22167 Mon, 08/01/2011 - 11:15am
Mouth-watering smells of Spanish-influenced food filled the kitchen theater as chef Hector Santiago prepared a rice dish. Complete with luscious-looking, lime-colored fava beans, the spicy meal could be viewed bigger than life on large screens throughout the demonstration area.
Audience members, along with an emcee, asked the chef questions during his segment. Did he blanch the fava beans before adding them to the rice? Why, yes he did.
Ultimately, the audience was allowed to sample the dish—it was delicious, everybody was happy, another successful gourmet segment.
All of this took place, not at a studio for the Food Network, but at AmericasMart in Atlanta, as it continues to establish itself as a hot spot for the world of gourmet, including housewares, tabletop and fancy foods.
The kitchen stadium is at the heart, literally and figuratively, of AmericasMart’s ascension to gourmet nobility. Last month’s International Gift & Home Furnishings Market featured appearances by Cat Cora, the only female winner of “The Iron Chef,” and Linton Hopkins.
The demonstration area is designed to create excitement and identify food trends for buyers. It also lends itself to numerous cross-merchandising opportunities as it is surrounded by smaller, open air showrooms for gourmet foods, along with housewares vendors and well-known rep groups such as Ben Tally & Associates, which carries upscale brands like Krups, Joseph Joseph and Nambé.
A short walk along the crowded corridors of the eighth floor of AmericasMart revealed housewares powerhouses Lifetime Brands, Le Creuset and Jura Capresso.
New for last month’s show was L’Equip, a small electrics manufacturer based in Salt Lake City, that carries the Bosch compact mixer, along with other items that target healthy eating. The brand new 241-square-foot showroom, just down the aisle from the kitchen demo area, is the company’s first permanent showroom. “We heard this is where the action’s starting to be for the gourmet industry,” said Richard Bruggerman, L’Equip’s chief financial officer. “We like the permanent nature of it.”
“They’re doing so many great things in the kitchen,” added L’Equip Marketing Manager Linda Marrelli.
Tabletop showrooms at AmericasMart range from upstairs to downstairs, and all points in between. Atlanta got a high-end boost this market when Waterford Wedgwood returned with its long list of well-known brands. Lenox significantly expanded its AmericasMart showroom in January.
Reidel held a well-attended wine tasting course. Meanwhile, not far away, a recently expanded Tervis Tumbler showroom featured its new Harley Davidson license complete with a snazzy motorcycle in its showroom.
AmericasMart now features nearly 200,000 square feet of housewares and tabletop showrooms spread across two floors of Gourmet and Living and Entertaining.
What’s next for AmericasMart?
“We’ll continue building leadership in gourmet,” said an AmericasMart exec. “There’s plenty of room to grow.”