Event Schedule

Conference Beat™ – SIAL Toronto, April 2019

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SIAL Canada is the largest North American Innovation show that focuses on insight and inspiration for companies dedicated to the food and beverage business. It is one of eight exhibitions developed to extend the reach of SIAL Paris which is widely known as the global forum of food innovation.

 

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Conference Beat™ – Research Chefs Association (RCA), Louisville, KY, March 2019

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The Research Chefs Association (RCA) conference is where new product developers, food scientists and R&D chefs meet to explore, debate, and inspire each other with ideas and techniques that will drive menus and product development in the years to come.

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Conference Beat™ – Fancy Food Show, San Francisco, January 2019

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The Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show is the first major industry forum of the year that attracts professionals in a wide range of business segments including: specialty and gourmet retail stores, supermarkets and foodservice operations. Unique features of the show include special areas dedicated to start-up ventures.

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Conference Beat™ – Ideation Fresh Foodservice Forum, New York, December 2018

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The New York Produce Show and Ideation Fresh Foodservice Forum brought together thought leaders in the domestic and international produce business with leading retailers and restaurateurs to explore what’s hot now and what’s on the horizon for fresh food.  This year’s conference focused on the unique perspectives of different demographic groups related to fresh food and produce.

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Conference Beat™ – Private Label Manufacturers Association PLMA, Chicago, November 2018

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The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) show showcased more than 1,400 suppliers representing almost all consumer product categories, including fresh, frozen, and refrigerated meals, snacks, and beverages available to retailers and wholesalers for private label, store brands, and co-branding.  The PLMA is the perfect show to review at the end of the year because it provides a glimpse into which of the trends spotted through our research and attendance at all of the other shows and conferences of the year are becoming mainstream products.

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Conference Beat™ – SIAL, Paris, October 2018

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SIAL Paris (Salon International de l’Alimentation) is the world’s largest food innovation exhibition, with more than 7,200 international exhibitors from the food industry and 160,000 attendees over five days. Every two years, the expo serves as a source of inspiration for the world food market, where leaders in foodservice, retail grocery and food processing enterprises come to present their latest innovations and predict future industry trends.

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Conference Beat™ – Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Seattle, October 2018

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Members of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) convened in Seattle to taste, explore, and debate the hot topics and latest trends in the food, fine wine and hospitality industry. This year the group released their first annual global trends report.

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Conference Beat™ – National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Las Vegas, October 2018

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Every year the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show attracts more than 23,000 industry professionals who are there to connect, exchange ideas, and spot the hottest new products slated to reach the convenience store market within the next year.

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Conference Beat™ – Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Chicago, IL 2018

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This international conference about the science of food brings together more than 20,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors including food industry, government and academia, where they share the latest research and solutions among R&D, scientific and technical titles. IFT is about so much more than ingredients and processing techniques – it’s about food that changes the world.

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Conference Beat™ – Education Segment Conferences, July 2018 School Nutrition Association and National Association of College & University Food Services

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Education segments, including K-12 and Colleges & Universities, serve some of the most enlightened and demanding consumers in the foodservice industry. Leaders in both markets gathered in Las Vegas at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference (SNA) and in Providence, Rhode Island for the National Association of College & University Food Services National Conference (NACUFS), covering foodservice in self-operated, contract and hybrid schools.

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Conference Beat™ – International Dairy Deli Bakery Association Show (IDDBA), New Orleans, June 2018

The Big Easy welcomed leaders in the dairy, deli and bakery business to learn about the latest products and opportunities for their operations. This food-centric city offered as much inspiration around town as it did on the show floor.

 

Living in an Omni Channel World

Modern consumers have created a culinary lifestyle fueled by 5 meals a day that include a wide range of choices like mini-meals and snacks available from the retail, foodservice and online sources.

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Conference Beat™ – Sweets and Snacks Expo, May 2018

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The Sweets and Snacks Expo drew more than 18,000 attendees and 800 + exhibitors from around the world. The expo continues to grow, with over 350 first time exhibitors at this year’s show. Buyers represent supermarkets, mass merchandisers and specialty retailers who are looking for innovations that can drive business success.

 

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Conference Beat™ – National Restaurant Association Show, May 2018

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The National Restaurant Association (NRA) International Foodservice Marketplace is an annual event where over 2,300 companies from around the world showcase their products to more than 67,000 foodservice professionals. This year’s show, the 99th, was a great place to see the fascinating and forward-thinking trends driving innovation in the foodservice industry.

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Conference Beat™ – SIAL Montreal, May 2018

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SIAL is the global network of trade conferences that focus on innovation, insight and inspiration for companies dedicated to the food and beverage business. The Montreal exposition is the largest food innovation trade show in North America and features exhibiting companies and educational programs for those in all sectors of the food business.

