Author: Robert Stepanek

ITALIAN DENOMINATIONS OF ORIGIN

From May 18 to May 25 the Italian Trade Agency presented Italy on Madison, a celebration of Italian culture and cuisine involving restaurants, fashion showrooms and businesses, and featuring panel discussions and special events. On May 23 there were three of the latter, with two taking place at the Italian Trade Commission on East 67th Street. I attended the morning event, entitled ‘Women in Wine: The Italian Perspective’, wherein a panel of five professionals recounted their experiences as trailblazing women in the world of wine, and offered advice for those in attendance aspiring to follow in their path; afterwards guests were treated to a sumptuous lunch prepared by Il Gattopardo restaurant. The evening event was a comprehensive presentation of Italian food items – focusing on the Denominations of Origin which confirm the authenticity and quality of products and ingredients – in the format of a relaxed 10-course dinner.

‘ENJOY THE FRESH SIDE OF LIFE’ – WINES OF BRAZIL

Walking down Mercer Street on May 12th to attend an ICFF related event, I passed by something I didn’t know about in advance which was also timed to coincide with the furniture fair – a pop-up exhibition space called Casa Brasil. During the last iteration of the Interior Design confab – which atypically unfolded in November 2021, due to the Covid lockdown canceling the event from its normal Spring occurrence in both 2020 and 2021 – the Brazilians showcased their prodigious variety of interior design and furniture products at a temporary showroom in SoHo. With the ICFF restored to its habitual place on the calendar of May in 2022, the Brazilians upped the ante, with the trade organization ApexBrasil renting out a vast exhibition space spanning the block between Mercer Street and Broadway (with entrances on both), and featuring not only design and furniture from Brazil there but also hosting talks and programming focusing on other aspects of the nation encompassing manufacturing, travel, cuisine and wines.

THE LONDON PRODUCE SHOW & CONFERENCE 2019

The global nature of the produce business was fully evidenced throughout the London Produce Show and Conference (LPS19), put on by the Fresh Produce Consortium and Produce Business magazine over June 5-7 at Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott hotel on London’s Park Lane. As the UK’s leading global produce get-together, it enables suppliers and buyers to connect within an immersive networking event in one of the world’s iconic cities for the fresh fruit, vegetable and flower industries. Drawing upon London’s traditional role as an international hub of trade and commerce, with the LPS19 the fresh produce industry has thus built upon a regional retail scene that is evolving rapidly and matched that with a reach that is unparalleled.

BOOK EXPO 2019 PREVIEW

One of the trends I have noticed in attending BookExpo over the last several years is that it seems to have gotten smaller with regards to the size and floor space it covers at the Javits Center at the same time it has expanded in a way to welcome more and more people who are not publishing industry professionals into the space. The former phenomenon certainly has to do with a consolidation in the industry, with any number of smaller publishing houses having been acquired by larger corporate entities (one of my favorite publishers, Black Dog & Leventhal, being a case in point); undoubtedly, too, the progressive growth in online sales of not only books but also related intellectual properties has contributed to the apparent contraction of the size and scope of the annual event – it’s easy to forget if you’re an attendee who creates, reads or reviews content that BookExpo primarily functions for the sake of book sellers and others in the business of delivering that content to consumers. With regards to the latter aspect, it’s mostly felt in the transitioning of the three days of BookExpo into the two final days of BookCon within the same Javits footprint – wherein the floor space taken up by exhibitors shrinks even more, but the public attendee crowd swells, not only to browse areas where they can purchase books but also to sit in on public presentations by authors and other publishing notables.

BEER, BOURBON & BBQ 2019

If it’s January in New York City, that means the annual ‘Beer Bourbon & BBQ’ culinary extravaganza will be taking place, allowing folks from the greater New York area (and regions besides) to flock to The Tunnel at 608 West 28 Street in West Chelsea to fulfil the appetite of their ‘Inner Redneck.” Happening on January 26th, the theme for 2019 is ‘BEAST MODE. TASTE IT. SIP IT. PORK IT’ (which has been trademarked by presenters the Trigger Agency to mark the occasion), and it is an apropos coinage for the opening event of a series that is staged throughout various cities across the eastern seaboard over the year, from Florida to New York. 

