Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Vendors' Place to Shine

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Vendors' Place to Shine

Article excerpt

Jodi Cohen was surrounded by kitchen appliances and holding large, red bags. With a smile on her face, she asked every passer- by, "Would you like one?"

Hundreds of attendees at the opening day of the second annual Tri- State Food Expo on Monday were taking Cohen's bags and filling them with pamphlets, samples and free Martha Stewart cookbooks.

But Cohen wasn't there just to give out bags. She was there to spread the word about her Fairview-based company, NJ Restaurant Equipment, which she and her husband relocated from New York four years ago.

"We were in business for 26 years in New York City, then we moved over to New Jersey," said Cohen. "The company's just grown leaps and bounds." Cohen, a Cliffside Park resident, said she moved the 15- person company because Manhattan was no longer profitable and Fairview was "closer to home."

A number of exhibitors said they like the two-day event at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus because it is closer to home. Expo director Bob Callahan noted most of the 165 exhibitors, which range from food vendors to manufacturers and security companies, are from New Jersey, fewer from New York and Connecticut.

"We are about 5 percent larger than last year. For a second-year event, we consider that a tremendous success," said Callahan. "The main difference from last year to this year is we really tried to upgrade the quality of our programs."

This year the expo hosted two New Jersey Restaurant Association annual meetings, which guaranteed attendance by NJRA members. Other changes included better chef demonstrations, a culinary competition between Tri-State chefs, and having Martha Stewart as the keynote guest.

NJRA president Dawn Sweeney led a discussion with Stewart, which drew most of the attendees to the event's main stage. The businesswoman and lifestyle trendsetter's main takeaway was her hope to see the food industry adapt simpler and healthier recipes and business models.

"I hope I see America being not isolationist but more self- sufficient. …

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