A Trip to the Food Show

Ever wondered where restaurants get their ingredients and supplies? They don't send someone out to the grocery store, they use a food service distributor. Distributors offer a huge variety of products and have incredible bulk prices.

Plus, they deliver.

Right now, I'm handling all of my own procurement, which is just a fancy way of saying I do my own shopping and schlepping. But as my volume grows, I'll soon be in the market for a food distributor.

Shopping for my own supplies isn't glamorous. I wake up at the crack of dawn Monday mornings, throw on my favorite baseball cap, grab my ginormous tote bag, and hit the grocery and local Sam's Club for my weekly supplies.

I couldn't love this bag more.

It's best to go early -- really early -- the stores are clean, the aisles empty and the checkout lines nonexistent.

Doing my own shopping is manageable now, since my volume is relatively small. But as word about Cream City Casseroles continues to spread and orders increase, using a distributor will save me a lot of time, energy and expense.

So, I'm in the market for a food distributor. Lucky for me, there are several great companies that serve Milwaukee, which gives me quite a few choices. Last week, one distributor invited me to their big trade show so I could meet a representative and sample the products they offer.

Behold ... the Food Show.  Hundreds of food and beverage companies, offering samples and answering questions about their products.

Dierks Waukesha's food show
It was incredible. There were vendors of all sorts. From fresh fruits and vegetables to steak and ice cream.

Luckily, I came prepared. I wore comfy shoes and an elastic waistband. I also brought my dad as my wing man. Together we walked from table to table, mouths agape at the sights, sounds and smells.

Squeezable sauerkraut. Genius. Avocado oil. Who knew? Every kind of pasta known to man. The choices were endless!

And one of my favorite booths of the day:

The mother of all Bloody Mary bars!
Then there was the equipment! Giant espresso machines, unique warming and cooling equipment ... and this:

Margarita City, baby!

It was entertaining ...

Um, wow.
And a little overwhelming.

Filled the Expo Center!

I lugged home my big bag of brochures and samples and let the kids reach inside for a souvenir. The youngest drew first -- a teriyaki beef stick! The oldest got a cup of pineapple. Next came a breakfast bar, then the gluten-free cookie. The kids quickly began trading, shrewdly angling and negotiating to get what each wanted. Oddly, everyone wanted the beef stick.

At the end of the day, my belly was full, my feet hurt, and my head was spinning. So much to see. So many options.

I love this job.