Great British Beer Festival 2019: where tradition meets a progressive future

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The focus for Great British Beer Festival 2019 is not just on the exceptional ale, but on creating a more inclusive and supportive landscape for consumers, says CAMRA's Katie Wiles

The Great British Beer Festival 2019 (GBBF) will see more than 40,000 people hit Olympia London between 6-11 August to sample from 1,000 beers, ciders, perries, gins and wines. Michael Jones met with Katie Wiles, senior communications manager of organisers CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), to discuss the size, and scale of the show, what’s new this year and why the Festival is still so relevant:


What’s new or different about the Festival this year?

Katie Wiles: We’ve got a few different initiatives. We’ve been running for 42 years, so obviously things have changed a lot since the first GBBF.

This year we have an entire section dedicated to craft beer, served from key keg containers, rather than from real ale hand pulls. It’s a different kind of dispense. You get many different flavours and it attracts a different kind of audience. So rather than the traditional real ale stalwarts, we’re looking to get to younger drinkers who might go to other craft beer festivals by having this section dedicated to key keg.

That’s been pioneered by four breweries: Tiny Rebel (pictured), Magic Rock, Siren and The Wild Beer Co. They use small keg containers and we are working with a partner delivering recyclable materials for the kegs.

Cask is usually much more environmentally friendly than keg, because you can reuse a cask, but now our partners can provides recyclable kegs for festivals, which means were keeps our environmental impact down.

What other initiatives are happening at the Festival?

Another key thing for this year is our new Discovery Zone. Across CAMRA we’re trying to help educate people about their favourite drink and get more members to learn about beer and real ale, how it is made and dispensed and the ingredients that go into it. So, we’ve got an entire section where people can do comparative tastings between cask and keg beer, they can touch the different hops, smell the barley and meet brewers to discuss the brewing process. It’s about bringing that educational element to members.

Another key extension is we’re trying to make our festival accessible to everybody, so we’ve got more vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free beers than ever before. We’ve got non-alcoholic beers and ciders and we have also tripled our wine and gin offering to try and make sure this is the destination for everyone who enjoys a great drink.

What are you most excited about seeing at this year’s show?

The key keg area is incredibly exciting. I was down there earlier and I tried a coconut porter, which was delicious. It brings a whole new dimension in terms of flavours and styles. Cask is always going to be king, because making it is an art – using a living substance, a live product – and you don’t necessarily get that with all types of dispense, but having that flexibility to bring in different types of beer from different dispense methods, means you get a bigger showcase and more options available.

How indicative is this show of wider beer trends? Is it a bellwether for what the UK drinks, or will be drinking?

I think so. The beer industry in general is moving towards trying to be a lot more inclusive and open to everybody. We don’t want this to just be reserved for ‘geeky beer lads’, where you have a to have a high level of knowledge to order something at the bar.

We want to try to educate people about different flavours and styles so anybody, especially female drinkers, can go up to the bar and feel totally comfortable ordering a speciality beer without having to default to red, white or rosé wine.

We’ve made a huge effort this year to ban all sexist beer at the festival – anything with sexist or discriminatory images or logos. That’s incredibly alienating and something that the beer industry has been quite slow to react to. It needs to be challenged.

The wind is turning towards a more inclusive and open beer landscape. At the moment, 17% of beer drinkers are women, but they are 50% of the population. That’s a huge missed opportunity. We tend to find that the beer industry has been ‘male, pale and stale’ and we need to change that.

How much growth is there in gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian beers?

There are at least 30-40 vegetarian or vegan beers here at GBBF, which is a large increase. It’s growing massively. Non-alcohol is getting a big investment and a lot of pubs are starting to stock options that aren’t just fruit juices. That’s so helpful for designated drivers or for people that can’t or don’t want to drink alcohol. There is a lot more interest in and more attention being paid to gluten intolerance, or those who are vegan or vegetarian. The industry is certainly adapting to that to make sure everyone’s got more choice.

What role does CAMRA play?

CAMRA represents consumers, not the brewers or publicans. We’re an organisation that supports beer drinkers and pub goers. So, whatever they think is important, we have to represent.

It is a membership organisation, made up of 200,000 volunteers – and they are the ones that set our agenda and our campaigns for the year. One of the key things we focus on is keeping beer affordable and pubs open.

Why does this show matter? Why is it still relevant?

This is the place to be for anyone that loves beer. One thing that makes GBBF so special is because it’s run by volunteers and is completely not for profit. People serving behind the bars here are using up their annual leave to pull pints and talk to people about beer, because they love it.

We don’t make massive amounts of money for CAMRA doing this. Anything we do make goes into our campaigning and supporting the industry – keeping beer prices down or stopping British pubs from closing. It’s really recognised by brewers and publicans because of the causes we work towards – this is the flagship, visible, in your face example of that. With the interest and publicity we raise through GBBF, that impact lasts all year long.

GBBF is very historic. 42 years ago when it first started, this was the only place you could get beers from outside of your local pub. You couldn’t get beers from all over the country. The landscape has massively changed, but we still have a very important role to support the sector and to help campaign for pub goers.

There are 14 pub closures every week in the UK. People are losing their sense of community and it’s having a social impact. We did some research recently with Oxford University that found that people that have a local pub are happier, more trusting of others and feel more connected to the local community. That can’t be overstated: pubs can combat social isolation and loneliness.

What has been your favourite beer here at the Festival?

There is a coconut porter here that is delicious. Titanic Brewery’s Plum Porter is really nice. My personal preference is for Silkie Stout by Loch Lomond, while Tiny Rebel’s Cwtch, which means ‘cuddle’ in Welsh, is a fantastic, hoppy beer.

Michael Jones

The show in Sydney this September will see FCSI’s Asia Pacific Division play a leading role, reports Heather Cant

If the numbers from the 2017 event are anything to go by, with nearly 24,000 visitors and 1,000 exhibitors from 60 countries, this year’s Fine Food Australia show is set to be a huge success.

