The Fresno Food Expo is the nation’s largest regional food show and it is returning to the Fresno Convention Center Thursday, July 27.
Now in its seventh year, the Expo showcases over 140 food products grown and produced within the eight counties that make up the San Joaquin Valley.
During the day, regional food producers get a chance to meet and greet food buyers, such as people from grocery store chains, school districts, and restaurants.
Then in the evening, from 5 to 8 p.m., the public is invited to experience Expolicious. It’s your chance to taste and discover all the amazing and tasty products. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased through FresnoFoodExpo.com.
I’ve attended every single Fresno Food Expo. So in honor of its seventh year, here are seven things to know if you go!
1. The Valley is More Than Fruits and Vegetables
It’s no secret the Central Valley is rich in agriculture. We grow the best in fruits and vegetables. You’ll see the harvests of the region on display at the Fresno Food Expo, but you’ll probably be surprised with the large number of other food products made here.
For example, did you know that one of the nation’s largest salami producers is based right here in Fresno?
Busseto Foods makes over 300 thousand pounds of salami each week. They’ve been in the Central Valley since 1981, but it wasn’t until the Fresno Food Expo that people started to realize the salami they see in grocery stores like Winco, Vons and Savemart is local.
“Food Expo goers can expect to see a wider array of foods and beverages than they could image,” says Mike Grazier, CEO of Busseto Foods. “You’ll have a sense of pride that all the products come from the Central Valley.”
2. New Products Launch at the Expo
Food producers use the Fresno Food Expo to launch new products. There were 28 submissions for this year’s new product award. Everything from Cabron Hot Sauce’s Cabron Hot Jam to Two Cities Coffee Roasters’ Two Cities Barrel Aged Cold Brew Coffee.
Mallvinder Kahal returned to Madera County to farm with his family after graduating from UCLA. He’s using the Fresno Food Expo to launch Better Butter, which is an almond butter.
“I’m hoping to come out with an understanding of how things work, build partnerships, and work towards getting on store shelves,” Kahal says. “The Fresno Food Expo is a great learning tool.”
3. People Like to Get Their Drink On
In addition to sampling the foods of the Central Valley, you can taste the drinks too. Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. is featuring their craft beers, Riley’s Brewing Co. has a new handcrafted gin, and Mendota’s Cardella Winery is out with their new 2014 Barbera Reserve.
“The grapes are grown right at our estate,” says Suzanne Palazzo of Cardella Winery. “We harvest by hand.”
Cardella Winery has been taking part in the Fresno Food Expo for the past four years. Palazzo says, “The networking alone is amazing!”
4. You Can Do a Lot with Nuts
You’ll go nuts for all the different varieties and flavors of nut products at the Expo. Everything from raw almonds and walnuts to flavored pecans and spreads.
I guess it’s no surprise when almonds are Fresno County’s number one crop. They grossed $1.2 billion in 2015.
5. Food Network’s Simon Majumdar Loves the Fresno Food Scene
After getting a taste of what the Fresno Food Expo and the Central Valley had to offer last year, food critic Simon Majumdar is returning to this year’s Expo. He’s a regular on the Food Network, taking part in programs like “Iron Chef America” and “Cutthroat Kitchen.”
Simon will lead a chef and restaurant competition during Expolicious. The public can watch local chefs square off. You’ll also have a chance to taste the creations and see if you agree with Simon’s winner selections.
6. You Can Go Home With Free Stuff
Not only will you leave the Fresno Food Expo with a full stomach, there’s a good chance you’ll leave with some pretty cool swag. Many of the vendors hand out products and samples to take home.
Here’s an insider tip: stay until the end! When the booths start breaking down for the 8 p.m. closing time, many of them hand out high-dollar items.
7. Fresno Really is FresYes!
The biggest takeaway from the Fresno Food Expo and Expolicious is how awesome the region we call home is.
Where else do they grow amazing crops, produce awesome products, and have high-quality cuisine? Not too many places. Just another reason you should be proud to call FresYes home!