Hospitality industry's Spring Trade Expo to take place March 9-10 in OC

February 11, 2014

Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association is preparing for the 40th anniversary Spring Trade Expo, to be held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, March 9, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, March 10, in the Ocean City Convention Center, Ocean City, Md.

As the producer of the largest mid-Atlantic trade expo, the association’s goal is to connect hospitality industry buyers and sellers. The expo provides the perfect opportunity to do one-stop shopping at nearly 400 exhibits and take part in other activities.

Rebel Chef to appear March 9

Winner of the second season of Food Network’s “Extreme Chef,” Terry French will be taking attendees on a culinary adventure as he takes the stage Sunday, March 9. Known as the “Rebel Chef,” French will lead folks through a Taste of the South Pacific during his demo, alongside him will be Papa’s Pilar Rum.

Born in Evansville, Ind., French grew up cooking with his family, crediting his upbringing for most of his foraging abilities during the “Extreme Chef” competition. French served in the U.S. Navy, completing two world tours. He also spent nine years as a tournament fisherman, nine years as a first mate on a sport-fishing boat, and is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain.

French will appear beginning at noon Sunday on the Red, White & Brew Stage, on the lower level in the new Dockside Hall.

Dockside Hall will also offer 20 booths filled with local craft brews and wines. There are another 30 booths featuring the latest and most innovative products on the market. Liz Walk, event manager, noted, “For months, we’ve been gathering companies that represent products and services pertinent to our industry. I’m so excited to see it all come together.”

Tony Hilligoss to demonstrate home brewing

The Red, White & Brew Stage will offer other chef demos and discussions. At 3 p.m., March 9, local chef and culinary instructor Tony Hilligoss, CCE, will guide attendees through the art of home brewing during his creation of an oyster stout. Oysters will be provided by Martin Fish Company, which has been operating out of the West O.C. commercial fishing harbor for five generations. In 2012, Hilligoss was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of the American Culinary Federation. Hilligoss and his wife have recently opened, Brews Up, a new supply store offering beer- and wine-making classes.

Another inductee into the AAC and Maryland’s Chef of the Year 2009, Gary Leach will demonstrate his skills utilizing Jesse James Original, Honey and Spiced bourbons at 11:30 a.m., Monday, March 10.

The Red, White and Brew Stage will also be a hot spot during WOCM Ocean 98.1’s HeadRush Orange Crush competition for local bartenders from Ocean City, Fenwick Island, Dewey and Rehoboth Beach. Check out for details.

Food Network competitor, chef and sugar artist featured

The expo has three exhibit halls, and located on the second level is the Bayfront Ballroom, which will feature sugar artist Chef Steven Weiss, who has appeared on Food Network’s “Sugar Inventions” six times and on the network's “Sugar Impossible, Flying Sugar and Pastry Daredevils.” He will display his talents beginning at 11:30 a.m., Sunday and noon, Monday in booth 2000-2001.

Educational sessions, designed with operators’ challenges in mind, will run throughout the two-day expo in Room 209 on the second level.

Hospitality and foodservice consultant Nick Mautone will lead two sessions. As the managing partner of Gramercy Tavern, Mautone helped create and maintain what became the No. 1 restaurant in New York, widely considered one of the best restaurants in America.

The expo is only open to hospitality professionals; to attend, guests must be in the lodging or dining business, a liquor store, convenience store, cafeteria, nursing home, hospital or school, etc. Free preregistration is available until Thursday, Feb. 27; after that date, attendees may register onsite for $15 per person with proof of being in the industry.

For more information, check out or call 1-800-626-2326, Ext 2.