NRA Show 2015

The food and beverage industry’s most anticipated four-day event comes to Chicago next month when industry leaders and world-renowned chefs come together for the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) Hotel-Motel Show. “We are an evolving species and we are the people who feed, fuel and entertain populations and economies,” Chef Elizabeth Falkner says. “We have big responsibilities and we need to share and collaborate to become great.”

The NRA Show is the largest annual gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals, attracting more than 63,000 attendees and visitors from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The trade show showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues, and more growth opportunities than any other event, the NRA says. 

More than 2,000 exhibitors will be on the NRA Show floor ready for face-to-face interaction to take home quality leads, brand awareness and better connections. 

Dishing it Out

In addition to checking out new products on the show floor, attendees can stop by the popular World Culinary Showcase where world-class celebrity chefs will be serving up their culinary expertise. Chefs from across the country will prepare new recipes, show off different techniques and provide insight during the four-day show.  

To kick off the World Culinary Showcase on May 16, Rick Bayless will be cooking recipes from his latest cookbook, “More Mexican Everyday.” Bayless is a winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and the winner of multiple James Beard awards. He has authored seven cookbooks and is the chef and owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO and Tortas Frontera. 

“More Mexican Everyday” is about making home cooks less dependent on recipes and being more confident in the kitchen. Bayless says he thinks confidence has become more important and home cooks need someone to show them how and that they can cook simple and satisfying food. “I am really hoping to reach a broader audience of home cooks,” he says. “It seems like we have more access to ingredients than ever before, but we don’t always know what to do with them. I want to be a trusted guide.”

Executive Chef Barton Seaver hits the stage May 18 showcasing domestic aquaculture products, including Sunburst Trout Farm’s trout, oysters, mussels, salmon and sea greens. He is the host of the National Geographic web series Cook-Wise and the director of the healthy and sustainable food program at the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard.

The United States imports about 90 percent of the seafood its people consume, and aquaculture can help decrease the country’s dependence on these imports while increasing our national food security, Seaver says. “In addition to the well-known health benefits of a diet rich in seafood, domestic aquaculture benefits us in many other ways, providing jobs for hardworking Americans in an industry capable of expanding exponentially,” he adds. 

During his showcase, Seaver hopes to highlight the significance and versatility of domestic aquaculture products. He will be using North Carolina-based Sunburst Trout Farms as an example to support his discussion. “I hope to inspire and reintroduce products that people may not be considering at the forefront,” he says. “Hopefully, people will stop by to taste some delicious products and be re-inspired by domestically produced seafood.” 

Chef Falkner takes the stage on May 19 to show how to bring out and layer flavors in a vegetarian or grain dish. “I might also like to have some mystery basket ingredients subbed in or thrown into the mix, because I like cooking competitions so much and I think it is a great way for an audience to see the creativity of a chef, especially as someone who enjoys the challenges,” she says. 

Falkner is an award-winning chef, author and James Beard award nominee and participates on “Top Chef,” “Iron Chef” and “Kitchen Inferno.” “I haven’t been to the NRA Show since 2007, and I know it is a huge stage for seeing how our restaurant world is evolving. I feel I can learn a lot and add to the experience,” she says. 


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