Bigger and Better


The 98th annual NRA Show to offer celebrity chefs, BAR 17 and re-imagined educational program.

Returning for its 98th year, the National Restaurant Show provides attendees with everything they need to stay relevant and profitable in foodservice.

Located in Chicago on May 20-23, the NRA Show has come a long way since its debut in 1919, and today it features 2,300 exhibitors representing more than 900 product categories; inspired culinary demos from the world’s most talented chefs; more than 67,000 peers from 100 countries, ready to collaborate; and the colocated BAR 17.

“At the National Restaurant Association, we’re all about building on the success of the last NRA Show and looking for ways to infuse new and innovative learning and experiences,” says Mary Pat Heftman, executive vice president, Convention & Strategic Alliances. “Take, for example, our re-imagined educational programming, which we’ve fine-tuned to impart the knowledge needed to improve business operations.”

Chef magazine caught up with the staff of the NRA Show to see what’s new this year.

What’s new for 2017?
We’ve fine-tuned our educational programming so that each session is conveniently located on the show floor and is capped at 45 minutes to ensure attendees receive cutting-edge industry knowledge for a manageable time investment. Basically, we want to give them every opportunity to stay current and then get back to business.

What’s new for BAR 17?
BAR 17 will again be co-located inside McCormick Place alongside the NRA Show. In addition to expanding the exhibit floor and offering a revitalized Main Stage, we’re excited to launch the inaugural BAR Management Conference with an array of lectures, workshops and round-tables intended to explore bar trends, pain points and best practices for profitability.

What is returning?
Back for 2017 are our specialty pavilions and demonstration areas— places like Alternative Bitestyle, Internet of Things, Organic & Natural Pavilion and Tech Pavilion, to name a few. These are specially curated attractions sprinkled throughout the show floor that focus on emerging technologies, unique ingredients and shifting trends—basically, the latest developments attendees need to stay ahead of the competition.

What’s most popular?
Designed to inspire brilliant new ideas, Bellavita is the largest madein- Italy Food & Wine Expo this side of the Atlantic, featuring extraordinary Italian products. Foodamental Studio is where attendees can roll up their sleeves and experiment with the processes and techniques behind today’s hottest food trends. The World Culinary Showcase will invite the world’s most talented chefs to provide a rare glimpse into their techniques, recipes and secrets, all while sharing stories and philosophies that have inspired them.

Tell us about the seminars.
We have a couple specialized summits returning: Foodservice @ Retail Summit and the Non-Commercial Summit. Each will include lectures aimed at addressing the challenges, opportunities and best practices for these exciting but tricky foodservice segments.

Other seminars will cover topics organized into three tracks: Workforce Development, Business Operations and Food & Nutrition. More session information is available on our website,

Tell us about the chef demos.
We’re excited to welcome three world-renowned chefs: Rick Bayless, Maneet Chauhan and Fabio Vivani.


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