Event preview: NRA Show 2017

With an attendee list set to top 67,000 foodservice professionals, NRA Show 2017 is a huge event with plenty to appeal to consultants, operators and manufacturers alike

More than 67,000 foodservice professionals are expected to attend the 2017 National Restaurant Association Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show, held May 20-23 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Roughly 2,300 exhibitors will represent 900-plus product categories, while celebrity chefs like Rick Bayless, Maneet Chauhan and Fabio Viviani will demonstrate different dishes at the World Culinary Showcase, running all four days.

“The renowned celebrity chefs participating in this year’s World Culinary Showcase demonstrate some of the first-class techniques, tips, and tricks that catapulted them into the spotlight,” says Eyvazian. “Their combined expertise and insights are part of what makes the NRA Show 2017 a one-stop destination for any foodservice operator.”

Education, education, education 

As always, each day will feature a packed lineup of education sessions, and this year, they’ve been capped at 30 minutes and moved from the upstairs conference rooms to right on the show floor so that everyone pressed for time can attend. Consultants might find particular interest in Introducing Generation Z; Sustainability Trends and Tips; The Impact of Customer-Facing Technology on Restaurant Design; Robots in Foodservice, and Global Innovation: What We Can Learn from the Best New Concepts.

Two Summits at the Show will dive deep into the world of retail and non-commercial foodservice operations. As foodservice in grocery and c-stores continue to grow at an exponential rate, the NRA Show has expanded its Foodservice @ Retail Summit, held Sunday, May 21-Monday, May 22, with a presentation on the latest trends by Technomic as well as a tour at Latinicity and presentation of the Latin food hall’s founder, Richard Sandoval.

The Non-Commercial Summit, held on Monday, May 22, will address various topics impacting K-12, healthcare and college/university operators such as healthy foods, technology/online ordering and more.

Back for its third year at the NRA Show, Startup Alley will showcase emerging, tech-savvy startups in the restaurant technology space.

Plant-based foods, premium authentic beverages, new bakery products, and more are among the 36 FABI Award recipients selected this year.

“The FABI Awards offer restaurant operators an inside look at the future of food and beverage as the industry continues to innovate and move forward,” says Eyvazian. “It’s very exciting to discover new flavors, on-trend menu items, and delicious food that’s both nutritious and allergy-friendly.”

FCSI will not have a booth at the show, according to Wade Koehler CAE, executive director of FCSI The Americas, but he encourages everyone to attend the annual networking and cocktail party, hosted by The Upper Midwest Chapter, at The Godfrey Hotel’s Urban Roofscape Lounge on Sunday, May 21, from 5pm to 7pm.

2017 Kitchen Innovations® (KI) Awards

This highly-anticipated lineup of new, innovative equipment this year features 18 selected solutions to address operator concerns from labor, energy and water efficiency to food safety, sanitation, cross-functionality and space-saving.

“The engineers and inventors who develop these KI Award innovations work tirelessly to solve the challenges of back-of-the-house operations, to the great benefit of restaurant operators,” says Atour Eyvazian, convention chair for NRA Show 2017 and multiunit owner of 107 Jack in the Box restaurants in Houston and San Antonio. “The KI award is a testament to their contributions in improving the foodservice industry.”

Among this year’s winners are a multi-cook oven, a dual zone egg station for all-day breakfast, a high efficiency warewasher with drain water energy recovery, a hot water glasswasher using reverse-osmosis filtration to eliminate the need for hand polishing, a hot-holding cabinet with a touchscreen display to show what’s being held across the kitchen, an induction cooktop that works with any kind of pan, a silverware rolling machine, a convection oven with removable, dishwasher-safe doors, and more.

This year’s Kitchen Innovations judges included Dan Bendall FCSI (Principal, FoodStrategy, Inc.); David Chislett (executive principal, Ricca Design Studios); Jeff Cook (chief engineer, Restaurant Solutions Group, McDonald’s Corporation); Richard Eisenbarth FCSI (president / COO, Cini-Little International); Foster F. Frable, Jr. FCSI Associate AIA (president, Clevenger Frable LaVallee); Randy Homer (program manager, Food & Beverage Operations Asset Management, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts); Jim Krueger, Jr., CMCE, NRAMF (chief, Air Force Food & Beverage Policy, Procedures, Business Development & Strategic Initiatives Air Force Services Activity [AFSVA] San Antonio, TX); Aaron Lamotte (senior director, Performance Interiors
, Sodexo Performance Interiors), and Steve Otto (director, Capital Equipment Purchasing, Darden).

Amelia Levin

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