Monthly Archives: May 2013

Top 5 Trends from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show


The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show is the largest foodservice show in America.  Held every year in May at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL, the NRA Show brings together over 1,800 exhibitors and tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world.

This year, HQO’s Vice President of New Business, Willam Madden, who is based in Chicago, took a quick tour of the show and noticed these top trends:

Aloe Vera Water by Novamex

Aloe Vera Water by Novamex

1. Gluten Free

2. Aloe Water

3. Hummus

4. Snacks – Especially Popcorn

5. Lollipops & Other Individual Dessert Offerings

For more insight on the trends seen at the NRA Show, check out these great articles and videos:

Top 10 culinary trends at 2013 NRA Show by Bret Thorn of Nation’s Restaurant News.

Top 3 trends from the show floor at NRA Show 2013 by Tricia Smith of SmartBlog on Food & Beverage.

Trends in beverages and foodservice from the National Restaurant Association Show 2013 by Jonas Feliciano, Beverages Industry Analyst and Elizabeth Friend, Foodservice Industry Analyst of EuroMonitor International.

Meet the HQO Team: Michael Klass

Name: Michael Klass Michael Klass Pic copy

HQO Role: East Coast Sales Manager

Place of Birth: A Jersey boy and proud of it! (Well, for the most part.)  Born in Newark and now lives in Morganville, just 40 minutes from the beaches. He lived in Brooklyn for 18 months and vowed he’ll never go back.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Rowan University. MBA in Marketing from Rutgers Graduate School of Management.

Why Michael Chose HQO: Michael has always had a passion for food and fitness and was eagerly seeking a place that was a better fit for his values.  HQO’s entrepreneurial, fast-paced environment and dynamic sales team sealed the deal for Michael.  He’s excited to put his strengths to work on growing sales on the east coast.

Why HQO Chose Michael: Great experience in food ingredient sales paired with a love of food, family and fitness is what brought Michael to the attention of HQO. His energetic, go-get-‘em attitude and demonstrated sales experience will make him a valuable asset to the HQO team. He has hit the ground running and we’re confident his contributions will be a great asset to the next chapter in HQO’s growth.

Memories with Michael: Michael refers to his wife of 20 years as his beautiful bride. (Can we say brownie points?) He’s fully aware his teenage daughter is totally embarrassed by his presence.  Meanwhile, he’s happy to have a nine-year-old son who still thinks his dad is “kinda” cool.  Michael loves to entertain but not just at home, he has been known to do some killer DJing at a handful of parties each year.  (Now, to come up with a reason to put that skill to work at HQO!)

Meet the HQO Team: Liam Le

Name: Liam LeLiem Boat Pic copy

HQO Role: Senior Buyer

Place of Birth: Born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam. Immigrated to Southern California at age 14.

Education: B.S. Business Management

Why Liam Chose HQO: I have a background in sourcing and managing a supply chain but have never been able to match my career with my passions for health and cooking. When I saw an ad for the position, I thought it would be a great fit. I was affirmed with that feeling when I went through the interview process.  From my first phone calls with Toby (VP of Supply Chain) and Raju (HQO’s CEO) to meeting the entire team, I have been blown away by the time and energy HQO not only puts into serving their customers but recruiting, training and welcoming new team members.  I’m so happy to be part of HQO family!

Why HQO Chose Liam: Liam not only demonstrated a great supply management skills set from his time at International Paper and Quickstart, but he also shows great drive, interpersonal skills and a sense of adventure.  Those strengths married with his passion for health and wellness made him an easy pick for our growing team.  We’re very excited to watch him develop and add value to our supply chain. Welcome Liam!

A Little About Liam: One of Liam’s favorite quotes is by the great Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

From backpacking in Asia for six months to cruising around stateside on his Harley Davidson Sportster, Liam is an adventurous soul with a desire to enjoy the outdoors any way possible.  Just ask him about that time in Yosemite. Yeah, thank goodness we didn’t know about that one before we hired him! ;0) (Liam’s reply, “Ah, ya live and learn.”)

HQO Market Insight: Hispanics

Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. Learn more about this important market opportunity in our latest white paper below. Click here to download the pdf.

If you’re not sure how to create Hispanic-friendly flavors or products, we’d be happy to be your resource.  High Quality Organics not only provides thousands of certified organic ingredients — many of which meet the flavor preferences of Hispanics — but our in-house R&D team (including 15-year herb and spice veteran Chef Dawn Wykoff) can help you create a custom blend or product that meats the needs of the rapidly growing Hispanic market. Contact us today at or 775-971-8550.

Corn: A Classic Taste of Mexican Heritage

As the days lengthen and temperatures rise, there is one produce-section star I anticipate with great delight.  My mouth waters and my eyes begin to search the produce sections, road-side stands and back-yard BBQ’s for that sweet and fresh treat… roasted corn on the cob!

The Street Food of Mexico

Photo courtesy of

Elcote, Mexican-style corn on the cob. Photo courtesy of

For the ultimate corn experience however, you will need to head to Mexico, where corn on the cob, or elote, is commonly sold from street carts and adorned with everything from butter, chili, and lime to mayonnaise, cumin and sharp cojita cheese.  If you can’t travel south, try making it yourself with one of our favorite recipes.

Organic Farming in Mexico

Mexico organic farmers plant 17.2 million acres in corn, mostly for human consumption (think of the fresh corn tortillas ubiquitous at mealtimes).  While conventional farming experiences the ups and downs of GMO politics and global price fluctuations, the organic farms of Mexico are part of a more stable and growing industry.  According to Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Mexico is estimated to have more than 169,570 organic farmers, considered the third largest country for organic farmers (behind India and Uganda) with approximately 1.2 million acres in production in 2012.

The History of Corn

Photo courtesy of Natural Resource Conservation and Policy.

Photo courtesy of Natural Resource Conservation and Policy.

We in the U.S. have come to embrace corn and think of it as our own; a true-blue, U.S.A. flag-waving country-bred person is proudly called a “corn-fed American.”  And although no American summer event is complete without the complimentary presence of that juicy yellow treat, it is Mexico who has the deepest cultural relationship with corn.  It is a relationship that goes way back, back to its now-extinct grass ancestor “teosinte.”  Research indicates that corn (or maize) was domesticated and grown for food as far back as 7-10,000 years ago in Central Mexico.  In fact, the phrase “true corn-fed American” should probably refer to the Central Americans whose empires and cultures were built on the nutritious, high-yielding and high-energy food staple, corn.   The Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs and others thrived on and highly revered their main crop.

Where to Buy Organic Corn Ingredients

High Quality Organics sells 100% organic corn silk, syrup, starch and corn flour and maintains great relationships with its Mexican farmers. Our customers use corn flower in baking blends, soups and snacks.  As a popular gluten-free option, be on the lookout for organic corn;  a rock-star of produce stands and health food aisles alike.