The third weekend in May is an exciting time as Chicago one again opens its arms to the largest gathering of restaurant and food-service industry professionals in the world.
For nearly a century, the National Restaurant Association has represented the interests of America’s largest restaurant and food-service businesses. The annual NRA Show, scheduled for May 18-21 at McCormick Place in the Windy City, is expected to draw more than 60,000 attendees from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Exhibits will showcase new products, services and ideas. The 2013 International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event is held in conjunction with the NRA Show and will take place May 19-20.
If you’re planning on going, Learn2Serve will be exhibiting, so stop by booth #5665 and say hello! We’ll be discussing food and beverage education offerings such as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Food Protection Manager Certification, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) Food Safety Certification, and America’s first accredited HACCP course for retail.
Although discussing online education and career training is what we love, it would be impossible to list all the other exciting things attendees will be able to see and do. But here are a few highlights:
- Howard Schultz, president and CEO of Starbucks, will deliver the keynote presentation, “Transforming Companies for the Future: Balancing Profit with a Social Conscience.” Last year, Schultz launched the Starbucks “Create Jobs for USA” initiative, which raises money and supports small businesses in underprivileged communities. The program has attracted $15 million in donations and created or sustained 5,000 jobs. The keynote presentation will be at 3 p.m. May 19.
- Executives from Denny’s, Corner Bakery Café and Dairy Queen will participate in a panel discussion called “Top Ten Marketing Strategies for Restaurant Brands” at 1:30 p.m., May 18. The discussion will focus on how some restaurants make marketing look so easy. What’s the secret behind the brands you know and love? The NRA’s Marketing Executive Group will present social media and brand evolution strategies that those in attendance can tailor and apply to their business back home.
- The World Culinary Showcase will feature celebrity chefs demonstrating trends and techniques. The lineup includes cookbook author and winner of “Top Chef Masters” Rick Bayless, Food Network star Anne Burell, “Restaurant: Impossible” host Robert Irvine and the first* female Iron Chef, Cat Cora. These cooking demonstrations show off the country’s best-known chefs and their mastery of healthful cooking coupled with incredible creativity. Many of the chefs will focus on hot trends and emerging consumer demands such as local sourcing, organic produce and gluten-free alternatives.
- If those aren’t enough celebrities for you, “No Reservations” star Anthony Bourdain will host this year’s Restaurants Rock industry celebration, the convention’s after-party. He’ll be signing copies of his book and judging a mixology competition.
We’re happy to report that the food service industry is alive and well. Keeping on top of the latest food and beverage trends is on everyone’s mind, so there will be dozens of educational sessions on industry-relevant topics discussed in addition to the celebrity buzz and business seminars. We hope to see you in Chicago!
*Updated from “only” to “first.” Thanks, Tracy!