KaTom’s Weekly Foodservice News Roundup

Last week was like the hardest, iciest rebound ever as we ricocheted off Valentine’s Day weekend with a jaw-chattering sugar high only to slam into a wall. Between the national holiday—aka “The Day of the Dead Presidents”— waves of state-crippling blizzards, and strikes peaking in West Coast ports, we’re lucky there was a NAFEM 2015.

Signs of life flickering from Anaheim, Ca., nonetheless drew us closer. Here’s what caught our eye among the dispatches from the foodservice equipment industry’s big biennial show.

—The load-in (and you thought your catering gigs were stressful):

—The bar-gonomic rocketship that is Perlick’s Tobin Ellis Signature Station: A suite of high-volume bar equipment built around a “bartender cockpit.” It features sectioned ice bins and a speed rack and rail, designed with reach top of mind, that bring bartender and guests closer yet make room for all the nonstandard bottles, large and small, that make up today’s craft cocktails. Star-tender Ellis, the guy with barface doing a demo in the photo up top, would have been a shoe-in for best in show but for

—This guy.

(Hey, Perlick, send us some product photos, will ya?)

Zooming out a few thousand feet, attorneys general from food-distro hubs around the country could be seen piling onto the Federal Trade Commission’s suit, announced Thursday, February 19 (Chinese New Year!), to block Sysco Corp.’s acquisition of US Foods Inc.

The FTC threw the merger onto ice more than a year ago. If you’re just now catching up, here is how Nation’s Restaurant News frames the decision to be made in or out of court: “On one hand, the two companies are the only national distributors of a broad range of food products. On the other, there are numerous places where restaurants and others can buy food.” You can and should follow their coverage. The proceedings could have implications for all business. On Friday, The Wall Street Journal, for example, noted the aggressiveness of the FTC in its suit, and speculated on other industries that investors might want to watch for antitrust challenges.

It’s definitely a situation no one in foodservice in this country can afford to ignore—and that includes you, zillion-and-a-half-or-so 2015 James Beard Awards semifinalists. (Between that and the announcements of the several subsequent stages of these awards, I swear last night’s Oscars look like quick service.) Just kidding, of course; there are only about 70 semifinalists, and fine dining in February and March increasingly benefits from the James Beard Awards’ annual boost, also from the wave of “restaurant weeks,” happening in or coming soon to a town near you this end-of-winter.

Speaking of waves, the fish hit the fryers last Friday in parish halls throughout Catholic America, and will again for the next five weeks of Lent. As always, we’ve got your rigs right here at KaTom, folks!

Elaine Evans
Elaine Evans Elaine Evans is thrilled to blog for KaTom, where her work in restaurants, bars, catering, and artisanal food has caught up at last with her career in journalism and public relations writing.