Thursday, August 13, 2015

A tale of two cities: My adventure at the Atlanta & New York food shows

By Elizabeth Schude

I can’t get no satisfaction. Maybe that’s because I turned down a date with Mick Jagger. Okay, it wasn’t a real date, but I had the chance to meet him backstage at a Rolling Stones concert during a recent business trip to Atlanta.

My company, Polar Tech Industries based in Genoa, Illinois, sent me and a co-worker to the International Dairy Deli Bake Association convention in June for the purpose of showcasing our products.  We offer hundreds of temperature safe shipping and transport packaging products – in all shapes and sizes.

Our first day at the convention was chaotic. Our luggage was missing and I quickly lost my cool as the air-conditioning wasn’t working. Drenched in sweat, we scrambled to set up our exhibit from pallets of boxes that arrived suspiciously filthy. For the first two hours, we ripped open our boxes and watched the heat index go from OMG to OMF (Oh My Frizz). I wondered if the hole in the ozone layer just got bombed. Corrugated fibers, foam, labels and pieces of tape were flying through the hot air and some of them ended up tangled in my hair. Needless to say, I desperately needed a cocktail by the end of the day – and that’s how I almost met Mick Jagger.


So I’m standing inside a crowded sports bar watching the Blackhawks game with my co-worker, Sean Joyce, when a stranger offers me a chair next to him. A cocktail or two later, he identifies himself as Mick Jagger’s driver. Initially, I didn’t believe him – until he showed me photos. By the end of the night, he invites us to the concert and offers me a backstage introduction to Mick Jagger. I can’t believe my luck. I almost start jumping for joy before I remember that I’m flying out of Atlanta the next morning. I wistfully inform him that my date with Mr. Mick is a no-go.

The next day, I kicked myself for not exchanging phone numbers with the driver. Our flight was canceled and we stayed another night. I cursed Lady Luck for playing hide-and-seek with me again. Fortunately, she wasn’t missing in action during the entire trip. The trade show was peppered with celebrities from all over the culinary world – and I ended up basking in their starlight.

Martha Stewart autographed her book for me. I watched Chef Aaron Sanchez (famous for appearing on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and “Chopped”) demonstrate how to make chorizo meatballs. Then I hung out at a table with Cake Boss Buddy Volastro - watching his baking demonstrations. I also shook hands with celebrity Chef Antonia Lofaso, who competed on Top Chef. Overall, the Atlanta food show was a star-studded event.

A few weeks later, my adventure continued in New York. We were at the Fancy Food trade show exhibiting our products. Though the trade show had its share of celebrity chefs (including “Chopped” TV show host Ted Allen and chef/judge Alex Guarnaschelli), my most memorable experiences were the wide variety of amazing culinary creations offered by the vendors. Ever hear of camel milk? Yep. I tried it. Produced by Desert Farms in California, it has 50 percent less fat than USDA whole milk and tastes slightly salty - but deliciously smooth and refreshing.

A big fan of summer sausage, I then sampled a few slices from Lone Mountain Wagyu. Made from 100 percent full-blood wagyu beef, it melted in my mouth like butter. Free of fillers and preservatives, its unique flavor comes from a blend of filet mignon, striploin, ribeye, flat iron, brisket and ground beef.

Another amazing culinary creation came from Nella Pasta.  Their roasted beet, goat cheese and tarragon ravioli was deliciously unique. Creamy and earthy, their handcrafted mixture of produce, artisanal cheese and signature wheat blend made for some exceptional ravioli.

With all this amazing food around me, I decided to break up with my diet for a few days. I was pretty sure that those tiny creatures that live in our closets and sew our clothes a little bit tighter each night would be having a field day in my hotel room. But I didn’t care.

I sashayed over to the Big Picture Farm booth. Known for its assortment of goat milk caramels and cheeses, I tried the chai goat milk caramels (Winner of a Good Food Award in 2012). The taste was absolutely irresistible.

I truly enjoyed my culinary adventures in both Atlanta and New York. The conventions lingered with an aroma of delicious treats that begged to be devoured.  A plethora of yummy cheeses, sausages, cakes, cookies and other treats called out my name. Next time, I’m definitely wearing stretch pants.

As for our exhibit, we displayed a wide range of Polar Tech’s containers, leak-proof ice packs, absorbent wadding, Cool Stuff Mailers and many more temperature sensitive products. As visitors passed by, I only had a few seconds to stop them in their tracks and wow them with our products.

They’d often see me stabbing our Ice-Brix cold pack with a pen to demonstrate they are leak-proof. People often inquired about our new Absolute Zero Dry Ice Snow Maker, which produces 17.5 pounds of snow every 2 minutes and allows your product to stay colder much longer in transit. This was the main attraction at our booth.  Check out Polar Tech’s video. I’m happy to report that many representatives from gourmet meat, seafood, dairy, cupcake and chocolatier companies stopped by and showed interest.

In a nutshell, my experience at both trade shows was truly amazing. I had the pleasure of meeting lots of wonderful people, trying great products and I look forward to keeping in touch and forming business partnerships with many of these companies.  

Featured product of the month:
Expectations have increased. It doesn’t matter if you use dry ice or not, it’s important to use absorbent packaging material. I recommend “Cellulose Wadding part No. 176.” It’s a lightweight multi-layer absorbent that helps your shipping container products arrive intact and it absorbs condensation such as water and oil. It also adds strength and protection to your package. Packaging should never be taken lightly. For a free sample of our wadding products, please email me at  

Featured Businesses of the month:
Big thanks to the purchasing director at David’s Cookies for taking us on a grand tour of their facility in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, and offering an amazing selection of delicious treats. I also want to recognize Echo Valley Meats, based in Bartonville, Illinois, and thank its owner for taking me on a tour of his facility and treating me to an award-winning brisket. Congratulations on winning Shark Tank, David! Polar Tech values the many partnerships it has formed over the years, like David’s Cookies and Echo Valley Meats, and looks forward to many more new ones in the future.

Liz Schude
Sales Executive
(800) 423-2749 x 123