Fine Food Australia eagerly prepares for its annual show in Sydney, taking place on 9 – 12 September 2019. The event presents an exciting opportunity for exhibitors, which will include FCSI members, offering the chance to launch new products, raise profiles and inspire and educate their market.

FCSI at the forefront

In the forthcoming Q3 print edition of Foodservice Consultant magazine, chair of FCSI’s Asia Pacific Division (ADP), Mario Sequeira FCSI, explains the important role that the Society will play at this year’s show. This includes hosting an industry networking breakfast and FCSI Professional members judging the Innovative Equipment Awards.

The Asia Pacific Division has already accomplished a major contribution to the show through its role in designing the new Demo Kitchen, which is set to inspire food industry enthusiasts with masterclasses, demonstrations and introductions to brand-new equipment.

The event attracts more end-users and trade buyers from the foodservice, hospitality, retail and bakery industries than any show in Australia. With such a diverse mix of attendees and exhibitors, it provides a plethora of opportunities to gain food for thought.

Silver Chef of the 2018 show, Ken Burgin, was keen to highlight that “Fine Food has a very strong educational commitment as well”.

This year, the Talking Trends programme has a line-up of experts sharing their knowledge and insight into topics including changing consumer demands, food industry trends and innovative emerging brands.

This presents a valuable opportunity for exhibitors looking to raise their profiles and spread news of their products. Leisa Sams, winner of 2018’s Best New Australian-Made product, Hum Honey, exclaimed that attending the event was “one of the best things we’ve done. The engagement and interest has been really worthwhile.”

Ask the experts

Minnie Constan, the show’s event director, says: “We strive to make every year better, keep ahead of trends and cover every aspect of the food industry, which is why over 23,000 industry professionals flock to the event from all over Australia and around the world.”

When asked what she is most looking forward to, Constan reels off an exciting list, including FCSI Innovation Kitchens. This new interactive feature at Fine Food 2019, in which ingredients are cooked in two immersive kitchens, aims to demonstrate the best way to use ingredients within different business constraints. Constan describes the benefits that this provides as “an opportunity to discuss your individual needs directly with producers.”

Also on Constan’s list is the Women in Foodservice charity event, which is returning to Fine Food for its sixth year. A panel of industry icons, including TV chef and author, Janelle Bloom, and executive chef at Nomad, Jacqui Challinor, will candidly discuss what it means to be a successful woman in the food industry over a gourmet brunch.

When asked what FCSI members can expect from this year’s show, Constan highlights the opportunity to view first-hand equipment in action, compare multiple products and ask experts to specify the most efficient and up-to-date machinery on the market. Not only that, but Sequeira has chosen the show as the ideal location to hold the FCSI ADP annual general meeting.

Sharing his thoughts about the foodservice industry, Sequeira says that: “Sustainability is one of the key factors for consumers, especially Millennials. Now is the time for us to grow our alliances with our strength in diversity.” It seems that the Fine Food show is the perfect place to do so.

Heather Cant

Pictures: Tim Grey; Fine Food Australia


Boasting over 350 cutting-edge suppliers and 250 inspirational seminars, the Expo returns to ExCeL, London, on 19-20 November 2019

The Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo makes its much-anticipated return to the ExCeL London on the 19-20 November, forming the ultimate event to help you boost your profits, build your brand and grow your business for an unprecedented 7th year running.

Having secured your free ticket to the 2019 event, you can expect to immerse yourself in the ultimate marketplace for takeaway and restaurants owners, courtesy of this year’s incredible line-up boasting over 350 cutting-edge suppliers, 250 inspirational seminars, panel debates, countless networking opportunities, the illustrious Innovation Awards, and much more!

Ideas and inspiration

All under one roof, you’ll be able to try, touch and test all the latest products, solutions and systems from across the globe that are driving innovation, and hear industry experts from the biggest brands on the planet divulge their very own secrets to success, enabling you to return to your business armed with ambition and brimming with ideas and inspiration.

Better still, this year’s instalment runs alongside 5 other industry-leading events; collectively forming #FES19, THE biggest business growth event for the world of food and drink.

Further details:

So what are you waiting for? Register for your free ticket now via

For exhibiting and sponsorship enquiries:

James Williams, managing director

+44 (0) 117 990 2850

For marketing and press enquiries:

Lizzie Duffin, marketing manager

+44 (0) 117 990 2096

The awards, supported by Electrolux Professional, will celebrate game-changing new products for commercial foodservice, beverage and laundry from start-ups

The panel of consultant judges for FCSI’s 2019 Start Me Up Innovation Awards, supported by Electrolux Professional, has been confirmed.

The FCSI Professional member judges on the Awards panel are: Ken Schwartz FCSI of SSA Restaurant Design + Foodservice Consulting in Tampa, Florida; Joseph Schumaker FCSI of SCG FoodSpace in San Jose, California; Bettina von Massenbach FCSI of Oyster Hospitality Management in Munich, Germany; and Thomas Mertens FCSI of S.A:M GmbH in Kolbermoor, Germany (pictured).

The consultant judges will be joined on the panel by an executive from Electrolux Professional, to be announced at a later date.

Game-changing impact

The inaugural 2019 Start Me Up Innovation Awards were established by FCSI and Electrolux Professional in order to give a platform to new products, services, systems or concepts from global start-up businesses with the potential to have a significant, game-changing impact on the commercial foodservice, beverage and laundry industry.

The awards, launched on 16 May 2019, are open to any independent, start-up business that has launched a new product or concept for the sector since 1 January 2018. It is free of charge to enter the awards and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the application form on the FCSI website, here. The final date of entry for the awards is 1 September 2019.

