After Being Rescheduled Due to Hurricane Irma Thousands of Industry Professionals Gather for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show
ORLANDO, FL October 20, 2017 - This year's Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, held last week at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, brought together the foodservice and hospitality industry after being delayed due to the impact of Hurricane Irma. Despite a rescheduled show, restaurant owners and operators, chefs, foodservice professionals and others gathered to take advantage of all the great product launches and networking opportunities the show had to offer. The event was sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, (FRLA) a partner of the National Restaurant Association.
The show featured the presentation of several prestigious awards including the Torch Award and the Beacon Award. Wednesday's presentation of the Beacon Award, which recognizes a woman leader who has truly served as a beacon to the industry through their leadership, contributions and inspiration was presented to Carol Dover, President and CEO of the FRLA. The Torch Award was presented on Thursday afternoon to Chef Michelle Bernstein, Owner of Crumb on Parchment and Michelle Bernstein Catering. Bernstein has dazzled diners and critics alike with her sublime cuisine and bright personality and is dedicated to supporting Common Threads, an after school program for underprivileged children.
The Winners of the People's Choice Awards for the Innovative New Product Showcase were announced. The Overall Winner was PayMyTab for their mobile app and pay at the table EMV devices giving guests simplicity and security while paying. The 1st Place Runner Up was Oumph! a 100% plant based product that comes in a variety of shapes and consistencies and is extremely rich in protein and fibers and a perfect source of folic acid and iron; and The 2nd Place Runner Up was Betson Enterprise for coin operated arcade games, vending machine & game room equipment including pool tables, pinball machines & touch screen video games. The winner of the Best New Product in the Food Trends Experience was Oceana Coffee for their award winning coffees including Golden Bean Espresso Blend, Ethiopia Limu and others. Editors from several leading industry publications identified 14 innovative new products that were presented to the media and buyers. The best new product in the Pitch the Press program was presented to Elaine's Gluten Free for their gluten free pizza crust, tortillas and bread products.
Industry professionals took advantage of the 30+ education sessions featuring interesting and timely topics including; The Foodservice Council for Women Panel Discussion (shown left); Why Whiskey; Food Safety in the Age of Social Media; Winning the Confidence of Gluten Free Diners; Restaurant Makeover: Refresh, Rebrand or Redesign; How are Generational Differences and Healthful Food Trends Impacting your Restaurant and much more.
Attendees watched as rising star chefs competed in the Rapid Fire Challenge: Key Lime Edition. Salvador Soberanis, Executive Chef, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort was named the champ of the competition for his Paradise Ceviche Recipe by moderator Darren Denington, Service With Style. Salvador competed against Eileen Morris, APPCA, Personal Chef Tampa Bay in the face off of their key lime recipes.
There were plenty of culinary experiences to be explored on the show floor from the Food Trends Experience, a tasting adventure providing direct access to products, flavors and ingredients driving the most recent trends in the market, to the Beer, Wine & Spirits Pavilion which brought three days of tasting, learning, sourcing and exposure to the show.
The American Culinary Federation Central Florida Chapter also hosted a fundraiser on each day of the event. For five dollars' attendees had access to the competition and a daily tasting of different flavor profiles, served by local culinary arts students. Wednesday's tasting was chili, either Texas style, vegetarian, or hunter style duck. Thursday's tasting was grilled cheese, surprise, BLT or traditional style. Chowder was served on Friday as either Manhattan style, New England or corn. The proceeds from this fundraiser went to support the American Culinary Federation Team USA 2020.
As part of the FRLA Gives Back initiative, the FRLA collected donations throughout the show and also at the Hospitality Stars of the Industry Celebration for the Florida Disaster Fund and CORE charities. The Florida Disaster Fund helps provide financial support to Florida's communities in times of disasters, like Hurricane Irma. CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees) grants support to children of food and beverage service employees navigating life-altering circumstances. FRLA also coordinated a hospitality hour encouraging the industry to support Feeding Children Everywhere's "Orlando Cares: Hope for Puerto Rico" event being held at the Orange County Convention Center. Industry participants gathered to help package 4.4 million meals to send to FEMA to distribute to residents in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria.
At the close of the Show, the exhibitors of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show donated thousands of pounds of food to The Second Harvest Food Bank of Orlando.
The 2018 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show is scheduled for Thursday, September 6 - Saturday, September 8, 2018 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. The Show is produced and managed by Urban Expositions (www.urban-expo.com) and sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (www.frla.org). Urban Expositions, now operating as Clarion UX and owned by Clarion Events, produces several other foodservice events including the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York to be held Sunday, March 4 - Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at the Javits Center in New York and the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, which will be held Sunday, August 19 - Tuesday, August 21 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more information on exhibiting or attending future events, visit www.thefoodshows.com.
ABOUT CLARION EVENTS -- Clarion Events operates over 180 events in 50 countries from offices in the UK, South Africa, USA, Brazil, Germany, Singapore, UAE, and the Netherlands. Clarion can trace its roots back to 1947 and takes great pride in being one of the oldest independent event organizers in the UK. More recently the firm has developed an international portfolio of brands and now has interests in a number of global vertical industries. The teams at Clarion create uniquely effective and stimulating environments that can serve as a platform to build businesses, enhance customer relationships and accelerate product awareness. www.clarionevents.com