When most people think of the word restaurant, they think of food. A different perspective is placed in minds at the 91st Annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. From May 22-25, thousands from all over the world had a reservation for success by attending the show at McCormick Place in Chicago.
The actual show floor featured food, beverages, equipment, and appliances from all over the world. All of these tools are necessary to run a successful business and visitors were able to experience this all under one roof in the North and South Hall of McCormick Place. To assist in networking and putting everything together, special pavilions, education sessions, culinary showcases, ask the design experts, celebrity book signings and much more were at the taste buds for everyone to enjoy!
An exclusive breakfast was offered to qualified NRA Show 2010 attendees, which was held May 22nd from 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. The breakfast focused on identifying and developing innovative new restaurant revenue streams to engage guests outside of the dining room. The event was moderated by Peter Romeo, blogger-inchief, RestaurantRealityCheck.com. Panelists included Susan Shields, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Jamba Juice Company; Scott Baitinger, operator & co-owner, Street-za Pizza and John Inserra, senior vice president of restaurant operations, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
Another highlight which was new to the show this year and never been done before was the Foodie Flash Mob Dance. At 10:30 on May 25th, participants performed the routine in conjunction with the song “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga. Choreographer Christina Chen taught this easy to learn dance about an hour prior to performance to those that wanted to participate.
On the show room floor, several new additions were added to the pavilions this year. The environment is a very precious gift, and the Conserve Solutions Center offered many options to help promote a “greener” business. One attendee of the show said, “In the world today, this is a very important factor in not only saving our world, but also cutting costs to run our businesses. With the economy today, it is important to know everything that we can do to maintain our business”.
Being “green” was also a part of the new Smart Design area. This area showed buyers different options that could be used to start or even upgrade their business.
The World Culinary Showcase was a new pavilion that was very popular. This area was free to attend and attracted many to enjoy culinary demonstrations by some of the top chefs of the world. Everyone who visited this booth also had the chance to scan their badge to sign up for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to the Hollywood movie premiere of “Eat, Pray, Love” which stars Julia Roberts.
Top chefs in the World Culinary Showcase included Julio Lazzarini, Rob Levitt, Stephanie Izard and Rick Bayless. When Bayless, known for his authentic Mexican cuisine was asked when he gained an interest, he said “I went to Mexico at age 14 and fell in love, and I’m still in love”. From the turnout, Bayless has many that also have a love for his world famous cooking.
The Food Truck Stop was a productive place to stop for those that are looking to get into the mobile market of food. This area was very crowded and had exhibitors that included companies offering everything to begin a mobile truck company. Attendees were able to go on a walking tour through one of the trucks to see what a working one looked like inside.
Technology is very important in the fast-paced world that we live in. The Technology Pavilion not only had demonstrations and education sessions, but also had exhibits showing the newest and up-to-date systems as well a charging station to rest your feet for awhile and enjoy a complimentary coffee.
Many awards were given out in the Kitchen Innovations Pavilion, which was an area to see live demonstrations of the newest foodservice equipment. Every product in this pavilion was judged by an expert panel. One of the Kitchen Innovations Award Winners was The Ionator EXP. This power cleaner cleans without chemicals by converting tap water into ionized water – a powerful dirt-removing agent. This product is so amazing that it kills more than 99.9% of harmful germs. Bill Nye The Science Guy was on site May 24th, to explain the product and answer questions.
At least 2 days were necessary to take in all that NRA had to offer. There was really no need to leave to go get lunch, since food was provided by many of the exhibitors. It is hard to believe if any single person left the show hungry. Bread, cheese, sandwiches, pizza, seafood, desserts teas and beverages were only some of the varieties offered to attendees.
One popular booth at the show was Ferrero USA. Nutella, a popular hazelnut spread, was drizzed over banana filled crepes. These tasteful treats barely touched the table before being scooped up to taste by attendees. Debra MacDonald, of Ferrero USA, said that the booth was “the feel good booth of the show” because everyone left it feeling good after their yummy sample.
As we all know, the Blackhawks are doing quite well. Monday afternoon was a very important game in which the Blackhawks won the series to head into the Stanley Cup Finals. Anheuser-Busch, Inc was a packed booth, featuring tables, large flat screen tv’s, and of course samples of beer. A few seconds following the Hawks win, one representative of the booth yelled out, “drinks are on us everyone”. Of course they were complimentary to begin with, but this brought the crowd even louder in their cheer for the success of the Chicago Blackhawks and free samples.
What better to go with food than a nice beverage. The International Wine, Spirits and Beer Event was also held in the Grand Ballroom on the 23-24th of May. With a selection of around 50 different vendors, there was a beverage for any person wanting to unwind a little. Some of the featured exhibitors included Sapporo USA; the Boston Beer Company; and Diageo whose portfolio includes Jose Cuervo, Captain Morgan, Smirnoff Vodka, Guinness and many more. Education Classes were offered through the two days as well as a Menu Pairings Program.
NRA 2010 was a huge success and it seems as though there will be some new and fun concepts, foods and ideas in foodservice industry. If you area a part of the professional foodservice industry, keep your eyes open for information on the 92nd Annual Nation Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and the International Wine, Spirits and Beer Event; you won’t want to miss this!
For more information, please visit www.restaurant.org/show