Highlights from the 2011 National Restaurant Association Show

May 25, 2011

Every year, the third week of May brings with it some predictable events in Chicago. There's Craft Beer Week, of course, but there's also the scrum to try to get a restaurant reservation in this city when there's an extra 100,000 or so food lovers in town for the National Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. But this year, there was also the International Wine, Spirits and Beer event at McCormick Place, as well as the Sweets & Snacks Expo; no wonder Rick Bayless tweeted that his three restaurants had their best Saturday EVER this past weekend. 

I walked the floor on Monday, and came across some cool innovations, as well as some unique, little mom-and-pop businesses. I kind of dug the smoked olive oils from The Smoked Olive in Santa Rosa, California, but I was just as in love with the mini pies from Achatz Handmade Pies in Chesterfield, Michigan. If you think you've heard a lot about food trucks lately, you should have seen the number of trucks on hand this year - you just know that when Chicago's City Council eventually passes an ordinance, the trucks are going to be as prevalent as potholes. Well, maybe not that bad...

Here's a link to some more slides from the show on Monday, as I wandered around:
(photos courtesy Joseph Storch)