NRA Preview and Poduct Showcase

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Learn new trends, advance operations and refresh your culinary skills with thousands of foodservice professionals in Chicago, May 20-23.

Trade shows are a vital opportunity for chefs to quickly catch up on industry trends and refresh their culinary education.

The National Restaurant Association’s four-day Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show on May 20- 23, 2017, in Chicago is offering 40 learning sessions that will cover both back and front-of-house operations.

“Work force is the No. 1 challenge for the restaurant industry over the past six months—recruiting talented workforce, training them and retaining them,” says Mary Pat Heftman, executive vice president, Convention & Strategic Alliances. “So we’ll offer a bevy of opportunities to help answer those questions as well as, how do you attract and grow traffic, or grow check size?

“All of those topics are available at the NRA Show around culinary, bar and restaurant experiences.”

Bellavita
After last year’s successful debut, the largest made-in-Italy Food & Wine Expo found outside the mother country will once again co-locate with the NRA Show inside its own Lakeside Center exhibit hall inside Chicago’s McCormick Place Convetion Center. “We’re partnering again because of Bellavita’s strength of relationships within the Italian food and wine community, and there’s nothing like it here in the U.S.,” says Heftman.

“We’ve got exhibits from more than 40 countries. Some are bigger than others, and some are organized in pavilions; but Bellavita is far and away larger than any others.”

Taste the best of Italy and create new leads. Mario Rizzotti, “Iron Chef America” judge, will host a Cooking Demo each day, and Michelin-starred chef and TV star Fabio Viviani will demo on May 23. Look for the winners of the Excellence at Bellavita Awards.

Foodamental Studio
This interactive, hand-on learning lab is back. Most classes are free but some have a fee and require registration. (Hurry, they fill up fast.) Led by a faculty of executive chefs, last year’s participants underwent a crash course in pickling, sushi rolling or brewing craft sodas.

“It’s really about how to capitalize on trends and, instead of buying it, creating it yourself,” says Heftman. “We pick topics that aren’t necessarily mainstream and may be a differentiater for your menu to help you stand out.”

World Culinary Showcase
Education becomes entertainment when celebrity chefs are doing the teaching. Learn the tips and tricks that helped these culinary A-listers. The lineup includes six-time James Beard winner Rick Bayless; “Restaurant Impossible” host Robert Irvine; Food Network’s Anne Burrell; “Chopped” judge Maneet Chauhan; and Chicago favorite Stephanie Izard, of Girl and the Goat. “It’s a chance to hear what they’re doing and see the techniques they’re using,” says Heftman.

Bar 17
Held Sunday, May 21, and Monday, May 22, this trade show has co-located with the NRA Show since 2008. For $149 (which includes NRA Show admission), bar and beverage professionals are exclusively invited to view thousands of established and emerging beverage-alcohol brands and related products and services, seminars and demonstrations.

“There’s lots to be seen at the trade show with the suppliers. But if you’re also interested in expanding your knowledge and improving your operation, there are speakers, workshops and experts to learn from at the brand-new Bar Management Conference.”

Bar Management Conference
Making its grand debut at Bar 17, the Bar Management Conference features workshops hosted by bar experts over the span of two days. Admission is $229 (which includes BAR 17 and NRA Show access). Experts will advise how to drive traffic and increase sales and explain how food works with beverage to create a richer experience and, ultimately, a higher check average.

“The conference is a new series of featured speakers that will provide case studies, workshops, lectures and leadership seminars to really target the key areas of the bar business and the professional development of bar professionals,” says Heftman.

There are four targeted tracks and 18 specialized sessions, including Beverage Trends & Innovation; Bar Food & Menu Development; Team Training & Building; and Marketing, Promotion & Social Media.

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