National Restaurant Association celebrates 100th Anniversary with a great show
In keeping with their trend-forward focus, the 2019 National Restaurant Association show offered the latest foodservice innovations with everything from a thousand-pound cheesecake to celebrate the centennial to FABI Awardee Tasting events throughout the show showcasing ‘what’s new and next’ in foods and beverages.
Plant-based protein was everywhere at the show. Long lines crowded around Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat booths to sample meatless burgers. Dr Praeger’s showcased a wide variety of plant-based protein ranging from their new Perfect Burger to chickenless breasts and strips, vegetarian breakfast sausage and their signature vegan California burger.
Ocean Hugger offered sustainable alternatives to raw tuna and eel with plant-based sushi made with tomato “tuna” and eggplant “eel.” Served with wasabi and pickled ginger; both were delicious.
Food transparency is a hot buzzword in the industry now. Consumers want real ingredients and no one did it better at the show than Tractor Beverage Company.
Their signage challenged consumers to “taste the truth” with a refreshing display of certified organic, non-GMO, clean label slushes, carbonated beverages and specialty beverages like icy-cold Mandarin Cardamom slush with tangy tangerine, turmeric, coriander and orange. There were even versions with spirits.
Another interesting find was the CS Group booth where they were introducing new Cool Attitudes Craft Mixers made with Fair Trade cane sugar, organic agave nectar, fresh juices and natural ingredients. These craft mixers combine premium ingredients with the efficiencies of Bag-in-a-Box dispensing technology.
CHEF to CHEF
Fresh really does matter when you are creating flavor; chefs get that. And who could understand that better than a chef-owned and operated spice company. Spiceology provides fresh ground spices, innovative blends, herbs, chiles and salts made for chefs, including their Modernist line of ingredients geared toward molecular gastronomy and modern cuisine preparation needs.
Labeled as a periodic table of flavor, their line of spices looks as bold and fresh as they taste. Expect to see more of this #1 fastest growing spice company in the country.
Like rolling thunder, the paper straw movement roared into the show as the poster child of sustainable packaging. As single-serve plastic comes under fire, the Aardvark Straws booth reminded us of the plight of sea creatures with adorable 6-foot tall sea turtles hugging giant sea turtle logo paper straws.
The eco-friendly paper drinking straws are compostable and earth- and marine-friendly and only cost about a penny more than plastic straws.
Changes in where and how we dine continue to be a dominant force at the show. UberEATS or other mobile delivery apps, such as Postmates, featured sleek contemporary booths geared towards millennials who want to eat in the comfort of their own space.
The Jetsons-like, voice activated robot Elf, programed to assist as an order taker, greeter and food runner at the restaurant was a novelty sight at the show.
More mainstream was a proliferation of booths featuring self-serve automated kiosks where diners could order and pick up a meal from a locker or cubby without ever interacting with another human being. Or bartenders could make an artisan cocktail with the push of a button.
Overall, the show was an amazing mosaic of cutting-edge foodservice equipment, on-trend food and beverage sampling, colorful chef demos and state-of-the-art POS technology that reflected the innovation and sheer power of the foodservice industry. And of course, authentic and ethnic food was easy to find. It’s just a question of what you want to sample. I can’t wait to see what next year’s show brings.
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