Enhancing the Total Dining Experience is the Focus in Chicago

National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and new International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event are forums for menu concepts and ingredients following the hottest trends

(Chicago, Ill.)  The exploding “foodie” culture is creating a highly sophisticated and evermore adventurous consumer base that is looking for new and exciting flavors combinations. Restaurateurs wanting to coordinate their food and beverage offerings to meet those growing expectations and gain a competitive edge will gather at the restaurant industry’s largest trade show to get their creative juices flowing. Thousands of chefs will join other restaurant industry professionals to explore menu concepts, ingredients and pairings with the trendiest ingredients and hottest ideas at the 2008 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and the new International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (IWSB), making Chicago the center of the culinary universe this May.

“The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the number-one venue for everything restaurant-related, and this year we will shine the spotlight on one of the main reasons Americans love to dine out­adventurous and innovative culinary creativity,” said William C. Anton, FMP, convention chairman for the 2008 Show, and chairman and founder of Anton Airfood, Inc. “The world of cooking is growing more sophisticated and the use of various ingredients is expanding to explore complementary flavors and taste sensations more than ever.” 

To highlight some of the hottest trends in food and beverage that can be explored at the NRA Show and IWSB, the National Restaurant Association has developed the recipes below, designed to be used by professional chefs and home cooks alike. These recipes incorporate some of the top trends identified in the recent survey of more than 1,200 chefs (all members of the American Culinary Federation), including bite-size desserts and small plates, alternative-source ingredients and ethnic flavors. Specialty alcohol also ranked close to the top of the hottest trends, including craft beer, energy drink cocktails, martinis, mojitos and artisan liquor, as is culinary uses of alcohol and food-alcohol pairings.

The 2008 Show, to be held May 17-20, will include several culinary-focused features, including the Culinary Scene, where culinary artists will create signature dishes and pair them with beer and wine in interactive showcases; the Celebrity Book Signing & NRA Show Bookstore, where celebrity chefs and star restaurateurs will sign books and meet attendees; the Organics & Natural Pavilion; the International Cuisine Pavilion; and education sessions focusing on menu trends with industry leaders and experts; and exhibitors throughout the Show that are introducing new and exciting foods and beverages.

In addition, the inaugural IWSB, to be held May 19-20, 2008, is the restaurant and hospitality industry’s first and only professional event focused exclusively on beverage alcohol. It will highlight vintners, distillers and brewers in exhibits and education programming focused on beverage alcohol trends, responsibility and profitability.

IWSB Show-Stopper Martini
2-3 fresh sage leaves
2 ½ oz. micro-distilled gin
3 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
1 tsp. sugar
Ice
Sugared red grapefruit wedge for garnish
 
In a glass, add sage leaves and gin.  Muddle gently, being careful not to bruise the sage too much; you simply want to release the natural oils and flavor into the gin. Allow to marinate for at least one minute. Add ice, ruby red grapefruit juice, and shake in a shaker. Using a cocktail strainer, strain into martini glass. Garnish with a ruby red grapefruit wedge that has been dipped in sugar.

NRA Show Chili with Turkey and Tequila
2 lbs organic ground turkey
1 large can garbanzo beans
1 large can kidney beans
1 large can northern (white) beans
1 sweet onion, diced medium
3 bell peppers­varying colors, diced
Garlic to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 quart chicken stock
5 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup premium silver tequila
1 can kernel corn
Chili powder, to taste
Cayenne Pepper, to taste
1 package tostadas, to thicken chili
For garnish:  thinly sliced scallions, cilantro, and sour cream
 
In a large saucepot or kettle, brown ground turkey. Add onions, peppers, and chopped garlic to sweat.  Add tequila and allow to simmer 5 minutes. Add all diced tomatoes, beans, corn, and chicken stock and allow to simmer for approximately 45 minutes to an hour to insure full flavor melding.  Add crumbled tostadas, one by one, until your chili reaches desired consistency. Make a cilantro cream sauce by blending 8 oz sour cream and approximately ½ bunch of cilantro leaves in food processor.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. For service, ladle chili into bowls, swirl cilantro cream around bowl and top with a sprinkling of scallions. Suggested pairing: Stout, porter or amber boch.

Both recipes were created by John Abels. Photos are available for download by clicking on the link below.

Now in its 89th year, the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals in the Western Hemisphere. The 2008 Show will be held May 17-20, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. The Show attracts 2,000+ exhibiting companies and 74,000 attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 115 countries. More information can be found on the Show Web site at www.restaurant.org/show. For more information on the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, visit www.winespiritsbeer.org.