(Nov. 5) POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — Chefs and other customers viewed FreshPoint A-One-A Produce & Dairy’s new facility during a specialty food show and grand opening.

One of south Florida’s largest produce wholesaling operations, FreshPoint A-One-A held the Oct. 30 event inside its 170,000-square-foot warehouse that FreshPoint Inc., a subsidiary of Houston-based Sysco Corp., opened in January.

The operation features 28 truck bays for arrivals and shipments and 11 temperature zones with 21 alarmed air cooling units.

More than 600 people attended the show, the first event FreshPoint A-One-A has sponsored since FreshPoint’s 2005 purchase of A-One-A Produce, said Laura Jones, marketing manager.

“It gives our vendors the chance to have some one-on-ones with a lot of our customer base,” she said.

Chefs from operations as diverse as Denny’s, Red Lobster and California Pizza Oven interacted in a trade show that featured more than 35 fresh produce companies held in a large export cooler and cruise ship staging area.

“We’ve been here eight months, and we’re already out of space,” said Eric Sorensen, a FreshPoint export sales specialist. “We’re clicking on all cylinders with all of the pistons banging.”

Dennis Geiser, executive chef with Sheraton Suites, Plantation, said this show stood out for him.

“We’ve been to a lot of food shows,” Geiser said. “This is right up there with them. There are a lot of high-end cheeses and fruits here. This is different. You can find organic and healthier foods vs. the breads or meats found at other shows.”

Alan Abe, the Avondale, Pa.-based East Coast sales manager for Giumarra-VBM International Berry LLC, Los Angeles, liked the variety of attendees.

“I was surprised that there was a lot of international flavor here,” he said. “There were many chefs from the Ritz and the Marriotts and the Sheratons. A group of 20 chefs flew in from the Caribbean Islands to get a feel of the product lines.”

Larry Otto, vice president of business development for L&M Cos. Inc., Raleigh, N.C., said the large room offered a good venue for a food show.

“This big room was like a convention center,” Otto said. “And it’s like the Southeast Produce Council. With the size of this show, it’s a little easier to communicate and network with people than at some of the big shows.”

Bobby Martin, a salesman with Custom Pak, Immokalee, said he was impressed by the number of produce companies that participated.

“It is an awesome show,” he said. “I have met so many people from Giumarra and the other tomato guys. We do business with them from all over.”