CHICAGO — The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show took place May 20 to 23 at McCormick Place in Chicago, bringing together more than 60,000 buyers, suppliers, manufacturers and industry professionals from around the world for an influential showcase of foodservice innovation and inspiration.
“The National Restaurant Association Show is a large, legacy event with a reputation for driving innovation,” said Tom Cindric, president of Winsight Exhibitions. “Each year, the show does what no other event can — it provides a full picture of where the industry is now and where it’s heading. Every exhibiting company helps create that picture. We’re thrilled to welcome so many newcomers this year, and look forward to seeing the latest from our returning exhibitors.”
The 2023 Show floor, spanning more than 650,000 sq. ft., featured more than 2,100 manufacturers and suppliers as they showcased their products and services across more than 900 categories, including food and beverage, equipment, technology, tableware, sanitation and more. Of those companies, more than 800 made their show debut – a 61-per-cent increase over last year’s first-time exhibitor total – and more than 1,300 returned.
Many of this year’s new exhibitors were found in one of seven featured pavilions: A Taste of the States, Bellavita Italian Pavilion, Iberica Spanish Pavilion, The Beverage Room, Global Food Expo, Organic & Natural and the Culinary Experience. Other pavilions included the Startup Alley and the TECH Pavilion. Both new and returning exhibitors have received specialty awards and were featured in designated areas on the show floor. This year, the show awarded a record-setting 42 exhibitors with Food and Beverage (FABI) Awards and 20 with Kitchen Innovations (KI) awards.
Recipients of the 2023 FABI Awards included Brown Sugar Instant Boba Kit (BOBABAM); Tuna Filet, Plant Based (Current Foods); 16oz Non-Stick Cooking Spray (La Tourangelle), V’DGZ Plant and Vegetables Shareables – Corn R’bz (McCain Foods) and more, while recipients of the KI awards included Aniai aGrill (Aniai); Intelligent French Fry Robotic Solution (Atosa USA, Inc.); Costa Smart Café Marlow 1.2 (The Coca-Cola Company), ConvoSense (Convotherm) and more.
New York restaurateur Danny Meyer and Slutty Vegan owner and CEO Pinky Cole headlined the event as the 2023 keynote speakers, with the NRA’s Michelle Corsmo serving as the moderator. During the session, these two restaurant visionaries – who have had entrepreneurial success both individually and in collaboration – spoke about the challenges and opportunities that paved the way for their business growth.
Additionally, attendees embarked on a journey through the future of the restaurant in a session titled, Chart Your Course: Traversing what’s next for the Restaurant Industry. Expert insights leaders from Technomic and Winsight Media, along with top industry operators, discussed the latest labour and menu trends and innovation.
The 2023 education program featured an array of sessions, deep-dive workshops and live culinary and beverage demos designed to provide forward-looking insights, new perspectives and strategies to facilitate growth. More than 100 sessions and demos covered eight education tracks, including Culinary Insights, Marketing Matters, Off-Premise, Operations Solutions, Technology Strategies, Trends in Adult Beverages, Wellness and Workforce Recruitment and Retention. The four business strategy and leadership workshops included Menu Optimization to Grow Business; Funding Your Restaurant Business’ Growth; Branding and Digital Media Bootcamp; and ServSuccess Restaurant Leader Workshop.
Furthermore, the chefs and culinary leaders demonstrated techniques, discussed the industry’s biggest issues and showed off the latest trends and innovations in food and beverage. The list of 2023 chef demos included Rick Bayless, award-winning chef, restaurateur, author and TV personality; Lauren Von Der Pool, chef, entrepreneur and philanthropist; Gemma Stafford, chef/baker, author and creator; Brian Duffy, chef, TV personality and hospitality consultant; Nancy Silverton, award-winning chef, restaurateur and author; Sean Sherman, award-winning chef and restaurateur, founder & CEO of The Sioux Chef and co-owner of Owamni by The Sioux Chef; Zoe Adjonyoh, founder of west African food brand, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen; Jeff Mauro, chef, TV personality and author; and Miguel Trinidad, chef, owner, culinary cannabis pioneer and author.