APAP 2019/JANUARY IN NYC 2019

The most comprehensive annual celebration of the performing arts around the globe, encompassing a convergence of 14major performing arts industry forums and public festivals, is about to take place once again in New York City with the 2019 edition of JanArtsNYC. With the broad menu of cultural events including American Realness (Jan. 4-13; americanrelaness.com), Chamber Music of America Conference (Jan. 17-20l chamber-music.org), Drama League DirectorFest (Jan. 28; directorfest.org), National Sawdust’s FERUS Festival (Jan. 4-8; nationalsawdust.org/festivals-and-series/ferus), globalFEST (Jan. 6; globalfest.org), ISPA Congress (Jan. 8-10; ispa.org), Jazz Congress (Jan. 7-8; jazzcongress.org), NYC Winter Jazzfest (Jan. 4-12; winterjazzfest.com), The Joyce Theater’s American Dance Platform (Jan. 3-7; joyce.org), Performance Space New York (Jan. 5-31; performancespacenewyork.org), PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now (Jan. 5-13; prototypefestival.org), and The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival (Jan. 3-13; undertheradarfestival.com), perhaps the most important of these will be the 62ndannual Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Conference. Taking place at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel from January 4-8, the APAP Conference in 2019 will host more than 3,600 performing arts professionals (including persons who represent leading performing arts centers, municipal and university performing arts facilities, culturally specific organizations, foreign governments, artist agencies, managers, touring companies, consultants and self-represented artists) as they experience some 1,000 performance showcases, network at a 370-booth EXPO Hall, and attend professional development and plenary sessions addressing issues impacting their industry.

MONTECUCCO CONSORZIO TUTELA

Among the five principal wine producing areas in Tuscany, Montecucco is one of two located in the southernmost realm of Maremma, abutting Brunello di Montalcino to the south and west, and lying directly north of Morellino di Scansano; further west is Bolgheri, and a ways north is the Chianti Classico region – thus, it’s unsurprising that the primary grapes grown there are Sangiovese. As with all things agricultural – particularly in Italy, but truly everywhere, given the demand by an increasingly informed public for assurance of the sourcing of any products they consume – a reliable means of certification is the guarantee that what you’re getting is both authentic and meets the standards of quality established by producers in any region or realm. So, it was that in 1998 the Appellation (DOC) of Montecucco wines was born, with Consortium for the protection of these wines founded two years later, and to mark the “20 Years of Designation of Origin” the Consorzio gathered an international group of wine aficionados to help celebrate the anniversary and provide their guests with an opportunity to discover and appreciate the region and its wines in depth and up close.

SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW 2018

Whenever I walk the aisles of a well-known supermarket chain – which need not be named – it’s not an infrequent occurrence that there will tables set up where eager and (mostly) young people are engaged in demonstrations of new products, from chocolates to granola bars, from beer to coffee, from chips made from all variety of vegetables to dipping sauces to dunk them in. Most such products are launched on their journey to the commercial marketplace by being featured in the Fancy Food Show, which is staged by the Specialty Food Association twice a year and on both coasts – the Summer version taking place in New York at the Javits Center. Running from June 30 to July 2 in 2018, it promises not only to herald upcoming flavorful and imaginative additions to the American palate, but also to provide attendees – most of whom are engaged the food industry, from retailers to manufacturers to consultants, and the like – with opportunities to gain greater knowledge about the business while they network with partners, vendors and colleagues.

THE REIMAGINED BOOK EXPO 2018

While the growth in the marketing and selling of books has undeniably and irreversibly been changed by digital media – chiefly by the presence and influence of a company I need not name – the resiliency of the publishing industry is nonetheless demonstrated by manifold developments. As BookExpo America, North America’s largest gathering of book trade professionals, prepares to descend upon Manhattan once again, it has been re-branded The Reimagined BookExpo (though the url to access detailed information about it remains www.bookexpoamerica.com) to reflect  the evolving nature of the business, and while there will indeed be elements and presentations familiar to the global audience of publishers, writers, agents, booksellers and readers who attend the festivities unfolding at the Javits Center from May 30thto June 1st, there will thus, as always, be new wrinkles reflecting the ever-changing climate.

APAP 2018 WRAP UP

January is quite possibly the busiest of months for the performing arts in New York City – a place already busier than just about anywhere with options for audiences of music, dance, theater and related disciplines – and so it is fitting that the annual conclave where arts presenters from around the US gather to meet, to see live acts, and discuss the issues surrounding their industry is at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals [APAP] Conference, which took place from January 12-16. Timed to take place in a partnership that includes 11 performing arts industry events throughout the month, under the mantle JanArtsNYC, APAP has as part of its history of programming incubated such events as the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and globalFEST, and thus has occupied a leadership role in the field. As usual, the NY Hilton Hotel was the hub of activity for 2018, with various showcases and other events timed to coincide with the conference going on all over the city.