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Conference Beat™ – Worlds of Flavor 20th Annual Conference, Legends of Flavor, Napa Valley, April 2018

For the past 20 years, this conference has explored culinary frontiers and raised thought provoking discussions on global food trends, food ethics and the responsibility of culinary change makers to educate as they entice consumers with the latest food and beverage sensations. Notable at this year’s conference was the large attendance of professionals from college and university foodservice and culinary educators from high schools on a mission to educate, nourish and capture the imaginations of the consumers of tomorrow.

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Hot Spots & Hidden Treasures Restaurant Guide 2018

Hot Spots & Hidden Treasures Restaurant Guide 2018

A CHICAGO CULINARY ADVENTURE

As part of our 30th Pearl Anniversary, we are delighted to share our thirty favorite culinary experiences from the city of Chicago. Check out the pearls of wisdom on each page to get our insider’s opinion of each spot. There are always plenty of hot new restaurants around town, and our 2018 edition features all the new spots you won’t want to miss as well as our tried-and-true favorites. Be sure to make reservations early as all of these places tend to fill up quickly. Cheers!

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Conference Beat™ – Research Chefs Association (RCA), Savannah, Georgia 2018

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The most-attended Research Chefs Association (RCA) conference to date, with more than 1,200 attendees and 140 exhibitors, this is where new product developers, food scientists and R&D chefs gather to find new solutions and insights for the year to come.

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Conference Beat™ – Menu Directions, New Orleans 2018

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Foodservice professionals gather at Menu Directions to share ideas on their businesses and their customers. In its 16th year, this conference is devoted to bringing actionable ideas and insights to foodservice operators in the non-commercial foodservice business.

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Conference Beat™ – International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), New York City 2018

The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference is where food influencers and content creators meet to be inspired and challenged as they examine issues related to food and the impact is has on modern lifestyles and culture. This conference defines the context of culinary conversation for the year ahead.

 

Next Frontier of Food Products

Scalable sustainability will push the boundaries of food systems as we know them today. New product concepts in ideation phase include using lab-grown meat technology to grow endangered species; for example shark fin soup is still culturally relevant but dubious in current sourcing practices. Another idea is a crop rotation cracker: using a different bean or legume in the formulation based on the principle of rotating crops to maintain the longevity of the soil.

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Mindful Dining Study – March 2018

The Mindful Dining Study is the latest research from Culinary Visions Panel’s Mindful Dining Initiative™ project. It surveyed 1,500 U.S. consumers ages 18 and up about their dining attitudes and expectations regarding ethical decisions, responsible business practices, health perceptions, social dynamics, and more. The study explores the conscious choices that drive consumers’ ordering behavior when seeking food outside the home, and finds key discrepancies between the beliefs driving choices made by young adult, adult and senior consumers.

 

Read this study to know more about:

  • How younger consumers’ are seeking out sustainably raised proteins and options they view as ethical
  • How older consumers value friendly, face-to-face service, while younger consumers are more keen on kiosks and touch screens
  • Consumers’ evolving definitions of healthful eating and living, as many seem to be decoding the concept of diets

Conference Beat™ – Winter Fancy Food Show, San Francisco, January 2018

The Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show is the first major food industry forum of the year where buyers and sellers come to see the newest foods, flavors and ingredient trends. With over 1,400 exhibitors from more than 20 countries, this show attracts a wide range of food business segments including: specialty and gourmet retail, supermarkets, mass merchandisers, foodservice operators and distributors.

 

What’s In and What’s Out

Diets are out and culinary lifestyles are in.  Lifestyle diet choices are driving innovation.

 

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Conference Beat™ – Ideation Fresh Foodservice Forum, New York, December 2017

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The New York Produce Show and Ideation Fresh Foodservice Forum brought together thought leaders in the domestic and international produce business with leading retailers and restaurateurs to explore what’s hot now and what’s on the horizon for fresh food.

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Senior Food and Lifestyles Study – December 2017

This latest study from Culinary Visions® Panel, explores the dining expectations, attitudes and tendencies of senior consumers. The study interviewed 500 senior consumers over the age of 55 in the United States and these included participants living in independent senior communities, assisted living, skilled nursing care and life care. Seniors not currently residing in a senior community were asked to consider care preferences for themselves as well as a friend or loved one. Topics included senior community selection criteria, foodservice characteristics and preferences, senior community perceptions and senior preferences.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • The dining expectation of “new” seniors – seniors that are not yet living in senior communities – compared to those already residing there.
  • How fresh foods are craved by “new” seniors and how this interest will impact the menus at senior living communities.
  • What “new” seniors want when it comes to dining styles and snacking options.

Conference Beat™ – Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Newport Beach, CA, October 2017

Members of Les Dames d’Escoffier International gathered in Newport Beach, California for their international conference. This is a diverse group of culinary professionals in the food, fine wine and hospitality industry. It was a week of tasting, exploring and debating the hot topics and latest trends. There are always lively discussions and rarely unanimity on any issue when this group convenes.

