When you bring together a vast group of restaurant, hospitality and foodservice people, you will undoubtedly see a passion for the industry and the opportunity to learn something. This experience took place recently at the 2016 National Restaurant and BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants) show held at McCormick Place in Chicago.
The NRA Show increased in size from last year without question from an exhibitor and registrant perspective. There were more than 67.000 registrants from around the world in attendance. While this show is not designed for consumers to attend, the outcome of what is learned and shared at this show plays a role in what we encounter when visiting restaurants and utilizing food service locations. In appreciation for the coffee brands that offered energy to attendees as they walked this massive show, thanks to LavAzza for this beauty.
The take away is always the trends that are showcased throughout the show. Talking foods, spirits, restaurant equipment, training, health, marketing, resources and technology means you are exposed to the key subjects on many restaurants’ and even consumers’ minds. And even a little fun with entertaining pieces like this enormous three chocolate fondue pot:
And this edible drinkware:
Seminars sponsored by the NRA and brands focused on such areas as how consumers are choosing where to dine, how often, food options, pricing and the desire for healthy options. A session sponsored by Vitamix on how millennials approach dining, food, cooking and health was a fascinating lesson for all.
There is no doubt that restaurants are hearing consumers requests loud and clear regarding cleaner foods whether that means Organic, Non-GMO, no additives or gluten-free. Products are being launched and restaurants are listening and exploring, and in some cases, implementing new procedures in their restaurants.
This year’s NRA Show offered an exploration via Bellavita for a food tour through Italy. Bellavita is the largest Made-in-Italy food and wine expo outside of Italy. At the show, this exclusive Italian pavilion showcased the best quality products solely from Italian producers. Bellavita Expo also takes place in London and Amsterdam.
As you explore the show, you begin to notice that you are seeing products broadly marketing themselves like this:
Protein (non-animal products)
With vitamins and minerals detailed
Many different products utilized tea in some capacity. Some alcoholic and some not. All delicious.
Interesting additions to chips from beans to crickets. Yes, crickets.
Beans: Lentils, Chickpeas, White Beans
From the BAR Show, we saw the continuation of creating drinks that were highlighted as showing without certain ingredients and including healthier options like the previously mentioned tea, fruit, etc.
Mixology competitions ran throughout the BAR show entertaining attendees from a bar and cooking perspective.
Craft Pineapple Cider:
This year’s tabletop brought back some designs from year’s past. Coupe glasses for champagne, “new country” dinnerware with wider rims for more surface area and multi-toned flatware. Luigi Bormioli was showing not only how beautiful their glassware was but also how durable with this experiment. Break enough wine glasses and this test became even more intriguing.
High quality brands like Microplane with their new design of wood handled rasps work with restaurants as well homeowners. Watch for this design to show in your local kitchen stores.
Ending this trend summary with these adorable red bean piggy buns from Seawaves. This year’s show was filled with fabulous finds, new designs, fascinating research on how consumers are dining, healthy choices in food options, learning about Italian brands through the Bellavita Expo and seminars on understanding olive oils, knife skills and balsamic vinegars. Looking forward to next year’s NRA and BAR Show with great anticipation!