The judges will decide on a shortlist of entrants based on how innovative and impactful they believe the entries could be for the industry.  The shortlisted products or concepts selected for the final stage will have the chance to make a Dragons’ Den/Shark Tank-style ‘pitch’ to the judges in person at an event at the FCSI booth on Sunday 20 October at the HostMilano 2019 show in Milan, Italy. Representatives from each start-up business will get 10 minutes to demonstrate to judges why their entry is worthy of first place. The winner will be announced at the FCSI show party later that evening.

A catalyst for creativity

“Innovation is essential for creating solutions to overcome new or existing challenges. It is vital in the development of efficiency at all levels, which impact the operators’ bottom line as well as the guest experience,” says Schwartz.

“These awards and the recognition they provide are a catalyst to entice people to be creative and to think outside of the norm. Start-ups typically take on a new approach.”

That view is echoed by Schumaker. “We must push innovation forward and recognise those that are driving the industry forward. Start-ups are lean, agile and bring new ideas and perspective to an old and slow-moving industry,” he says.

For Schumaker, innovation is essential to this industry, because consumers “demand innovation in food”. He believes that, because the habits of those consumers are changing alongside seismic population growth, the imperative to embrace change has never been greater. “Our post WWII food system is fractured and crumbling. There will be more than 10 billion people on this planet in our lifetime. Innovation is the only way to survive,” he says.

“Start-ups innovate, speculate and bring new life as well as passion to what is a very traditional and big business-based industry. They can innovate faster, cheaper and with better results.”

According to Mertens, the benefits to embracing innovation in this sector are abundantly clear. “By looking beyond the rim of our plate we shed light on all categories from every perspective. We develop, together with other experts from various industries, an understanding for a new gastronomically oriented view of our market. In this way we become a sustainable part of our community and support collaborative work on an international scale,” he says.

“We have to look much more at what new people can bring to our concepts and plans. If we do this from the first impulse of innovation, we have the chance to realise great things.”

For Mertens, start-ups are an essential lifeblood to the foodservice industry, because their pioneering approach can turn ideas into reality and expand our world view. “Confucius said: ‘Explain to me and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Let me do it, and I understand.’ This is more pertinent than ever for our industry – to understand ideas and then transform them. Start-ups explain our world to us and broaden our understanding.”

Further details:

The 2019 Start Me Up Innovation awards can be entered here.

For more information on the awards please contact

Keep up to date with the awards campaign on the FCSI website and via FCSI and Electrolux Professional’s social media channels by following the hashtag #SMUAwards19.

Michael Jones

FCSI Professional members came together at this week’s Commercial Kitchen show in Birmingham, UK, to discuss the future of foodservice and hospitality

Hosted by Michael Jones, editorial director of FCSI’s Foodservice Consultant magazine, a panel of FCSI UK & Ireland and Europe, Africa and Middle East (EAME) Professional members took to the stage at the Commercial Kitchen show in Birmingham, UK, on Wednesday 5 June for a special panel discussion on the future of the sector.

The panel talked about a broad range of issues, including the changing demographic among operators and consumers, navigating a turbulent economic and political climate, attracting a younger workforce and the increasing focus on sustainability and drive to reduce food waste.

The consultants taking part were Matthew Merritt-Harrison FCSI, managing partner of Merritt-Harrison Catering Consultancy and the chair of FCSI UK & Ireland; associate FCSI member Naomi Duncan, director of Phoenix Consultancy Services and chief executive of Chefs in Schools; Liz Rose FCSI, principal consultant, A&E Catering Design; and senior FCSI associate Lugano Kapembwa, managing director of Lukap Consulting. Remko van der Graaff FCSI, the chair of FCSI EAME added a European perspective to the conversation.

The future means people

The theme of the day was the future of foodservice, something that naturally brought the conversation the topic of people. “When I talk about the future, I think about the people working in foodservice,” said van der Graaff. “FCSI’s purpose is to encourage young people to join the Society because they are the future and we must provide an attractive environment to work in.”

Duncan agreed, pointing to the challenge of attracting more young people to foodservice and hospitality. “We need to deal with the challenge of getting young people into the sector. Young people today are not interested in joining foodservice. How can we understand these people if we don’t have younger people working with the operators?” she asked.

In the Netherlands, van der Graaff’s consultancy AAG, has actively engaged with hospitality schools in the last five years. “We offer lessons in food consulting and hospitality so we get closer to the area of people who are in fourth or fifth year of school so they learn about the industry and the society,” he said. “We really want to help by offering advice and tips and that is when they get interested in what we do and how they can get into it. This is not about advertising but engaging and communicating.”

Left unaddressed, the contentious topic of the UK’s departure from the European Union, could easily become the elephant in the room – so the panel tackled it head on. It is clear that Brexit certainly now forms part of the way the consultants plan their business. Merritt-Harrison was downbeat in his assessment, concerned that leaving a big trading partner would make life harder. While agreeing with this sentiment, Duncan said it would inevitably bring opportunities for British producers to grasp. “I think we will get a really good idea of just how much lamb Britain produces once it gets harder to export to other markets,” she said.

Technology at the centre

Brexit notwithstanding, people remains among the top priorities in foodservice, but keeping the pipeline going is by no means the only thing that consultants have to keep a close eye on. Take technology for starters – while it can provide some welcome relief in the areas where operators struggle to recruit, the worry that technology and robotics leave people out of a job remains. But, said Rose, technology is something that operators and consultants have to make the most of.

“In terms of foodservice design we need to be more aware of tech and connectivity in the commercial kitchen setup because it will be the centre of the hub and it will be how we measure success,” she said.

Consultants have to play a part in educating where the new technology is concerned, she added. “This is about infrastructure because we need to make sure this tech is fitted in the kitchen when it is planned. This stuff is hard to add late on and it means that the consultant needs to be involved early on in the process so they can help plan in.”

