I was recently invited to a new food expo happening up in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago. It was a brand new expo called the Crave Expo helping to promote caterers in the Los Angeles area and it was a free event for media. I decided to bring Jake along and take a half day at work to trek it up to LA and check it out. Heather, who recently moved to LA, joined us for a fun afternoon of food and drinks at Crave Expo! Warning: this is a really long post!
The drive up to Los Angeles wasn’t too awful… until we got to the 10. And when we got off the 10 freeway. Damn you, LA.
The even took place at the Mark which was a pretty good sized space. There were about 18 various caterers there showing off their food skillz. Jake and I were hungry and got a few bites to eat before Heather (who got stuck in traffic, surprise surprise) joined us.
Emporium Thai Cuisine was the first place we checked out. They had three samples of their food in the cutest little see-through containers.
The Mango Salad has strips of mango in it that almost made it look like noodles. It was refreshing but with a little kick of flavor.
The Southern Curry Chicken had white breast meat in a spicy curry sauce over white rice. This one sure did have a spicy kick to it.
The Crying Tiger rounded out the trio of samples from Emporium Thai Cuisine. It was strips of beef in a well seasoned marinade (the most we could gather was that the marinade had a “lot” of ingredients in it, haha). With a name like Crying Tiger I expected it to be spicy but it was actually rather on the sweet side. The beef was my favorite of the three.
Maggiano’s Little Italy were serving these giantator tortellacci which are just like really, really big tortellini’s. They were stuffed with spinach and ricotta and served with a cream based sauce. They were tender and had a yummy filling. Jake really liked these, I think he had like three or four!
Palos Verdes Catering had a lovely bunch of desserts, including little fruit tarts, banana cream pie and Chanel sugar cookies. The cookies were simply but really tasty (I grabbed a few to bring as a treat to a few of my co-workers).
They also had this skewers of meatballs and pineapple which Jake and I adored. The meatballs had a ton of delicious flavor with a touch of sweetness. These ran out very quickly!
The last item Palos Verdes Catering had were these cute little cups of tropical shrimp ceviche. There were little bits of mango in with the other delicious flavors and it was a tasty little bite (plus I loved the mini martini glasses).
Mr. Bartender was present for some mixed alcoholic beverages.
Here was their menu for the evening!
This is the “Faux Paws” which had bourbon, pinot noir, rosemary syrup, hazelnut liqueur and lemon juice with a sprig of rosemary. I remember not really caring for the flavor of this one. I don’t think bourbon and pinot noir really go together…
On the left is “From Russia with Love” which has vodka, apple liqueur, orgeat syrup and lemon juice. I liked that one! And on the right is the “Bungle Bungle Cocktail” with vodka, cherries, orange juice, thyme syrup and ginger beer. It was alright. The flavors and various mixes were quite fun to order and watch them make and were different from other mixed drinks we’ve seen.
Ban Chan a la Carte had a beautiful setup with their large floral centerpieces. They had a few of their iced teas available to try plus trays of very pretty food:
Like these fresh vegetable spring rolls…
and little cups filled with mashed potatoes and short ribs.
And they had kimchee pancakes and … I forgot what the item on the bottom right is… sorry! My favorite was the short ribs which were super tender and yummy. I didn’t care too much for the other items.
Polka Polish Restaurant had two samples of their handmade pierogi’s available. You could get potato and or potato and bacon. I got the bacon one. These were freakin’ delicious! They were actually on the cold side so Jake wasn’t as impressed but I loved the tender skin on the outside of the pierogi and the filling was quite flavorful and delicious. One of my favorite items at Crave Expo!
One of the exhibitors had their handmade Skull Decanters from the Dead Lee Collection on display.
Heather and I both immediately thought of Stacey when we saw these! Very cool and so much detail.
My World on a Plate had a bunch of interesting food laid out with no signs as to what it was. You just had to trust and eat it. This one turned out to have a soft, delicious cheese on top. The bottom holder (I have no idea what it is) was light and crunchy.
This looked a little like tuna to me so while I photographed it, I didn’t try it. I should have tried it anyway but I was feeling wussy.
Chef Keven Lee, owner of My World on a Plate, was present and making these little desserts on this frozen panel. He’d basically just tell you to open your mouth and he’s place one of the sticks into your mouth and then twist the stick to release the treat.
It was a creamy whipped cream concoction that was bright, sweet, and delicious. The little beads burst in your mouth and you got a little crunch from the nut that was placed in it. A really fun and totally different treat! The three of us loved it.
Corazon’s Custom Catering offered two items: these puff pastry adobo puffs (I forgot the real name, oops).
As well as these really pretty zucchini cups with roasted veggies.
Lawry’s Catering had dessert and savory items. Coconut Banana Cream Pie Verrine was their sweet offering. It was kind of like a deconstructed pie with ground up crunchy bits at the bottom and creamy filling in the middle. I liked the toasted coconut on top.
Cucumber Canapes with Salmon and Dill – I spotted capers and there was salmon so I passed on this one.
Thai Watermelon and Crab Shooters were something I did partake it – you can’t see it but there’s a generous amount of crab hiding just under the surface. This was incredibly refreshing, it tasted a bit like there was mint/cilantro in the flavor profile but it was unwieldy to get to the crab, which stuck to the bottom.
The venue for the Crave Expo was The Mark for Events which also had their own catering options, including this super delicious Kale Salad with pine nuts, farro, Parmesan shavings, currants and a sherry vinaigrette. They were presented in this fun little grass box in paper cones. The combination of flavors was really good with a bit of sweetness from the currants. The buttery pine nuts gave it crunch and the Parmesan added some saltiness. Mmm!
On the left is a little watermelon and mint gazpacho (aka cold soup!). The gazpacho was nice and bright with the mint thrown in. The shrimp cocktail was SUPER YUM since they used a really nice, large, plump shrimp.
In the back of the hall a live band was playing and it had more “moodier” lighting. Flipbooth was present to show off a different way to do a photobooth. You stand in front and you move around and gesture for about a minute or so and a camera records all of your moves to make a little photo flip book! I adored the idea of this one since you get a different kind of keepsake.
Bling It On Candy set up this beautiful candy bar with all kinds of glittery props in blue and white. It was a stunning display with multiple levels and multiple kinds of blue and white candy.
Ice Cream Lab was putting on a bit of a show with their nitrogen made ice cream. It looked super dramatic with the fun lightning.
The gave out samples of their salted caramel pretzel ice cream. Creamy and smooth!
This one also made me think of Stacey… it was Sugar and Spyked where all of the desserts are infused with alcohol!
I tried a little container of cheesecake where you had your choice of alcohol infused topping (it was strawberry and something else, maybe peach or cherry??). I tried the strawberry and HOLY COW was there a lot of alcohol infused into that topping! It was very strong I swear I got a little drunk off of my cheesecake (what).
Lovesome was the last booth we visited, though I didn’t try as much as I would have liked to because I was full at this point.
Such pretty little cupcakes!
I did try a tiny piece of this chocolate bark which was really yummy. I didn’t try any cupcakes though. No more belly room. 🙁 We didn’t even THINK to bring containers to this event, what a shame!
All in all it was a super fun event with lots of samples from various caterers – lots of great ideas for future events and parties! I want to know where they get all of these cute little containers, too. Thanks, Crave Expo, for putting on such a stellar event!
Disclaimer: I was invited to the Crave Expo and our admission to the event was complimentary. I was not further compensated for this post.