Running any business is tough, but those who venture into the food/beverage arena are simply amazing to me because there are so many variables to manage. Labor, overhead, food costs, the fickle nature of people’s tastes, the impact of social media and new technology are just some of them.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) show 2017 touches on all of these and more, while also giving the hardworking industry talent reasons to celebrate and opportunities to unwind.
Prepare for a taste of culinary innovation.
Held in Chicago’s McCormick Place from May 20–23, the show is a splendid experience, offering 45,000+ attendees and four sensory-overloaded days of classes, presentations, awards shows, parties—and the chance to sample new culinary creations.
The trends and innovations that begin in foodservice often ultimately make their way into home kitchens, which is another incentive to check out this show.
Don’t miss out on these appetizing experiences.
Here are some of my highlights for this year’s show:
- The 2017 Kitchen Innovations® (KI) Awards will feature 18 examples of groundbreaking technology and equipment that deliver efficiency to the restaurant kitchen—including a CBD client! Rational Ovens offers a self-cooking combi oven that saves both energy and space.
- Start-up Alley. The digital revolution continues to disrupt restaurant operations, and 14 new technologies that help with everything from food safety compliance to interfacing with consumers are showcased. One that intrigues me is Thrst, a scalable platform that cues restaurants on guest habits and preferences, and migrates the entire customer experience to a mobile device.
- The largest “Made in Italy” food and beverage showoutside of the mother country takes place here—and YOU can be a judge!
- The FABI awardshonor new food/beverage concepts, loosely defined as “better-for-you”, “gluten-free”, “uses breakthrough ingredients” and everything in between.
Some of this year’s winners include:
- Baguette bagels from ACE Bakery®/Weston Foods
- Mike’s Hot Honey(chili infused honey)
- New, decadent offerings from The Eli’s Cheesecake Company
- Get ready for a crazy Monday night in CBD’s River North neighborhood with the Block Party– eight venues offering food/drink specials plus entertainment from 9:30 pm until midnight. And it’s free with your NRA show badge!