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Day Two: Take It Up a Notch

On Monday, the show floor of the International Home + Housewares Show was buzzing and busy. The traffic that moved through the three exhibit halls at McCormick Place was crowded, fast paced and brisk. Most exhibitors seemed to be doing a lot of talking to interested parties about their wares. “Bright” colors — shades of blue, purple, orange, subdued reds and greens — dominated product lines on the floor. The mood was upbeat and positive.

“Yesterday was the busiest Sunday I’ve seen in the last four or five years,” said Scott Salzstein at the Handi-Foil booth, who has exhibited at the show over the last 19 years. He said the show has grown each year presenting the perfect platform to stage housewares across its many product categories for retailers to preview.

Supermarket buyers were reportedly on the show floor visiting exhibitors, but they seemed to elude me.

At 3 p.m. a large crowd gathered at the All Clad booth to watch celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse cook up a simple meal on a high tech new Tafel indoor grill.

As the crowd patiently awaited Lagasse’s appearance, his assistant, George, adjusted the stove burners to warm up the audience. An All Clad representative came out to introduce the chef by shouting — “how do you spell Emeril! Give us an E, give us a M .....” She then threw black Emeril signature souvenir caps to the crowd with the shout of each letter.

Lagasse came out to say he would demo a simple meal by grilling rib eye steaks; making mashed potatoes with garlic and spice, plus glazed carrots, kale and a medley of roasted vegetables — beets, parsnips, carrots and shallots — all in season.

After preparing the roasted veggies to cook in a 375-degree oven, Lagasse moved to the grill. “It’s 1,700 watts,” he told the gathering. Then, he thanked consumers for supporting his All Clad cookware line. He lauded the great grilling space of the indoor grill and pointed out the clever design of the drip pan.

I didn’t stick around for the famous Lagasse BAM! But moved on in search of those elusive supermarket chain buyers.