Making our Mark at the National Restaurant Association Show
As we begin to look at interiors and plateware, I’ve been pouring through pictures of our trip to Chicago in May so I thought I’d share our experience with you.
No one puts on a show quite like the NRA...National Restaurant Association that is. When the best of the hospitality business come together in one of America’s greatest cities there is bound to be a great time and a great wine. We had the chance to meet chefs, vendors, and experts throughout the hospitality industry at the show in Chicago. Jeff and I have been to this show before but it was so awesome to experience it as restaurateurs!
It’s a quick trip to Chicago but a very different pace. You can feel the momentum and the energy as soon as you hit the outskirts. We drove in with Carlo and Sofia as they were flying to Italy that day and an old friend of mine, Jacelynn rode over from Minneapolis on the mega bus. That is the thing about a big city, worlds, people, things are always converging. It was surreal to have all of these amazing people who have blessed our lives in different circles connected if only for a few moments and then separate again on the platform of the “L.”
Jacelynn had also flown home 7 years (almost to the day) prior and the three of us opened Jeff’s first food cart; JCheezy Dogs at the Blessing of the Bikes. It poured but we had a blast. It’s a reminder that there are people in our lives who will always be there, we do not take this for granted.
We stayed at the Palmer House in the heart of downtown with ornate details at every turn. The architecture junkie in me could not get enough of the gilded peacock doors, mail slots, and frescos on the ceiling. It was truly like walking back in time.
As for the show it did not disappoint. There were numerous vendors, great products, uniforms, furniture, cocktails and of course food-including a pretty great Chicago Dog To end day 1. One of our favorite things that they did was feature things from the Great Lakes both at the food show and in the bar section. We did manage to pick up a zesty, delicious Bloody Mary mix with pickled green beans and a bacon rim salt to test with the run group. We cannot wait for Saturday brunch with a Bloody Mary bar.
The Bellavita Expo was, by far our favorite spot. Lavazza was serving a perfect macchiato, gelato was flowing everywhere we turned and we managed to find Prosecco on tap. We had the chance to sit in on a demo with Adam Weisell and I even rolled gnocchi onstage. But the highlight of the show had to be meeting Mossimo Bottura only topped by the opportunity to eat his food. We have watched his episode of the Chef’s Table on Netflix and are in love with his story. To hear him talk about being under the table and watching the flour rain down almost transports you to Italy through the eyes of a young child. The way he approaches food with art and disruption is both beautiful and inspiring and yet to meet him, he was humble, charming, and only wanted to feed people. We were on the outskirts of the ropes and thrilled when he through off the whole crew by asking for more to send out to the crowd-it was amazing.
Before leaving Chicago we hit Eataly for dinner and a Spritz Aperol while admiring all of the delicious treats. In the end, our NRA show trip was surrounded with great friends, great food and wonderful experiences and we can’t wait to go back next year!