But, as Merritt-Harrison reminded the audience, hospitality is about people and, he said, no amount of automation can replace that human interaction. “Yes, there is a place for tech but service delivery is about well-trained people delivering a service and interacting. Human interface is important because we as people need that and that is hospitality,” he said.

To what extent automation reaches into hospitality is up to us, said Duncan. “There is a lot to be done around education to make sure automation is not taking over,” she said. “There is a generation of children who are not being taught about food and foodservice in school and they are not interested in joining the sector. We need to address the culture of food we have in the country.”

Getting a grip on food waste

As priority topics go, sustainability and the focus on reducing food waste comes hot on the heels of technology and automation. Kapembwa, an expert on the circular economy has helped businesses improve sustainability. In foodservice, he said, there are companies doing exceptionally well on sustainability and then there are all the rest – there’s not much in the way of a middle ground.

“I have been impressed with the fact that in foodservice there are more voluntary agreements than in other sectors; it tells me that there is more awareness and a willingness to solve the problems and cooperate,” he said. “Some people are doing it really well and they are shouting about it – and then there is everyone else.”

Merritt-Harrison said much remains to be solved in foodservice, bringing up the contentious issue of breakfast buffets. “You are still seeing buffets in hotels where there is so much food waste – you should be cooking to order today.”

But this, argued Kapembwa, is a high-level business challenge. “There are buffets where food is wasted a lot but that is consequence of the business approach and management – no one is educating the customer and actually telling them why there is less food. It is part of addressing the entire system,” he explained.

Operators who don’t completely avoid producing food waste at least have ways of processing it nowadays. Again, that comes with its own challenges, said Rose. “Space is a real issue, if you are going to have to introduce all these systems you need to have the ability to store things properly and split bins and so on. If you are processing waste then you need to have equipment to process that waste. And that takes up space,” she said.

A Society to connect and collaborate

At the core of all these challenges – and opportunities – FCSI exists to unite consultants from across the foodservice spectrum, providing a forum for learning, networking and collaborating. “We are committed to continued professional development and standards,” said Merritt-Harrison.

At a time of considerable upheaval in the wider foodservice sector, it matters to count on such a group of fellow professionals, as Duncan asserted. “I think the future of consulting is strong. As far as the future of foodservice is concerned, we are facing some challenges that will mean that we have to be smarter and come up with new solutions,” she said.

“Anyone who is not already a member of FCSI I would encourage them to join.”

Tina Nielsen

For a fifth year in a row the show had record exhibitor space sales and welcomed 65,526 attendees

It may have carried a tagline of ‘100 years of wow’ and had the echoes of a illustrious history to live up to, but the centennial edition of the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show did not disappoint.

Held at McCormick Place in Chicago between 18-21 May, the show was a riot of color, fun and exuberance. It also did a good job of balancing a respectful nod to the show’s rich past with a keen focus on the future. Cutting-edge new products and entrepreneurship were on display at the Startup Alley, located in the show’s TECH Pavilion, where 14 start-ups showcased digital innovation new to the market. Perhaps one of the new products may even be potential winner in FCSI’s new Start Me Innovation Awards, which will culminate later this year.

Record-breaking numbers

For the fifth year running the show could boast record exhibitor space sales at 723,069 sq ft, while it welcomed 42,557 restaurant operators, retail foodservice professionals, equipment dealers, food distributors – a 3% rise compared to 2018. Not bad for a NAFEM year. Total registration, including exhibitors, also exceeded last year’s total at 65,526. Over 100 countries and all 50 states were represented while 92 of the country’s top 100 restaurant brands were also in attendance.

“The centennial Show was a success by every measure,” said Mary Pat Heftman, president, Restaurant Show Group at Winsight, which produces the show. “Besides the record exhibit sales and strong attendance growth, the energy on the show floor was palpable. Education sessions were standing room only, there were delicious new foods at every turn, and once again, ingenuity was on display everywhere you looked.”

A number of new initiatives for the show, from the Sysco Culinary Experience Center, to the Digital Media Slam, the new Women Leaders Panel led by the James Beard Foundation, the new Technomic ‘Ask the Experts’ sessions and a new butchery demonstration, gave the show a fresh and reinvigorated feel.

“This is an important show for the continued growth of our business,” said Scott Redler, Co-Founder and COO of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and co-chair of the 2019 Show. “Not only do we get the continuing educational opportunities and exposure to products and services to help us grow, it’s a time for our team to get away from the day-to-day and think about how to further our success. I was a co-chair because I believe in the value and power of this show.”

Signature session

A highlight of this year’s show, as it is every year, was the annual ‘Signature’ session, which featured senior leaders from various industry segments. Moderated by Dawn Sweeney, president & CEO of the National Restaurant Association, the panel focused on the future of dining and included Chris Gheysens, president & CEO, Wawa; Tim McEnery, founder & CEO, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants; Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO & president, Hy-vee, and John Cywinski, president, Applebee’s Bar & Grill.

Elsewhere at the show, saw the 100th Anniversary Celebration and Star of the Bar Finals competition as well as the 2019 Star of the Bar finals event.

On the show’s first day, Heftman announced that the 2020 show will include a fourth exhibit hall. “The demand this year exceeded the available exhibit space. In order to accommodate the many exhibitors that want to join the show, and allow for booth expansion among current exhibitors, we simply need more space,” she said. “Adding more space and exhibitors also lets us bring to operators, more innovations and game-changing ideas than ever before.”

Elsewhere in Chicago

During the show, FCSI’s Upper Midwest chapter held its annual cocktail reception on Sunday 19 May at the IO Urban Roofscape Lounge at The Godfrey Hotel, Chicago, while the Foodservice Consultant team also recorded a number of podcast interviews with FCSI Professional members for its forthcoming ‘FCSI’s Dynamic Design’ series, to be hosted from June 2019 on the website. Stay tuned for more information on those.

