By Renee Clarke, Employer Relations Manager; photos by Marcelle Benedicta

Keeping up with the restaurant industry trends, CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel recruitment team attended the National Restaurant Association’s trade show event in Chicago!

The 2014 NRA Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, in its 95th year, ran this week at McCormick Place. The overall show was an impressive display of what is trending in everything from diversified menu options to accommodate the growing multicultural palate, to latest fashions in chef ware; hottest flavor combinations (I’m looking at you Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Hot Sauce-chocolate frozen yogurt), to Eco-friendly toss-able serve ware.

What really was amazing though was watching, talking to and participating in events with the varying attendees; from tech companies to chefs in uniform, from universities to nutritionists [I hope they do not review my list below…], equipment suppliers to franchisors.  Of course there were attendees from all over the U.S., as well as the world! I stood in line behind a group of restaurant owners from Bogota, Columbia while we were waiting to sample some bacon, who were all just as impressed with the displays as I was.

Everyone got something different out of the show; it was impossible not to.  The show was well organized into different topics.  All of this came together for me as my colleague and I were able to attend the session “Encouraging Healthy Transformations for Multicultural Consumers Within The Food Industry…One Plate at a Time,” presented by chefs and professionals who are leaders in their industry as well as have an eye on the future.  My favorite quote of the day, however, was “multiculturalism is here to stay!”

This could not ring more true as the ENDLESS food options and samples were mind-blowing!  I struggled here to list my top 10 foods sampled [in alphabetical order to not show favoritism]:

Alligator gumbo

Cajun crawfish rice

Chicken -n-waffles (yes, chicken in a waffle)

Fish-less fish sticks

Gluten free, salted caramel cream puff

Mangú-o-Rita

Manzanita Sol [Mexican apple-flavored soda]

Matcha popcorn

Okonomiyaki with kale and mushrooms

Yakisoba omelet

Attending this convention helped me to better understand the industries that many of our Work and Travel participants work in. With all the fun, educated, tech savvy and thrifty ideas in the marketplace, I can tell that our participants much be having lots of fun at their workplaces.