How to bake on the show floor

by Laurie Gorton
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LAS VEGAS — Aromas of sweet goods and fresh baked breads waft through the air on the show floor, as exhibitors bake fresh breads, rolls, cakes and more to demonstrate their systems.

“If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere,” said Amanda Hicks of Auto-Bake about the company’s decision to set up a Serpentine line, complete with depositing, baking and depanning operations in its I.B.I.E. booth. “Bakers are practical people, and they want to see it done.”

Because there are no barriers between equipment and visitors, showgoers can get up close and personal with the system. The line runs every 20 minutes, with activity at the depositing end alternating with depanning.

“We brought in a robotic depanner,” Ms. Hicks said, “so people can see that it’s very doable.”

Auto-Bake delivers the cupcakes and muffins to Unifiller next door to help demonstrate that company’s icing, topping and decorating machines.

The staff at Rheon USA worked with doughs of different hydration levels and proof times.

“Our live demonstrations simulate what our equipment is capable of doing in a real-world environment,” said Rheon’s Jon Thompson. The company showed its V4 Stress-Free Dough Feeder and new Punch Rounder. After forming, Rheon proofs the dough and then bakes it off so attendees can sample the final baked goods.

At Mecatherm, Eastern European sales representative Andrei Bezdiga generally speaks English when describing the lines during live demonstrations, but he switched to Russian after seeing a large contingent from Russia enter the booth.

“More metal makes noises, and when people hear noises, they stop to see what is happening,” said Mr. Bezdiga, explaining why equipment demonstrations attract crowds.

Large posters at Mecatherm’s booth note times for its various demonstrations, so a company making a particular product knows when to come back and view the product being produced.

Chefs working at Bunge use a customized food truck — named M.O.E. for Mobile Oil Experts — to prep both American and international favorites that demonstrate the versatility of the companies shortenings and oils. Chef Newman Miller said, “Because I.B.I.E. gets so many international visitors, we chose foods characteristic of our big markets.” For example, breakfast offerings include Mexico’s chilaquiles and Brazil’s fejudia along with the biscuits and gravy so typical of the Southern US.
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