Michael Jones

The awards will showcase new products or concepts for commercial foodservice, beverage and laundry from independent start-up companies

FCSI and leading provider of hospitality solutions Electrolux Professional have teamed up to create a new awards campaign that celebrates innovative ideas from start-up businesses.

The inaugural 2019 Start Me Up Innovation Awards will give a platform to new products, services, systems or concepts from global start-up businesses with the potential to have a significant, game-changing impact on the commercial foodservice, beverage and laundry industry.

Innovative and impactful

The awards, launched on Thursday 16 May 2019, are open to any independent, start-up business that has launched a new product or concept for the sector since 1 January 2018. It is free of charge to enter the awards and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the application form on the FCSI website, here: The final date of entry for the awards is 1 September 2019.

A panel of FCSI Professional Members and executives from Electrolux Professional will judge the award entries prior to HostMilano 2019. The judges will then decide from a shortlist of entrants based on how innovative and impactful they believe the entries could be for the industry.

The shortlisted products or concepts selected for the final stage will have the chance to make a Dragons’ Den/Shark Tank-style ‘pitch’ to the judging panel in person at an event at the FCSI booth on Sunday 20 October at the HostMilano 2019 show in Milan, Italy.

Representatives from each start-up business will get 10 minutes to demonstrate to judges why their entry is worthy of first place. The winner will be announced at the FCSI show party later that evening.

Championing innovation

The winner of the Start Me Up Innovation Awards will receive extensive media coverage across the FCSI website and its magazine, Foodservice Consultant, as well as across Electrolux Professional channels and additional industry media outlets. They will also receive exclusive access to leading FCSI Professional Member consultants and executives from Electrolux Professional.

“These awards represent what FCSI stands for and truly believes in: that innovation is the lifeblood of the foodservice industry,” says Nick Vaccaro, executive administrator of FCSI Worldwide. “We look forward to seeing some great entries from a host of exciting start-up companies.”

This is echoed by Alberto Zanata, CEO of Electrolux Professional: “We are delighted to be supporting these wonderful awards, which celebrate innovation at the heart of the industry. This is an exciting opportunity for any start-up business serving the commercial foodservice, beverage and laundry industry around the world.”

Further details:

2019 Start Me Innovation Awards entry:

For more information on the awards please contact

Keep up to date with the awards campaign on the FCSI website and via FCSI and Electrolux Professional’s social media channels by following the hashtag #SMUAwards19.

The exhibitors will aim to unlock huge potential through digital innovation in foodservice at the Show's 100th Anniversary Event

The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show has announce the 14 Startup Alley exhibitors that will be in attendance at the 2019 Show, to be held May 18-21 in Chicago at McCormick Place. These ground-breaking companies will display their high-tech ideas for enhancing restaurant operations and increasing revenue, in addition to giving buyers a sneak peek at the future of foodservice.

Restaurateurs, restaurant guests, and investors all agree—technology that improves the dining experience remains at the forefront of the foodservice industry. Since 2015, the National Restaurant Association Show has showcased the best restaurant technology startups in Startup Alley, recognizing the critical role played by new, innovative players in the arena.

“Innovation in the foodservice industry seems to be growing exponentially. I’m impressed year after year by the ideas and creativity of our Startup Alley exhibitors,” said Mary Pat Heftman, president, Restaurant Show Group.

“Many of the products that started in the Show’s Startup Alley went on to find great success in the marketplace. If restaurant operators want to see what’s next in foodservice, they must visit Startup Alley.

“The startups featured in Startup Alley offer Show attendees the opportunity to better understand how to handle the latest challenges facing foodservice and connect with forward-thinking products that will help their business stay ahead of the curve,” said Mike Hickey, executive vice president and president, Ecolab Inc. and 2019 co-chair of the National Restaurant Association Show.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the 14 startups featured at the centennial Show.

Visiting the companies featured in Startup Alley, located at the TECH Pavilion, during the Show will allow restaurant operations to discover new ways to unlock huge potential and get a sneak peek at the foodservice industry of the future.

The 14 startups include:


Genio is a productivity app that makes employee scheduling, communication, attendance, location and task management a breeze. Their app is geared toward companies where employees typically work in shifts such as baristas, bartenders, servers and chefs. Genio helps hospitality companies that want to improve their employee experience, productivity, costs savings, and internal communication. Learn more. 


Say2eat helps multi-unit restaurant chains engage, transact and re-target digital diners to scale. Say2eat is a one stop shop – ensuring that consumers are never more than 30 seconds away from their next order. Their product increases online sales, restores lost revenue and abandoned carts, deliver ownership of all customer data to the restaurant brand and much more. Learn more. 

Galley Solutions:

Galley takes an entirely different approach to building kitchen software. They focus on the core data of a food operation: recipes and ingredients, then build beautiful and easy-to-use tools to empower chefs, not accountants, to provide and maintain the data that matters most. Their features include inventory management, production efficiency, errors and omissions, menu optimization, waste migration and system-generated suggestions based on par levels, historical consumption patterns, sales forecasts, and on-hand inventory levels. Learn more.

Hospitality Playbooks:

Hospitality Playbooks offers a system and a framework to help restaurant owners and managers develop their team to deliver consistent dining experiences. They provide tools, training, and support to help managers hire, train, and retain restaurant team talent. Their tools are designed to help improve the hiring and retention rates, manager training and coaching skills, team performance and guest experience. Learn more.


Jetson solves the inherent design problems of current voice assistants when it comes to conversational commerce. They offer a more intelligent “multi-step” voice AI that can search and transact complex menus through full conversation. With their platform, customers can order anything by simply speaking to a mobile device, kiosk, or smart speaker / IoT device. Learn more. 


Locl was built so businesses get the most from maps platforms, especially those who rely on foot-traffic, such as restaurants and bars. Maps performance metrics closely correlate to actual revenue. Locl’s hospitality clients get aggregated data and insights on their customers in an easy-to-understand way. Learn more.

