“Hmmm. Why?” was my cautious riposte.”
“We want to look at packaging for BakedInBangkok.”
Er. Do I really want to go? They might have bubble wrap…“I see. Can I get back to you?”
The very next morning I vaulted out of bed and thought why the heck not? So a quick message had the pair of us chuntering down Express Way 1 to Bang Na where the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) awaited us. We parked up underground and then waltzed into the place not realizing that there were two exhibitions. In the event, we missed entirely the Logistics Fair and found ourselves signing up for the Thailand Food Exhibition. Made sense at the time and was a far better choice than looking at shipping and warehousing technologies. With our BakedInBangkok badge pinned firmly to our chests and noting the “No Guns” signage we plunged into the vast hall.
On the way in I pointed out that we’d have to clench sphincters because getting to the toilet would likely be an assault course affair. I defy anyone to figure out how to get to these toilets half way up a wall.
What you might have noticed in the lower half of the picture is signage for the Asean Barista Competition 2013. Oh yes, a seven-judge affair for Thailand’s top baristas and not a Starbucks sign in sight. Technique, presentation, coffee product and flair were all being scrutinized under the watchful eyes of experts and TV Cameras. The female hostess was gabbling away at high speed, extolling the virtues of baristry in a manner that would have enthused a tea lover.
We wandered up and down the rows, happily munching and imbibing free samples, chatting away to genuinely chilled and friendly people. Everything to do with the Food, Hotel and Hospitality industry was there. From A to Z, we saw a glut of cooking accoutrements, industrial towel wrapping machines, hotel windows, security systems, TVs, cleaners, coffee makers, fresh breads and cheeses, organic produce, wines, beer, labels, dough makers, ovens…and much much more. Here’s a photographic sample:
The best was to come as we sauntered down a single level to where real artists were in hot and cold competition with each other. There was Freestyle Ice Carving: Individual, Fruit and Vegetable Carving Live: Team of 3, Modern Thai Cuisine: Team of 3, and lastly Meat Free Style: Individual. All them seeking coveted trophies and medals. It was awesome. Like walking into a Masterchef show coupled with top quality food artistry. For example, look at the exquisite artistry by this chef on this cantaloupe. I just had to stand and watch for a long time. Eventually, Canada’s Finest Jazz Vocalist dragged me away with the urging:
“Look at the ice carving!”
Ice Carving?! Yes indeed. Check this out….
Afterwards it was onto the food. I found myself watching them plating up and then dishes going to judges. Only this time I wasn’t forced to enduring the “pig-in-a-trough” eating style of George Calombaris. The man might be a fine chef and Masterchef: Australia judge, but he’s no idea how to eat with any decorum. You see, the Diplomat and I watch a lot of Masterchef in Bangkok and we have to mute the slurping sounds when he’s on <shudder>. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked; Canada’s Finest Jazz Vocalist and travelswithadiplomat hovered in the background as various quality chefs and restauranteurs critiqued the dishes in a helpful way with the anxious competitors nodding along. We even got to try some Beijing Beer! Canada’s Finest Jazz Vocalist particularly liked the sampling of Thai Sabai with its Mekong Whiskey. Whilst he slugged back a gallon of the stuff, I took some photos of the area…
So, we didn’t get to find any packaging for BakedInBangkok, we didn’t even go to the right exhibition (though we realised it as we left and very quickly poked our heads in before deciding that curly fries and a root beer from an A&W concession stand was a better-spent five minutes), but we had an unexpectedly great time and saw some pretty cool stuff going on. The only pity was that I had quite looked forward to finding some industrial strength bubble wrap and happily popping it for a few childish minutes. Some other time, eh?
So, Food & Hotel Thailand…worth a visit this one and it’s on every year. Here’s a link to the website – http://www.foodhotelthailand.com/food/2013/en/index.asp
Is this what diplomacy is all about?