Events on StarChefs


September 20, 2005
First Pitch: Midnight

NAFEM 2005

inspired by John Egnor (JEM Associates) and Ken Schwartz (SSA)

1999: Fruit Ball is conceived in Dallas during the NAFEM Equipment Show

2001: A two-night Fruit Ball extravaganza is played in Orlando on the beach between the Swan and Dolphin hotels, sealing the game’s fate as the centerpiece of the conference.

2003: Fruit Ball - New Orleans.

2005: Most recent game is played in Anaheim. The Fruit Ball bat was auctioned off at the end of the game with $640.00 raised to be donated to a Katrina Relief Fund.

2007: Next game – Atlanta, where anything can happen…


A “Fruitful” Event for the Latest in Foodservice Equipment

The North American Association of Food Equipment (NAFEM) held their bi-annual show this month at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. This is the first year that attended the conference, and we were pleasantly surprised by the show, which we feel should be of particular interest to chefs and restaurateurs. Unlike typical foodservice shows, NAFEM focuses solely on equipment and services for restaurants - no frozen food, no processed food, in short, no distractions. If you need to research upcoming equipment purchases or just want to check out what’s new, then this is the show to go to. NAFEM’s next show will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA, October 11-13, 2007.

While at NAFEM, StarChefs was invited to the 4th Annual Fruit Ball Classic. No elegant black-tie gala, the Fruit Ball is a down and dirty midnight baseball game with…you guessed it, fruit! Donning the white Fruit Ball Classic tee-shirt, we assembled on the rooftop of the Marriott with the food industry’s top equipment players, their sales reps and several industry consultants.

The history of Fruit Ball is a juicy story. It was conceived in 1999 at the NAFEM show in Dallas. Rick Long of Moccia Enterprises (and now the commissioner of Fruit Ball) was staying at the conference hotel and got stuck in the hotel elevator around midnight. When Rick finally emerged from the elevator three hours later, the hotel sent a fruit basket to his room as an apology for the inconvenience. Bobby Moccia, Lenny DeNote (also of Moccia Enterprises) and John Egnor of JEM Associates joined Rick in his room after the ordeal. Coincidentally, Moccia (a known baseball fanatic) had received a baseball bat as a gift earlier that day. He picked up the bat, and Egnor tossed him a grape. Bobby swung – and missed. Next Egnor tossed an orange - contact! And so the game of fruit ball was born. Today fruit ball is played wherever these overgrown kids of the foodservice industry can find a field (a parking lot, a roof top parking garage, or beach). It’s a lot more fun than you could ever imagine, owing, no doubt, to the concomitant drinking.

For more information on NAFEM. Click Here

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Behind the Scenes at the NAFEM
Fruit Ball Classic

(3rd row) Keith Carpenter, Rob Geile, Jim Currie, Lenny DeNote, David Hensel, Eric Norman, Jack Eggers, Lex Poulos, Rod Collins, Mark Walsh, Carolyn Ruck, Michael Poulos, David Hatch
(2nd row) Jackie Smith, Georgie Shockey, Brian Maloney, Bobby Moccia, Debi Benedetti Sean Maloney, Della Simpson, John Faletti
(kneeling) Galen Gillett, Kurt Eickmeyer, Ken Schwartz, John Egnor, Rick Long (commissioner), Mike Galino

Here comes the melon
Galen Gillett (Enodis)

The ammo

Eating the game!
Bobby Moccia (Moccia Enterprises)

Rod Collins (Associates), Jackie Smith (Woodstone)

Left handers in short supply
Rick Long (Commisioner)

Debi Benedetti (Management Consultant)

Running for the base
Kurt Eickmeyer

Talking strategy
Keith Carpenter (
Galen Gillett (Enodis)

Is that Rob?

Keep it down... somebody is sleeping
Galen Gillett (Enodis)

There is a bug in the ball!
Bobby Moccia (Moccia Enterprises)

The pow wow
Keith Carpenter,
Rod Collins, Jackie Smith, Bobby Moccia

It's too good to play with
Sean Maloney

Wait a minute
Keith Carpenter

Looks like guac to me
Carolyn Ruck

Here comes the pitch
Rick Long

Are we having fun yet?

A different view point

Lenny Dinote (Moccia), John Egnor, Carolyn Ruck

Kurt Eickmeyer

Fruit cup...yum!
Michael Poulos (Molteni), Carolyn Ruck, John Egnor (JEM Associates)

Oh my!
Sean Maloney
, John Egnor


Strike 3!
Mark Wals0h, Galen Gillett

He tore the cover off the ball
Michael Poulos

Time out

I've only just begun
Carolyn Ruck

Girl talk
Debi Benedetti
, Carolyn Ruck

The wind up... and the pitch
Lex Poulos (Jade), Jim Currie, Rick Long

Ken fought the Law and Ken won
Ken Schwartz (SSA)

It's a swing and a ...
Galen Gillett

We need a clean-up crew!

One way to wear your fruits

I really drank it all
Galen Gillett

Bobby, what makes you go?
Bobby Moccia

You want a piece of me?
Rick Long

Bring it!

Lock and load
Rick, Lex and Bobby


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