AmbiFi, Inc.

Build procedures as you go, with AmbiFi’s mobile app and authoring capabilities. Never has it been easier to build and distribute knowledge. Take pictures and record videos to enhance the experience, making knowledge transfers and many hours dedicated to training a thing of the past. AmbiFi also allows on-the-job performance support where employees can receive instant help for preparing menu items. Learn more.

Tablee Co:

Tablee provides hardware and software combination solution to the hospitality space, primarily restaurants, bars, hotels and country clubs. Their services include a small on-table device that guests can use to request service. Tablee provides Smart Watches to servers to receive guest request notifications. Tablee’s managers and site owners will also receive access to Tablee’s Management Center, where they can re-assign specific tables to servers remotely and instantly, while also tracking and trending data real-time and over time to optimize site performance. Learn more. 

PathSpot Technologies, Inc.:

PathSpot helps restauranteurs protect their business and customers from foodborne illness through their hand scanner that instantly detects invisible signs of bacteria and viruses including Norovirus, E.coli, Listeria, Hepatitis A, and Salmonella. The PathSpot hand scanner gives food-handling team members real-time feedback on the effectiveness of handwashing. It also collects data that businesses can use to measure and improve handwashing compliance. Learn more. 

Synk Delivery:

Synk is a highly efficient software tool that networks local consumers for inexpensive and predictable delivery. It is highly automated and uses Stripe for payments, automated phone call reminders to restaurants, automatic text and e-mail status messages throughout the delivery process, a rewards program, a promotions program, data tracking algorithms, and the latest in e-commerce security features. Learn more. is a TV-based community billboard platform that ‘uberizes’ televisions in restaurants and bars. It allows restaurant operations to offer a variety of marketing initiatives on their televisions, including running their menu boards, promotions, accept advertising from other local businesses and more. The technology weaves neighborhood televisions into a network that can be used by local businesses as a communication tool. Since it’s primarily driven by location, it helps in targeting local residents in a way that’s more precise than social media, and lot cheaper than conventional billboards. Learn more.

Baller LLC:

Baller LLC is in the engagement industry as a web based platform designed to improve employee retention by building esteem, engagement, productivity, and customer service. Their tool provides awards and incentives strictly funded for by the restaurant or business entity. Their platform improves the individuals personal financial opportunity while reducing the industries turnover. Learn more.


Easilys is a one-stop solution dedicated to multi-site contract catering businesses. They support all types of sites including central kitchens, educational, medical-social, corporate catering, retail solutions and more in their aim to optimize procurement at a central level as well as daily operations at a site level. Easilys also offers an asset management solution as well as a connected scale to measure food waste. Learn more.


LISNR® has a goal of leveraging sound as a conduit for wide-scale connectivity everywhere. As the leading, global provider of data-over-audio (DoA) solutions, LISNR®’s proprietary technology is used across the connected world and powered over 100 million devices in 2018. Their technology has best-in-class performance metrics in reliability and data. Learn more. 

Octothorpe Plus LLC:

With Octothorpe Plus LLC’s mobile app plugin, customers can take restaurant branded selfies and share them on social media for an instant reward. When customers post selfies with a company’s product, this is the social proof or recommendation that other prospects crave. These customers become influencers in their network, recommending the restaurant showcased on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Learn more.

About the Show:

As the premier tradeshow for the global foodservice industry, the National Restaurant Association Show brings together more restaurant and hospitality buyers, and equipment manufacturers than any other industry event. To register, please visit For more information about the Startup Alley and this year’s selected participating companies, click here.

Tatiana Vieira Green

A stellar line-up of internationally acclaimed chefs will showcase their techniques at the Show's centennial event on 18–21 May in Chicago, US

To celebrate its centennial anniversary, The Restaurant Show will host at various stages across its show floor world-class celebrity chefs that will showcase their culinary expertise, industry experts that will demonstrate their techniques and internationally acclaimed mixologists that will present the magic behind their work.

Star power

One of the most anticipated demonstrations will occur on Saturday, May 18 at 3:30pm by the culinary team at English soccer team Manchester United, Anjula Devi and James Tagg. They will take the stage to showcase some of the unique contemporary dishes they create to offer at one of the largest football stadiums in the world. Anjula will be making an Indian thali, which will consist of delicious fresh local produce, chosen with sustainability in mind and which just happens to be plant-based and vegan.

Another attention-grabbing demonstration will be that of James Beard Award-winning chef Abe Conlon. Chef Conlon of The Fat Rice restaurant will discuss in-depth how he recreates Old World heritage recipes utilizing the techniques and technology of today (May 18 at 12:00pm).

In addition, James Beard Award-winning chef Zachary Engel will bring the magic of Israeli cuisine to the show floor on May 21 at 11am. But much more is in store with many other already-scheduled demonstrations planned for the 2019 Restaurant Show.

At the World Culinary Showcase live culinary meets star power. Attendees will watch their favorite chefs demonstrate their techniques and share their stories, plus, award-winning up-and-coming chefs demonstrate how they’re rethinking cuisine.

This year’s talent includes:

Gerry Garvin – Acclaimed chef, notable author, television host, James Beard nominee and philanthropist, Gerry Garvin is most widely known for his television series, Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin. He has worked as a chef in restaurants across the country and went on to hosting Road Trip with G Garvin on the Food Network Channel. Garvin is now seen as a judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games as well as Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as a special guest host. He is America’s most down-to-earth chef, and his claim to fame is showing everyday cooks how to keep it simple with a Southern twist.

Abra Berens – Berens is the chef at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan. She trained at Ballymaloe in County Cork, Ireland, and Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She strives to connect people with their food both through dinners and progressive food policy—helping to further a food system where farmers earn a living wage, protect our environment through agriculture, and waste as little food as possible.

