The Fresno Convention Center was filled Thursday night in downtown Fresno with tasty products from local vendors and hungry crowds eager for a good bite.
The Fresno Food Expo’s public event called Expolicious allows the public to sample food and beverages from local vendors exhibiting at the sixth annual expo, which gave buyers for local, regional and international companies the opportunity to connect with more than 130 Valley food makers.
“It’s a great event to connect with the community and see what the Valley has to offer,” said first-time vendor Chelsea Reeves.
Reeves and her parents started Two Cities Coffee Roasters in Clovis in 2013 and decided to showcase their products at the expo.
Charles and Barbara Cox moved to Fresno recently and were looking for an opportunity to learn more about the Valley.
Charles Cox, who attended last year’s expo, said this year was bigger and better.
“The food is good. The wine is great, and there’s still people coming in,” he said. “You can hardly even walk, but it’s worth it. I’m getting a free dinner out of this tonight.”
Nearly 1,000 people attended Expolicious, event coordinator Amy Fuentes said.
It’s a great event to connect with the community and see what the Valley has to offer.
Two Cities Coffee Roasters co-owner Chelsea Reeves
Products and variety abounded, from Cabron Hot Sauce to California Dried Fruit, Molucca Chocolate and Sweet Potato Spirits.
Visitors raved over some products. “The garlic tri-tip from Barnett Meats is absolutely phenomenal,” said Debbie Dean of Clovis, a first-timer at the expo. “It was smoked and just out of this world.”
“The Sweet Potato Liqueur is great for women trying whiskey for the first time,” said Jackie Rocha of Atwater. “It’s similar to Fireball, but a lot smoother, with sugar and spices.”
Noel Rosa, owner of Rosa Brothers Milk Company, has been attending the expo since his company’s founding in 2012 and has watched it grow over the years.
“It’s helped springboard our company,” Rosa said. “Every year we come, and our booth gets a little better, too. We’ve been growing right along with it.”
The People’s Choice Award winner this year was Aro Gourmet Pistachios, owned by Adam Orandi, a sixth-generation pistachio farmer whose father emigrated from the Middle East in the 1970s.
“It’s exciting,” Orandi said. “It’s really a boost for morale. It’s impressive how big this has gotten.”
Orandi said he’s been to a lot of trade shows, but after speaking with larger buyers like Costco and Trader Joe’s at Thursday’s Expo, he said the Fresno Food Expo is an ideal event for local growers.
“If I were a buyer or grocery store, this place is perfect,” Orandi said.
Megan Ginise: 559-441-6614
People’s Choice: Aro Gourmet Pistachios
Buyers’ Choice: Aubrey’s Extreme Jerky, first place; Tioga Sequoia 99 Golden Ale, second place; Lanna Coffee Co. Cold Brew, third place
Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award: Lanna Coffee Co.
Restaurateurs awards: Tazzaria of Visalia, most creative; Bella Luna of Merced, best integration of expo products; Me N Ed’s Victory Grill, best food and drink pairings.