CHICAGO — The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show was held live at Chicago’s McCormick Place May 21 to 24 for the first time since May of 2019.
The largest industry event focused on foodservice technology innovations, unique ingredients, and emerging restaurant trends, welcomed more than 51,000 registered restaurant owners and operators, retail foodservice professionals, food and ingredient suppliers, equipment manufacturers, and many more for four days filled with innovation, ingredients, insights and thought leadership. Attendees represented more than 110 countries and all 50 states and more than 1,800 exhibitors filled three exhibit halls and nearly 600,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space.
“The 2022 Show was one of the most-anticipated events of the year and after three long years, we couldn’t wait to bring the foodservice community back together to celebrate the advancements that drove the industry forward,” says Tom Cindric, president of Winsight Exhibitions. “From the vibrant tradeshow floor and latest innovations to new flavor trends and expert-led education sessions, there truly was something for everyone.”
Alexis Ohanian, Seven Seven Six founder & Reddit co-founder, took centre stage on May 21 as the show’s keynote speaker, presented by American Express. During the session with moderator Starr Marcello of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Ohanian offered his perspectives on how the latest technologies — including NFTs, Web3 and the metaverse — are impacting the foodservice industry today. He stated that even with these technologies, “we are still a species that needs offline interaction.” He emphasized that there is “tremendous competition for attention” so restaurants need to invest in being “thoughtful and intentional” to thrive, adding that creating a fear of missing out through rotating or limited-run menus may help drive consumer interest.
In addition to the keynote address, the show featured nearly 100 sessions covering seven education tracks — culinary insights, operations solutions, technology strategies, the new consumer, trends in adult beverage, wellness, and workforce recruitment and development. Paid workshops were offered as well, with hands-on deep dives for more than 600 operators into industry opportunities, including ghost kitchens, virtual brands, and navigating the technology landscape. In the featured session, presented by Uber Eats, Technomic experts and restaurant operators answered questions about the most pressing issues facing the industry today, including inflation, supply-chain management, labour challenges, ghost kitchens, shifting consumer demographics, social responsibility, sustainability and technology.
The show floor highlighted the largest Kitchen Innovations Showroom in the event’s 100+ year history, with equipment focused on automation, efficiency, safety improvements, sustainability and waste solutions, developed to help address many of the challenges facing the industry today.
Another first at the show this year was the kickoff of an initiative to support the ongoing efforts of World Central Kitchen by chef José Andrés. On top of the amount raised at the show, Winsight Exhibitions will contribute an additional $10,000 to support World Central Kitchen’s efforts in providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate and community crises in the U.S. and abroad. Donations will continue to be accepted throughout the summer: donate.wck.org/2022RestaurantShow.