Looking for something foodservice related? Try this whopper of an event.
The 90th annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show might have shrunk a tad, thanks to the economy, but have no fear. There will be plenty to see, do, sample and learn during the four-day extravaganza. It's set for Saturday, May 16th-Tuesday, May 19 at the usual location, Chicago's McCormick Place.
This year, the exhibit floor will sprawl across the entire third floor of the cavernous convention center. To make it a bit easier to navigate, the exhibit space will be dotted with pavilions devoted to specific product categories (see box).
Over four days, you can accomplish a great deal, including:
- hear about the latest trends from industry leaders
- get a celebrity chef to autograph his or her newest cook book
- shop for new front- and back-of-the-house furnishings, fixtures and equipment
- try out a software program you've been considering
- sample foods you might add to expand your menu
- pick up tips from design and facilities experts
- meet up with old pals and make new contacts
- learn something that will help your business or boost your career
and much, much more.
More than 65 education sessions are available during the show, all of them free to registered attendees. Each seminar or panel discussion fits into one of the following categories: food and healthy living, jobs and careers, profitability and entrepreneurship, sustainability and social responsibility, and technology. A sampling of what's available:
“Join the Green Restaurant Revolution,” in which Ted's Montana Grill honchos Ted Turner and George McKerrow have a candid discussion of their efforts to create a green, sustainable chain.
“How to Recession-Proof Your Business”: Bryan Dodge, an expert in management and leadership in restaurant operations, will help you understand how passion, enthusiasm, positivity and focus all help you maintain a competitive edge and grow profits.
“Sodium and the Healthy Plate” offers perspective on the challenges and opportunities related to the issue of sodium. Sheila Cohn Weiss, director of nutrition policy for NRA, moderates this expert panel.
IWSB: Focus on Bar Business
If you're looking for beverage insights, consider registering for the second International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (IWSB), which runs concurrently with the NRA Show on May 17-18. IWSB is the restaurant and hospitality industry's only forum focused exclusively on operator beverage alcohol-related needs. The show teams exhibits with its own targeted education sessions covering everything form signature cocktails and alcohol-food pairings to strategies for building bar program profitability, responsible service and innovative marketing and promotions.
Registration for IWSB is separate from the NRA Show (see box on p. 38); anyone registered for IWSB can get into the NRA Show, but the reverse is not true.
Not surprisingly, many of the special events focus on food. Each day a handful of renowned chefs and restaurateurs will be on hand to sign their latest books at the NRA Show Bookstore. The Culinary Scene area this year will focus on proteins as a critical success factor in foodservice. Butchers and chefs will showcase the use of new or lower-priced fabrications and culinary ideas for beef, pork and lamb. And the winner of the Association's Hot Chef Challenge on YouTube will perform a cooking demonstration. Tuesday, May 19, is Chef Day, celebrating the culinary artists of the restaurant industry. All chefs in attendance are encouraged to wear their chef's coats. It's a chance to network with top chefs from around the world, view cooking demos and find the latest trends in food, beverages, ingredients, equipment and food safety techniques.
Mainstays during the show include Saturday morning's Restaurant Executive Breakfast, which brings together chain, multiconcept and hotel industry leaders; the International Reception for guests from overseas, held Saturday evening; Saturday's Hennessy/Hill Awards Breakfast, honoring the achievements of military foodservice facilities; and the day-long Salute to Excellence, a celebration of education in foodservice. The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association Gold & Silver Plate Celebration on Monday will honor nine outstanding individuals.
The Skinny on NRA 2009
What: National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (IWSB)
Where: McCormick Place, Chicago
When: Saturday, May 16-Tuesday, May 20; IWSB is May 17-18 only
Exhibit floor hours: 9:30-5:00
Who: Exhibitors and attendees from all foodservice and hospitality categories
Cost: NRA Show is $80; free for NRA members; IWSB registration is $55 for members, $135 for nonmembers, and includes NRA Show admission
Contact: www.restaurant.org/show; 312-853-2525
Today's Special: Targeted Pavilions
Kitchen Innovations Pavilion: highlights cutting-edge kitchen equipment and showcases the 2009 Kitchen Innovations Award recipients in live, hands-on demos.
Organic & Natural Pavilion: features companies offering natural and certified organic food and beverage products.
International Cuisine Pavilion: booths here showcase food and beverage products from around the world.
Technology Pavilion: Here you'll find cutting-edge technology solutions, demonstrations, technology-focused education sessions and exhibitors focusing on wireless technology, inventory control, customer education sessions and more.
Franchise Pavilion: Top chain restaurants and finance companies offer advice and opportunities.
EDGE Pavilion: Design and décor-related products and services, including furniture, graphics, textiles, lighting, fixtures and flooring.