Diana Dávila – Dávila is the chef and owner of Mi Tocaya Antojería in Chicago. Since opening in March of 2017, the restaurant has received numerous accolades including being named one of Bon Appetit Magazine’s Best New Restaurants 2017 (Top 50) and was a James Beard Semi Finalist for Best New Restaurant (2018). As a chef/owner she was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs (2018); Eater Chicago’s Chef of the Year (2017); Chicago Tribune’s Chef of the Year (2019) and was named a “Chef to Watch” by both Eater and Plate Magazine in 2017.

Zachary Engel – Engel is the executive chef and owner of Middle Eastern restaurant, Galit, which will debut in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in April 2019. Previously, Zach was the chef de cuisine at Shaya Restaurant in New Orleans, where he led a talented team to take home the 2016 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, a culminating triumph at the end of a year of many “Best New” accolades. In 2017, he followed with winning the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year.

Jason Hammel – Hammel is the chef of Lula Café in Chicago’s historic Logan Square and Marisol Restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Chef Hammel is the Jean Banchet 2018 Chef of the Year award and a James Beard Best Chef finalist. A twenty year farm-to-table institution, Lula Cafe has been recognized by Eater‘s “Essential 38” and the Michelin Guide. Hammel is also a co-founder of the food education group Pilot Light Chefs, which creates innovative culinary curriculum for Chicago Public Schools. Through his work in classrooms and kitchens, chef Hammel seeks to bring community, creativity, nourishment, and purpose back to the table.

Rick Bayless – Since 1987 Bayless has been changing the way America eats Mexican, with four award-winning restaurants in Chicago, two quick-service brands and a retail line of sauces, salsas, and more. He has won six James Beard Awards and his contributions to the community have garnered awards both in the United States and in Mexico.

Hari Pulapaka – Pulapaka is an award-winning chef and author with four James Beard Award semifinalist nods as Best Chef-South and multiple Food & Wine People’s Best Chef recognitions. His cuisine helped rate his restaurant, Cress Restaurant, as the top rated ZAGAT restaurant in Orlando in the inaugural 2013 guide. In 2016, Hari was recognized as a GRIST 50 fixer for his innovative and active work in the area of food waste reduction.

Chris Sayegh – Chris’ company, The Herbal Chef, is a pioneer in using cannabis-infused fine dining to elevate the perception of marijuana in mainstream media. Through dinners that include art, music, fine wine and top-notch ingredients, he simultaneously and effortlessly educates and entertains his audience. Sayegh produces gourmet edibles, THC-infused dinners, as well as catered and private dinners and is the subject of two television shows. Beyond this, The Herbal Chef has become the most well known cannabis and culinary entity in the world consulting with businesses and governments alike to make sure the future of on-site consumption is safe and enjoyable.

Kari Underly – Kari was honored by Provisioner Magazine as one of 25 Future Icons of the Meat and Poultry Industry. She’s the author of the James Beard nominated book, The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising. Kari was recently a judge on the popular TV show, Chopped. Her favorite role is that of an educator as she travels the country conducting meat training seminars and demonstrations for corporations and meat enthusiasts.

Andrew Zimmern – A four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer, and teacher, Zimmern is regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable in the food world. Andrew is the host of Bizarre Foods, Driven by Food, The Zimmern List, and Big Food Truck Tip, a contributor writer at Food & Wine, and through the James Beard foundation funds the Zimmern’s Second Chances Scholarship.

Abe Conlon – Chef Conlon’s bold and vibrant global cuisine is a reflection of his Azorean-Portuguese heritage and travels. Together with business partner Adrienne Lo, Abe opened Fat Rice in 2012 and two adjoining concepts, The Bakery at Fat Rice and The Ladies’ Room, in 2016. He is the co-author of The Adventures of Fat Rice and won the James Beard Foundation’s 2018 “Best Chef: Great Lakes Award”.

James Tagg – Scottish-born James Tagg’s globe-trotting 35-year career in the industry has seen him working through the kitchen brigade ranks, predominantly working within the contract catering sector with time spent in hotels in the UK, Australia and South Africa. James was appointed as executive chef at Manchester United in 2011, developing and innovating contemporary authentic dishes for 75,000 avid sports fans at any given time.

Anjula Devi – Utilizing her cookery skills and passion for spices, Anjula is best known for creating delicious, authentic Indian cuisine as a consultant chef for Manchester United, arguably the biggest football club in the world. Anjula is the author of Authentic Indian Food and Spice for Life, as well as an accomplished demonstrator and teacher. Anjula’s mission is to promote authentic to create wonderful, delicious and nutritious meals.

Master mixologists and sommeliers

Besides the Chefs participating at the World Culinary Showcase stage, master mixologists and sommeliers will guide Show attendees through a deeper understanding of the magic behind the bar. Featured master mixologists and sommeliers will include:

Tony Abou-Ganim – Abou-Ganim is widely regarded as one of the pioneering and leading bar professionals in the world. He has made dozens of TV appearances on shows including TODAY, Iron Chef America, Good Morning America, CNBC, Fox News and more. He is the author of The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails (Agate, 2010) which offers readers an in-depth look into spirits and ingredients available to today’s mixologist, both professional and amateur alike.

James Bowers – A true industry insider, Bowers began by building a career behind the bar. The Illinois native, went on to establish a solid status in the spirits industry, working at Los Angeles institutions such as Soho House and Coach and Horse. In his new role as National Brand Ambassador for The Macallan, James will be able to share his passion for single malt whisky as well as his knowledge around the iconic brand’s history and heritage.

Michael Carroll – Carroll first began as a certified chef traveling across the US and world, cultivating his diverse culinary talents and passion for brewing. In 2009, he chose to pursue his beer brewing ambitions, taking a position as a brewer for Half Acre Beer Co.. Since then, Carroll has exhibited a mastery in brewing traditions, and a number of his original recipes have graced the tables of many popular Chicago restaurants.

