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What You Missed During NRA: The Tradeshow

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) show made its return to Chicago May 20-23, and Catersource was there to take it all in. Between the show's tradeshow and several invite-only events, there was plenty of inspiration around every corner. Over the next several weeks we'll be taking a look at all of it.

First up, let's take a quick look at the NRA tradeshow and some of this year's exhibitors. 

The NRA show housed three separate tradeshows within the confines of McCormick Place, showcasing equipment, supplies, ingredients, beverages, and plenty of samples to boot. 

Plant-based chorizo tacos are the perfect butler-passed hors d'ouvres for your clients. 

Smoked salmon flatbread with capers, onion, and chive cream cheese from Beaver Street Fisheries. 

Beaver Street Fisheries served up very on-trend bite in the form of coconut shirmp atop a mini waffle drizzled with hot honey. 

Fish and grits with apple maple bacon jam served in a perfectly adorable mini frying pan

Up your charcuterie game with a salami rose. 

Every caterer loves a good charcuterie cone. 

Think outside the box with your individual charcuterie options. Rather than a cone or miniature board consider placing your charcuterie atop a soft pretzel like this version shown in the Milwaukee Pretzel Company's booth.


One of 2023's biggest food trends is plant-based seafood. Here Boldly showcases its plant-based tuna poke. 

Bread continues to reign supreme at events in the form of butter boards and bread baskets as guests are ready to indulge again. Boulart offers a fun option for events in the form of a bread bicycle which features a warmer attached to the back. 

Elaborately garnished bloody marys are always popular, here is one featuring a doughnut and a deviled egg. 

Cheese on draft?! Michael Stavros (M Culinary Concepts) touched on this trend during the past two Catersource + The Special Event conferences. "I know its a gimmick, but people like gimmicks," he said. 

Italian-based pasta brand Felicetti demonstrated how they are able cook their pasta without having to boil it by soaking the pasta in water (or other liquid) for an hour to achieve the perfect al dente.

After the Felicetti pasta has hydrated (whether in water, juice, or other liquid), the chef is than able to finish the pasta on the stove top in just about 10 minutes. 

Libbey hosted a happy hour in their booth all four days of the NRA show where guests could enjoy food and drink. Shown: braised chicken and sauteed spinach. 

Libbery served a Hibiscus-tini, which was similar to a Cosmopolitan but featured hibiscus syrup (one of 2022's top trends). 

On the last day of  the NRA show, McCormick Place also played host to the Sweets & Snacks Show. One exhibitor showcased chocolate flowers, which seem like a great take-home favor for an event or could be a beautiful addition to your dessert table. 

Check back next week when we take a look at the MenuMasters celebration.

All photos courtesy Amber Kispert

Amber Kispert

Senior Content Producer

Amber is the Senior Content Producer for Catersource. Amber previously worked as a Communications Specialist for LeClair Group and a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, both located in Woodbury, Minn.  As a self-described "foodie," Amber loves to experience the world of food and beverages, and is excited to help share the stories of Catersource and the world's caterers.