How does it feel helping Chobani win “Best in Show?” These four JWU seniors found out, when they flew to California for a different kind of hands-on experience: cooking up healthy Chobani® yogurt-based dishes at Natural Products Expo West, the country’s largest eco-friendly products trade show.
They did such a fantastic job that Chobani execs presented them with the
honorary title "MVPs of Expo West" during a surprise evening trip to
Prep Time? What Prep Time? For 3 crazy-busy days, Blair Cannon, Ayla Zimanek, Leicel Ros and Mike Shaw manned the Chobani booth, turning out fresh batches of smoothies, soups and snacks for the more than 57,000 expo attendees.
The group had to cook on a scale they’d never imagined. “From the second we touched down in Anaheim, we knew this job was going to be in the fast lane,” laughs Ayla.
Prior to the event, they met to prep and run through all the recipes they’d be making for attendees, including silver dollar pancakes, carrot soup and spring rolls with yogurt-lime dipping sauce
Improv in the KitchenOnce they were on the expo floor, they were so slammed with customers that advanced prep went out the window.
“We had to keep both our cooking stations churning out samples just to keep up with demand,” says Ayla, who nursed sore feet at the end of the day. “But it was worth it.” They quickly fell into a working groove, and handled glitches with good humor.
“When we made our 3-layer Mexican dip, we realized we hadn’t bought any chips to serve with it!” laughs Leicel. “We made fast friends with one of the nearby vendors, who gave us bags in exchange for Chobani samples.”
“Best of the West”On the last day of the expo, they received a big surprise: out of more than 3,500 exhibits, Chobani had been awarded “Best of the West” by the expo organizers.
The JWU crew couldn’t believe it. “We jumped up and down, hugged and high-fived as we realized that all of our hard work had paid off,” says Leicel. “But we still had to keep the flow of customers happy!”
For all four, it was an experience they’ll never forget. “We helped foster an incredible relationship between JWU and Chobani, and we also proved ourselves,” says Ayla, who will reprise her role at the next Expo West in March.