Day 1 was "The Best of Tongs, The Worst of Tongs." Seriously. We must have tried a dozen tongs yesterday. We've never seen so many variations on tongs. We confess we've never cooked with silicone tip tongs before. Have you?
The big trends we see here are . . . • More silicone: We saw a silicone steamer by Orka and a silicone cup cake pan that creates cute lil' cakes that come together to make a cake-puzzle butterfly. Fun for kids (and us).
• Green is in again: Call it pistachio, key lime pie, jade, or just light green, it is everywhere. Pots, pot holders, rugs, pottery. These experts tell us this green says both vintage (think: Jadite) and calming zen. Some mention the populartiy of green tea drinks.
• Small is coolest: Yeah, we saw a neon salad spinner the size of Delaware, but most manufacturers do seem to have a fresh focus on our kind of cooking. When we ask for space-efficient, multi-use tools nearly every manufacturer has something to show -- folding mandolines from Zyliss, fold-down scales, folding cutting boards, tiny high design enamel tea pots "lined with the same thing they use in hot water heaters" from Chantal. The reps explain that the single people, apartment dwellers, and the growing aging population are all asking for these products. Can't wait to start posting this stuff.
• Let's hear it for the little guys: The center of the show is dominated by the big, glitzy guys like All Clad and Oxo. We love them and all their shiny innovations, but we we're charmed to meet with small producers. We discovered historic Frankoma Pottery and their perfect terra cotta bowls, hand-made in Oklahoma. Crystal, the owner of Frankoma, ran to the back of their booth to pull out her One Bowl Summer Squash Casserole recipe. Can't wait to try it.
•Celebrity Chef-i-ness: There's a whole lot of Celebrity Chef going on here. Rachel Ray branded Garbage Bowls and a smart looking line from Jamie Oliver. Will you buy cookware because your favorite TV chef's photo is on the box? Will Americans embrace the celebrity chef or are they already jumping the shark?
We're meeting up with the AT:Chicago gang to see more. We'll be back with more tomorrow.
P.S. There's a semi-strict No Photos policy here. Would love to show more so we'll see if we can sneak in some cell phone pix at least today.