The 100th National Restaurant Show held in Chicago has showcased hundreds of pieces of breakthrough equipment and solutions, innovative food-and-beverage products and must-see attractions.

“The centennial show was a success by every measure,” says Mary Pat Heftman, president of the Restaurant Show Group at Winsight and the show’s producer. “Besides the record exhibit sales and strong attendance growth, the energy on the show floor was palpable. Education sessions were crowded, there were delicious new foods at every turn and, once again, ingenuity was on display everywhere you looked.”

For four days, participants explored the future of the foodservice industry, discussed the need to generate new marketing opportunities and highlighted the impact of online- and mobile-ordering technology. It also gave guests the opportunity to learn, experience, network, sample and test the latest offerings.

During the show, technology company Tablee Co. showcased its hardware-and-software combination solution for the hospitality sector — primarily restaurants, bars, hotels and country clubs. Featured technologies included a small on-table device for guests, smart watches for servers and data-tracking software for operators.

The show also discussed the topic of food safety. At a time when millions of people get sick from food illnesses, the industry is looking more efficient ways to follow rules and protocol. PathSpot Technologies developed a hand scanner that allows operators to detect invisible signs of bacteria and viruses such as Norovirus, E.coli, listeria, Hepatitis A and salmonella.

Sustainability was also a hot topic during the event, which showcased innovative products such as FabaButter — a plant-based butter that is made from a foodwaste ingredient (upcycled aquafaba) — and Renewal Mill’s high-protein, high-fiber, gluten-free okra-based flour.

For the fifth year-in-a-row, the show hit a record for exhibit-space sales. It also welcomed 42,557 attendees — three-per-cent more than in 2018.

“We saw attendee growth from California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Indiana all showing positive gains,” says Heftman. “We also saw growth from all corners of the map, including key markets such as China, Japan, Colombia and others. Growth like this comes from keeping the Show fresh every year, but more importantly, keeping our focus on helping operators of all sizes grow their business and driving profitability.”