Come together: A look at the Connect Show

Matthew Bowcott talked about his life-changing accident in a QSR.

Matthew Bowcott talked about his life-changing accident in a QSR.

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By Leslie Wu

VANCOUVER—Matthew Bowcott still recalls the sound of his own screaming filling the restaurant 11 years after an accident at a QSR put him in the hospital with injuries to more than 40 per cent of his body. 

“You wouldn’t think that you could lose your life cooking,” he said to a room full of foodservice industry professionals during his keynote speech at the Connect Show in Vancouver in late October. 

When Bowcott was 19 years old, 10 gallons of 375-degree oil splashed over his upper body, causing heat trauma to his face, neck and chest and swelling of his internal organs. 

“No job or any amount of money is worth this,” he said, showing slides of the blistering from his first, second and third-degree burns. Bowcott now travels to schools and industry events for WorkSafeBC speaking about worker rights and workplace accident prevention.

Both risk management and worker issues were common themes throughout the conference. Labour, specifically, was top-of-mind, pervading the education sessions with discussions on the use of temporary foreign workers and potential worker shortages in the province’s future. David Ferguson, senior associate with consulting firm PKF, spoke about how development costs in the province will rise throughout 2014.

“We’re at a time in history where we have jobs looking for people instead of people looking for jobs,” said Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond at the industry lunch.

More than 4,000 attendees and 316 exhibitors came to the show at the Vancouver Convention Centre, according to show organizers. 

This marks the first time that organizers of the BC Foodservice Expo and BC Hospitality Industry Expo combined their efforts in a two-day joint show. 

Demonstrations on the show floor included a noodle pulling lesson by chef Garley Leung.

Demonstrations on the show floor included a noodle pulling lesson by chef Garley Leung.

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On the show floor, concurrent stage presentations showed off hand- crafted noodle pulling, steak carving and other skill sets.

In a series of 45-minute black box heats on opposite corners of the tradeshow, the province’s chefs stepped up to the stage to compete for the BC Chefs’ Association’s Top BC Chef and Top BC Asian Chef. 

Executive chef of Centreplate at BC Place Stadium William Tse took home the win in the BC Chefs’ Association’s Chinese Chef of the Year competition (Tse swept both award competitions during last year’s BC Foodservice Expo).

This year, Kevin Wall, chef at the Joey Group, won the judges’ acclaim for Top BC Chef with plates including beef tenderloin with a warm potato and kale salad.

Business by association

On an association level, the Alliance of Beverage Licencees (ABLE) BC board of directors voted to select a new president, Poma Dhaliwal, who has been a board member for three terms and the owner/operator of the Jolly Miller Pub and Liquor Store in Chilliwack for 26 years. 

From the lodging side, Ingrid Jarrett took over the two-year position as president of the BC Hotels Association, while David Wetsch steps down.

Industry snapshot

At an industry trends breakfast, Robert Carter from the NPD Group shone a spotlight on the eating habits of B.C. residents. “In British Columbia, operators that are growing are stealing share from other operators,” said Carter. Some takeaways from Carter’s presentation include: 

25 per cent of the B.C. population is Asian. It’s a young population, more willing to spend on organic food.

B.C. has the highest number of snacking occasion across Canada among all the provinces.

In terms of restaurant markets, B.C. and Quebec are the most similar.

Factors that influence eating behaviour include money, time, habits and consumer education.