Annual NRA Show to Connect Operators and Suppliers From Around The World


Next month Chicago’s McCormick Place will bustle with the energy of 2,000 foodservice exhibitors showcasing new and improved products as more than 66,000 registrants trek through the behemoth tradeshow floorspace.

The 2014 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (NRA Show), which is held in conjunction with the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, and runs from May 17 to 20, will attract attendees from more than 100 countries, all interested in the latest trends, technology and information. “This show is the embodiment of the restaurant industry, and the energy, vibrancy and hospitality that our industry stands for is evident around every corner and in every conversation at the show,” says Sam Facchini, convention chair as well as co-founder and co-owner of the Nevada-based Metro Pizza.

What used to be niche product offerings are now featured front and centre. Capitalizing on its success from its inaugural year, the Alternative Bitestyle pavilion returns this year with a focus on allergy-friendly, dairy-free, Kosher, low-sodium and vegan foods. And, in addition to the 24,000 sq. ft. of floor space dedicated to new tech toys and software, attendees will have access to seminars on topics such as Big Data, PCI Compliance and how to better integrate technology into a wide range of marketing functions. Food trends, preparation methods and tricks will also be brought to life at The World Culinary Showcase, featuring chefs such as Maxime Bilet, co-author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking as well as Rick Bayless and David Burke of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters TV series.

Overall, the show will focus on a range of key issues. “This year in particular there has been a lot of discussion around regulatory topics such as health care, wage and tip compliance and immigration. We will have a number of sessions dedicated to helping operators understand the issues and how they relate to various sizes and types of operations,” says Leana Salamah, senior director, Convention Marketing & Communications, NRA. She adds: “Sustainability continues to climb ever higher on the radar for a couple of reasons — one, the potential cost savings associated with energy-efficiency and waste reduction, and, two, the growing consumer desire to patronize eco-friendly establishments.”

Meanwhile, new products that increase operational efficiency and conserve energy will be highlighted at the show as part of the NRA’s 2014 Kitchen Innovations Awards. The winning products include Alto Shaam’s CT PROformance Combitherm Oven; Fired Up Kitchens’ Smoke Zapper filtering system; and Manitowoc Beverage’s Multiplex Manual Fill Blend-in-Cup System.

But, after the tables have folded and chefs have turned off their ovens, the show’s legacy lies in the deals that will be made between exhibitors and attendees. “The most important service we offer at the NRA Show is providing the opportunity for restaurant operators from all walks of life and backgrounds to come together face to face and learn from one another, discover new products and services that solve their problems and find new and better ways to do business,” sums up Facchini succinctly. 

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