Baconfest's Seth Zurer reports from the National Restaurant Association convention | Bleader

Baconfest's Seth Zurer reports from the National Restaurant Association convention


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Friend of the Food Chain Seth Zurer, one of the organizers of Baconfest Chicago, reports from the NRA convention:

As Baconfest's business interests intersect substantially with the restaurant industry, I was happy to have the chance to cover the National Restaurant Association's annual trade show and catch up with the latest developments in the science of hospitality.

Many of the exhibitors didn't hold a lot of interest for a man of my bacony inclinations. Baconfest is not in the market for a Wi-Fi-controlled granita machine, nor do we need a cutting-edge solid fat melter that solves the problem of hot-fat splashback.

We may someday want to make our ladies' restrooms into profit centers, and I do have a nontrivial nonprofessional interest in the latest trends in breastaurant uniform design. But that's neither here nor there.

There were a few items that captured my imagination . . .

Thanks to the promotional efforts of the Taiwanese External Trade Development Council, I witnessed the operation of a machine that flings rice cakes out of its aperture with the force of a trebuchet and a satisfying pop akin to the sound of a backfiring Harley. For your delectation, a video of this magnificent contraption in action:

Right next door, another device pooped cheese puffs. I'd show a video of that too, but its keeper, concerned that I was a corporate spy, prevented me from getting a clear shot of its innards, so I can't give you the pleasure I received watching it excrete.

On the theme of things from Taiwan that produce a satisfying pop, I was surprisingly into the latest development in the boba industry. These folks have perfected a formula for a tapioca-style milk-shake bead filled with flavor goo that pops in your mouth when you chew it. I found the mango-flavored variety delicious.


The Taiwanese don't have a monopoly on innovation, however. From Salt Lake City we have the Chork, an eating utensil consisting of a fork on one end and a pair of no-manual-dexterity-required chopsticks on the other. If you're an advanced user, the Chork can be broken in two to provide a more traditional chopstick experience.


The Wiz Kid is an antimicrobial mat designed to lay in front of a urinal and absorb whatever droplets may go astray en route from nozzle to drain. The head of the Wiz Kid organization is an affable part-time church pageant director, who considers the Wiz Kid his creative outlet. His sales pitch: "If men can't see any drops, then they'll stand closer!"

Finally, we have a great leap forward in carving-station technology. Are you tired of boring hams that approximate the shape of the muscle from which they were created? Do you yawn and start to snore at the thought of yet another ovoid turkey breast? The good people of Green Ridge Farms will take your favorite processed meat and with a patented injection molding process compress it into the shape of a piglet or a turkey. A weird eyeless, hairless piglet that stares back at you from eerily flat, sightless sockets, reproaching you for wanting to eat it.



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