Bugging out at the Foodservice Expo


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Ever eaten cricket? How about boiled worms?

I tried both at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Monday, the last day of the big food industry trade show.

This year the show combined Expo Comida Latina, aimed at owners of Mexican and other Latino-oriented restaurants, and the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo, for restaurant owners and suppliers in general.


The cricket and worms were at the booth run by Francisco Garcia and his wife, Dalila Mendoza, who use the bugs in salsa they make and import from Oaxaca, Mexico. Their real specialty is mole, but they are working with the federal government to develop a way to import crickets to the U.S. for sale to Oaxacan restaurants and high-end chefs who are beginning to use them in food.

The worms are the ones traditionally used in Mescal, though the one I tried had been boiled, Garcia said. They were also selling a salsa with crickets in it.

About 15,000 people attended the three-day event, according to Ron Mathews, vice president of Reed Exhibitions of Norwalk, Conn., which put on the Western Foodservice Expo for the California Restaurant Assn. That’s less than when the economy was at its peak, but considerably more than last year, Mathews said.

For the first time, the show included a “solutions center,” where restaurant owners facing difficulties with the economy or other issues could ask questions of industry consultants.

-- Sharon Bernstein