It's always a who's who parade of notable names trekking to Chicago each year for the International Home and Housewares Show at McCormick Place.
The 2013 edition, which opened last weekend and concluded Tuesday, not only had culinary luminaries traveling from far, like Chef Emeril Lagasse up from New Orleans, but also some local claim-to-fame faces, like executive chef Joe Arvin of Schererville who co-founded the restaurant SmashMouth Burgers & Pizza on U.S. 30, before becoming an international personality when selected to be a reality star last year on Season 14 of "Big Brother" on CBS. He's no longer affiliated with SmashMouth Burgers & Pizza.
But he was in good company while at this year's International Housewares Show, where he was hired to do demos for the booth representing The Legacy Company, the umbrella firm that owns Omega Juicers, Zeroll utensils and other popular product lines.
Chef Emeril was busy booths away pitching for his new line of food storage containers for Snapware, which he demonstrated for me, and Times columnist colleague Eloise Valadez. (Eloise has been friends with Chef Emeril since 1996).
Some of the star chefs who did cooking demonstrations on stage at this year's show include Rick Bayless, Stephanie Izard, Paula Deen, Todd English, Gale Gand, The Hearty Boys, Cat Cora and Cake Boss Buddy Valastro.
Even the master of the popular "As Seen on TV" infomercials, Ron Popeil, who turns 78 in May, flew in from California for a brief visit to the Ronco products booth on Sunday. (He sold his interest in the company in 2005).
Gone, but not forgotten, from previous years making annual appearances at the International Home and Houseware Shows are names like fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who would always eagerly show-off his line of juicers before we lost him at age 96 in January 2011 and also kitchen legend Julia Child, who would be 100 right now, had she not passed in August 2004.
Our own Chef Joe, 42, who originally hails from Kentucky, has plenty of exciting projects coming up in the future.
A 1996 graduate of Baltimore International Culinary College, he said audiences may possibly see him on the popular Food Network cable series "Chopped" in the future.
Created by Michael Krupat, produced by Linda Lea, and hosted by Chicago food guy Ted Allen, it's the show that pits four chefs against each other competing for a chance to win $10,000.
Chef Joe said for now, since he's technically still under contract with "Big Brother" until September, he's only been added to the "Chopped" stable of "potential chefs" who might be possibly featured for a future season.
Currently, when not traveling and appearing at trade and industry shows, he said he's busy still scouting just the right Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland location to open his new Madlove Bistro & Catering restaurant.
His new cookbook "Madlove Cooking" (December 2012 CreateSpace Independent Publishing $29.99), written with his wife Sarah, is still selling well and web site madlovecooking.tv even sells a line of "Madlove" t-shirts and apparel.