This year, The National Restaurant Association Show put the food back in food show. There were opportunities for everyone while exploring the show floor—whether you were interested in searching for the perfect new product, meeting your favorite chef in action, attending thoughtful education sessions or trying unique food and beverage experiences, there was something for you here. From morning meetings to late night events, we loved seeing everyone!
To relive the highlights of the show, our Esrockers compiled a rundown of the seven most buzzworthy takeaways from the holiday weekend.
Without further ado, here’s…
Food With a View: The Esrock POV
1. Give ‘Em The Option
Consumers want customization. So, sharing this convenience, is good business. It’s why we fall in love, time and time again with innovations like the Heinz Remix™ and Coca Cola Freestyle®.
(When will someone develop the equivalent for cold and iced coffee?)
2. Make A Show Of It
New Wave Foods had Chef Brian Duffy demoing how to bring sustainable plant-based seafood into contemporary remakes of classic favorites. McCain Foods had an epic throwdown of dueling chefs competing to create mouthwatering menu concepts featuring their Mini Mashers™. Nestlé Professional partnered with The Food Institute to host a two-day livestream of culinary demos, key interviews, and discussions to provide perspective on what’s shaping the restaurant industry of tomorrow.
The takeaway is clear: there’s another wonderful show inside the show at the best booths.
3. Have Fun! This Is Food
Like an old saying goes: pics or it didn’t happen. Booths everywhere were structured with interactive photo opportunities creating a take-home impression. Kraft Heinz Away From Home incorporated a larger-than-life ketchup bottle and macaroni swing. Oscar Meyer even brought the frankmobile.
Exemplary booth experiences were everywhere. Tyson Foodservice shined bright on the big stage with a digital, interactive trivia game and partnering touchscreens that shared samples and generated leads.
4. No Alcohol! No Problem!
Gen Zers are drinking about 20% less alcohol per capita than Millennials did at their age, according to a recent report from Berenberg Research. Now there’s a growth market! Zero proof is more than a trend—it’s an expanding class of hospitality.
When you’re on the clock, looking to stock up for your next happy hour menu, check out brands like Mingle and their carefully crafted mocktails or Better Rhodes and their classy wines.
5. Think Of The Alternatives
Plant-based products are nothing spectacularly new. However, the category of available options is growing. A few offerings caught our eyes:
Proterra offers a protein crumble for every possible application.
Chunk is a whole cut steak substitute made from plants.
Eclipse is a non-dairy frozen dessert that’ll make you scream just like ice cream.
Daring is plant-based chicken substitute and contains just six ingredients—that’s nearly 50% less than its market competitors.
Meati is a mushroom root protein and substitute for chicken and steak.
6. Make Space For Tech
Emerging technology is everywhere these days. And that included the show floor. From digital menuing and delivery companies to self-service checkouts, tech is an integral part of our food routines. And it’s an answer to save on labor, backed by artificial intelligence.
Don’t get us started on the impressive advancement in robot technology. We see you FRYBOT™, and we tasted your fries! Blodgett Ovens brought their two new, can’t miss products—the Invoq and ImVection.
When we needed a hearty meal to refuel after our countless steps, we stopped by automated vending machine created by Yo-Kai Express.
7. The Show Doesn’t Stop
After hours makes great business hours. Trust us.
At Distribution Market Advantage’s Kickoff Event on the roof of the Old Post Office, customers distributors and sponsors reconnected.
Then, at this year’s Gold & Silver Plate Awards sponsored by IFMA, the best of the best operators from all the various categories came together for a night of celebration. Congratulations to Jessica Shelly, Director of Student Dining Services at Cincinnati Public Schools, who received the coveted 2023 IFMA Gold Plate Award!
When it came time to party, Nestlé Professional hosted their One Night Only Party for select industry attendees.
Flavor Foray gathered the best chefs in Chicago for their Championship BBQ & Cook-Off, where operators and manufacturers wined and dined. There was Bunge’s Food Truck, too!
Finally, Tyson Foodservice hosted a little get-together with a collection of customers and partners at Flight Club right off the river in The Loop.
Courtesy of the Esrock Partners