and low and behold, Chef Ming Tsai was there doing a cooking demo with their new fancy schmancy pressure cookers (see, I told you). He made 3 dishes – seared beef with rice and watercress, Chinese duck (I left during this demo and came back) and…Dunkin Hines cake. Yes, it’s true. He was demonstrating how easy it is too make cake in this pressure cooker. Since I was standing in the front row (why was everyone shying away in the back?), he asked me to be his volunteer, to show everyone how easy it is to use. The only hiccup was that he forgot to plug it in (cue my deer in headlights face). Okay, all is good. Photo taken with him, and mentioned that I met him at a book signing years ago downtown, gave him my cards (of course) and again, away we went.
More walking. Feet getting a little tired by now. Lunch (I brought my own Rachel-friendly food).
Time for the South side hall. I saw that Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian was going to be there doing a demo, but I waited around and didn’t see him around, so instead, we all head to the Cooking Theater to see the one and only Fabio Viviani for his cooking demos (you may remember him from Top Chef, where he made “It’s Top Chef, not Top Scallops” a famous line and me, being the weirdo I am, quoted it to him last year. He laughed). He got a volunteer from the crowd to help him make fresh pasta – orecchiette, to be exact, and Chicken and Cauliflower steak puttanesca, all while chucking balls of pasta dough into the crowd, because, he’s Fabio. 🙂
Wasting no time, I rushed up to the front, asked for a quick photo and (since I came prepared and printed out the photos of the celeb chefs and me from last year), I had him sign my photo of us. Yea, I’m weird like that (but in my defense, Daniel did that too and gave me the idea of printing out those photos).
More walking, more free swag, more business cards exchanged, more contacts being made. “I’d love to write a review on my blog about your product”, and “where do you sell these in retail” where the common lines that I felt myself repeating all day.
Caught a quick glimpse of Chef Emeril Lagasse at his booth but he was talking with his PR people and heading back to the other wing for an autograph signing.
North side was next. This is the cleaning, organizing, start-up companies, or some you’ve seen on Shark Tank stuff (i.e. Squatty Potty, Scrub Daddy, DBest), among other big companies like Ziploc, Kate Spade, Clorox and Igloo. I chatted with a few companies who were so excited to give me extra products to try out and review (hair clips, mason jar lids, cookie cutters, and cleaning cloths, just to name a few). A few more cards given out and carrying 3 heavy bags of stuff, it was 5:15 and time to head out.
All in all, a great show. Last year when I went for the first time, I was just getting up and running as a blogger, and now I have not one, but TWO blogs!
I’m always on the lookout for interesting designs, new products – everything from kitchen appliances, home decor, storage, food prep, cleaning products and everything in between. I feel much more prepared now for these types of shows, more business cards to hand out and the best questions to ask “show me about your product” and “what new products are you showcasing?”
The trade show is well organized and some company booths are displayed so impressively, so chic, I wish my living room could look that put together (ok maybe it is), but mostly, I coveted those fancy tablescapes. 🙂 And maybe the baby blue vintage-style toasters. Or the giant copper pots.
Time to register for 2018!
Don’t forget to check out Daniel’s review of the show here: 2017 International Home + Housewares Show Review