Jarmel Doss – Jarmel started her hospitality career by bartending to help her obtain her degree in biochemistry. She spent many years in hospitality management throughout Chicago. In 2015, she joined the Alinea group seeking something different. Ultimately, she fell in love with the science behind the magic. After expediting for a year and bartending in The Office, she was promoted to Assistant Bar Director in 2017.

Charles Joly – Joly is the Founder of Crafthouse Cocktails, a line of premium, bottled cocktails that debuted in 2013. He has opened and overseen seven venues in three different states and has developed one of the most respected beverage programs in the United States. Charles has received much industry praise, being named one of Bon Appétit ‘s 10 Most Influential Bartenders, one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top Spirit and Wine Professionals, and Crain’s 40 Under 40.

Maxx Kleiner – Kleiner was born and raised in the restaurant business. At the age of 16 years old, he started as a busboy at Carnivale and has worked up to his current position of Manager of Mixology and is a Level 1 Sommelier. Self-taught from his frequent world travels and travels around the United States, Maxx has revolutionized the Carnivale bar program with young, fresh and imaginative ideas.

Brian Schnell – A member of the Band of Bohemia team since 2016, Schnell has had various roles in the front of the house. He is now following his greatest passion by becoming one of Band of Bohemia’s Brewers, bringing yet another level of creativity to not only the brewing process, but the restaurant as a whole. Schnell is most looking forward to giving guests access to incredible cuisine paired with equally delicious beer pairings and adding his unique take to it in the process.

Further details:

These inspiring chefs and sommeliers will certainly contribute to a unique an enhanced show experience. Spanning three Halls at McCormick Place in Chicago, the Restaurant Show floor features more than 2,000 established and emerging supplier brands, hundreds of new-to-the-Show exhibitors, free consultation opportunities, specialty areas and culinary demonstrations from some of the most recognizable names in the business.

There is still time to register, for more information visit the Show’s website. Click here to view the up-to-date list of celebrity chefs and spirit masters that will be at our 100-year anniversary event.

Tatiana Vieira Green


The National Restaurant Association Show 2019, the largest foodservice trade show in the US, celebrates its centennial this year

For 100 years, the Restaurant Show has kept industry professionals informed about international culinary trends, the latest equipment, and the newest technology. At its centennial celebration, the Show will bring back floor features and programs that made it a staple and new attractions that will be worth waiting for.

Industry issues

The event was created in the early 1900s, when World War I was ending and the emerging US restaurant industry was determined to keep growing. At that time, many foodservice professionals were involved with their local Rotary clubs and other local groups.

Understanding the benefits of collaborating on common issues, a small group of rotarians and restaurateurs from Kansas City launched a national association. In 1919, about 200 members of the foodservice industry from 14 US states and Canada met to discuss the major issues affecting the industry. They held the first meeting of what is now the United States National Restaurant Association’s Fair on March 13 in Kansas City.

The Show is a truly global marketplace for an increasingly global industry. It is a place to celebrate international cuisine with demos by famous chefs & mixologists, discover the most exciting new offerings by the world’s biggest brands, meet with exhibitors from around the world, hear globally renowned leaders discuss critical issues and make connections that transcend boundaries and build your business.

At the 2019 Restaurant Show you will find hundreds of marketing and tech exhibitors, trendy chefs and culinary inspiration, the best in revolutionary equipment, and more than 700 food exhibitors.

Besides these amazing attractions, attendees will also find the following unique features especially designed for the event’s 100-year anniversary:

Culinary Experience CenterThe place to learn applied techniques and the latest trends in culinary, featuring new products that inspire creative and unique dishes.

ShowCentralThe place to connect, and find the answers to help move your business forward. Engage with the larger-than-life interactive display filled with live-streamed Show sessions, proprietary research, and interviews with industry heavyweights, just to name a few. Highlighted on the 2019 ShowCentral display will be the Operator Answer Center,  where subject matter experts will be there sharing data, offering insights, answering questions, and helping you understand how to bring this valuable content back to your business.

Digital Media SlamNew digital media solutions are launched at fast speed and what is new today is sometimes viewed as a waste of investment and time tomorrow. The Digital Media Slam was created for attendees to learn to navigate the digital landscape and grow business at quick-paced presentations showcasing restaurant and foodservice companies leading the way in digital media.

More than 100 free educational sessions

The educational sessions of the Restaurant Show offer free education opportunities like no other event in the food industry. This is your chance to increase industry knowledge.

Select one or more topics to develop to your professional abilities and the needs of your business.

100th anniversary celebration

This year all networking after-hour opportunities were combined in one big celebration. Enjoy food, drinks, and entertainment at our special events. Join Show attendees on Monday 20 May at the newest, hottest restaurant Tao Chicago, to celebrate the Show’s centennial.

The mission of the organizers of the event expresses the objective of the Show emphatically, having been created to bring together the global foodservice industry and create business opportunities and professional development.

Over the years the Show has gotten stronger and in 2018, overall international registration increased 5.6% and international exhibitors increased by 4.0%. The Show is the place to address current problems, find opportunities and preview the future. Join the industry to celebrate the Show’s centennial anniversary as together we discover what’s next for our industry.

The opportunities offered to international participants are enriching. The Restaurant Show is the only event with more than 100 FREE educational sessions, opportunities to make connections with a wide variety of participants from around the world, the opportunity to discover new products in other markets and the chance to interact with today’s best chefs.

Interested parties can participate in the event individually or join one of several groups that will be participating in the 2019 event. For a list of contacts in your country, please read the 2019 Show brochure.

To learn more about the event, visit the website Join the food industry outside the home to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Fair, which took place May 18-21 in Chicago, and to find out what’s next for our industry.


About the National Restaurant Association:

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises one million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 15 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf.

The Association operates the industry’s largest annual trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); and a unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart).

For more information, visit and find us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Tatiana Vieira Green