NRA show for non-commercial. Worth it?

Lindsey Ramsey hunts for non-commercial value at the restaurant world’s largest conference.

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

Sessions: Reviewing the list of educational sessions, there were a select few that sounded like they could have applicability for non-commercial operators. The sessions that I thought sounded best for the onsite industry included sessions on ethnic food trends. There were several sessions on sustainability, but the non-commercial side of the industry is so far ahead of the restaurant side, I was surprised they hadn’t asked some non-commercial operators to give the presentations. The same could be said for healthy menus. There were a few sessions on managing young employees as “Understanding Millennials in the Workplace,” which I think would definitely be valuable for C&U operators and possibly healthcare and B&I as well.

Conclusion: So is the NRA show worth it for non-commercial operators? From the industry members I talked to while at the show, the answer would be a resounding yes, but not for the most apparent reasons. It seems the operators who get the most out of the NRA are the ones who use it as an opportunity to be exposed to new flavors and ways of doing business. Camp Howard, director of Campus Dining at Vanderbilt University, who also has a chef background, told me he likes to use the NRA as an opportunity to try the latest restaurants in Chicago in the hope they inspire his team to try new things on their own menus. He and his team even keep a running tally of all the different species of animal they eat during their trip—they were up to 16 on Sunday night. While travel budgets are tight, it’s easy to see why many non-commercial operators save those dollars for their own segments’ conferences, but I would conclude that the National Restaurant Show is where you send your team if you want them to think outside the box and be inspired by something completely different. After all, the NRA is changing its approach to the non-commercial industry, giving the innovators in the field their due. Kennesaw State University won this year’s Innovator of the Year award, and the previous two years have seen non-commercial operators win the prestigious IFMA Gold Plate award. Since the NRA has begun to embrace non-commercial a little more, I think it’s worth it for those operators to do the same. 

Keywords: 
technology

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Italian food hall chain Eataly is making plans for a 2018 initial public offering in its home country, according to a report this week in Financial Times.

The company plans to list shares on the Italian stock exchange in Milan “as early as next year,” Eataly Executive Chairman Andrea Guerra told Financial Times .

Eataly is eager to expand the presence of its massive Italian food emporiums in the U.S., which have helped spur the growing food hall trend . The company has five locations here, with two in New York City and one each in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Financial...

Industry News & Opinion

Students staffing the foodservice department at Rutgers University will soon get an hourly pay bump, as the New Brunswick, N.J., university is raising its wage for student workers to $11 an hour, philly.com reports.

The increase will go in effect Jan. 1 and will impact 13,000 students.

The fight to raise wages at the school was spearheaded by student group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), which is continuing to push the university to increase student wages to $15.

The fight for a $15 wage for student workers has spread at schools throughout the country,...

Industry News & Opinion

After shutting down 265 schools due to ongoing wildfires, the Los Angeles Unified School District kept three schools open on Friday and Saturday to provide meals for students and their families, the Los Angeles Times reports.

At one of the schools, employees and volunteers handed out around 100 meals on Friday and 270 meals on Saturday. The meals included items such as dragonfruit punch, raisins, bananas, sunflower kernels, whole-grain cinnamon graham crackers, sunflower seed butter and fat-free chocolate milk.

Around 80% of students in the district come from low-income...

Sponsored Content
Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds,...

FSD Resources