Aromas of frying bacon, baking croissants and twirling candy-floss drifted from the East London International Convention Centre, where the Fridge Foods Festival was held yesterday.
The annual trade food fair attracts food suppliers from all over South Africa, giving them an opportunity to display their new ranges to customers from the Buffalo City hospitality, catering and retail industry as well as to institutions like schools, universities or prisons.
Order sheets in hand, clients roamed from stall to stall sampling bite-sized morsels including sausages, cakes, cheeses, chicken and pies.
Clad in a skin-tight safari suit, wacky comedian Gino Fabbri, in his guise as Poefter van Zyl, had them choking on their cheddar bites with his zany commentary and pop-up charity auctions.
“It’s lucky my safari pant is made of lycra so it can stretch, because I’m going to eat so much today that my safari suit jacket will pop,” he joked while sampling a toothpick of polony.
Fridge Foods Group director Mark Rogers, said the East London distribution company, which also has branches in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, had been running the festival for more than 20 years and that more suppliers attended every year.
“This festival started very small and we originally held it at the East London Golf Club with suppliers only and no customers.”
“New products get launched here and suppliers can show clients how to use them. Chicken and pork products are especially popular.” Supplier, Christof Dubois was a first-timer at the trade fair with his range of croissants and Danish pastries imported from Belgium.
“I want to provide the East London trade with something different,” said Dubois, whose confections can be served from freezer to the plate in 20 minutes.
Keegan Ridgway of Afdex, who was serving prawn and tilapia cocktails, said the fair was good exposure for his new ranges, while Riaan Victor of Worcester, who was selling a new range of preservative-free butter, said the festival was a direct way to draw attention to new products.
Windmill Roadhouse and Cafe Neo owner Phytos Kyriacou said: “It’s wonderful that a local distributor puts on a show of this calibre.”
Noluthando Skepe, who runs a canteen at Mdantsane prison for correctional officers, said she had sampled and ordered Russian sausages and chicken patties and was keen to add them to her menu. “I come to the festival every year because I always find something new.” — email@example.com