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Conference Beat™ – National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show, Chicago, October 2017

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Every year the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show attracts nearly 24,000 industry professionals. The attendees converge on the show floor and see the new trends, products and technology available for convenience stores.

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Ethics on the Go Study – October 2017

Ethics On the Go is Culinary Visions Panel’s latest study in their Mindful Dining Initiative™ project. It surveyed 1,500 US consumers’ attitudes on ethical decisions that impact their dining choices of convenience and portable foods outside the home. The study finds that while all consumers care about ethical eating, consumers under 35 years pay the closest attention to responsible practices behind menus. Consumers under 35 years have a deep interest in how their meals are made which indicates that food choices aren’t just about the body anymore – they are about the mind too.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • How consumers view “trendy” restaurants as ones who commit to ethical practices
  • How age demographics separate consumers’ opinions on organic and ethically produced foods
  • Consumers’ willingness to pay a premium price for ethically produced snacks, as well as their desire for more ethical convenience items

Conference Beat™ – Foodscape, Chicago, August 2017

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The future of food was the focus of this conference, where industry leaders and entrepreneurs with cutting edge new businesses met to share fresh ideas and new thinking on food and technology.

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Conference Beat™ – International Dairy Deli Bakery Association Show, Anaheim, June 2017

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Leaders in the dairy, deli and bakery business gathered in Anaheim to learn about the latest products and opportunities for their operations. Conversations focused on solutions to the challenge of consistently delivering fresh, healthful and delicious food to consumers.

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Conference Beat™ – Sweets & Snacks Expo: Chicago, May 2017

The Sweets and Snacks Expo draws more than17,000 attendees and 760 exhibitors from around the world; buyers represent supermarkets, mass merchandisers and specialty retailers, who delight in the snacks and confections at almost every booth. The expo continues to grow, with over 200 first time exhibitors at this year’s show. It’s a captivating place to spot emerging trends in the sweet and savory snacks market.

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Conference Beat™ – National Restaurant Show: Chicago, May 2017

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The National Restaurant Association (NRA) International Foodservice Marketplace is an annual event where over 2,000 companies from around the world showcase their products to more than 45,000 foodservice professionals. This year’s show illuminated trends that are sure to have a lasting impact on the
foodservice industry.

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France Global Dining Study – May 2017

This French Consumer Dining Study is the latest report published by Culinary Visions Panel in its 2017 series of Global Dining Studies. Concurrent with SIAL Innovation Conference in Paris, Culinary Visions Panel surveyed over 1,000 French consumers about their attitudes and behaviors related to meal choices at home, in the workplace and at restaurants. The study finds that French consumers have high and varied dining expectations when it comes to healthfulness, such as desiring healthier snack options as well as dining choices that are both healthy and delicious.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • How the importance of food trust influences French consumers’ decisions at restaurants and supermarket delis.
  • French consumers’ interest in ethnic foods and their openness to try new flavors and dishes.
  • The comparison between consumers in France and America when it comes to dining behavior at restaurants, in the workplace and at home.

Mexico Global Dining Study – April 2017

This study is the third in the North American dining series where over 1,000 Mexican consumers were surveyed about their attitudes and behaviors related to meal choices at home, in the workplace, at restaurants and at the supermarket/deli. Consumers were asked about their trust in restaurant dining, their view on healthfulness and how convenience plays a role in their lives. Responses from this survey were compared to the US and Canada Consumer Dining Studies to reveal how consumers in all three countries are similar and different in their dining habits.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • How Mexico is a family centric dining culture, both in and away from the home
  • The regional cuisines that are trending in Mexico and how these can influence global menus
  • The differences between consumers in Mexico, the US and Canada when it comes to compromising taste for healthfulness

Food Market Culture Report – March 2017

1,039 consumers were surveyed around the United States regarding their expectations, attitudes and behaviors when visiting various food markets. Consumers were asked about their perspectives on a range of markets from farmers markets to food halls. Specific aspects of the market experience that appeal to consumers are the collaborative energy, extensive variety of vendors and social experience that offers a little something for everyone.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • How food markets make the connection between consumer and vendor, so that food trust is established
  • The comparison between consumers’ experience with famers markets and food halls as opposed to supermarkets and delis
  • The importance of food markets for multi-tasking lifestyles

Deli Destinations – February 2017

The subject of this 2017 study, explores the characteristics that draw consumers to make certain food venues their destinations when dining at and away from home. Over 1,000 consumers throughout the U.S. were surveyed to identify aspects of shopping in the deli that make it unique, crave-able and worth the visit (or wait). Consumers were asked about the importance of convenience, the need for unique deli options and the draw of food markets as destinations.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • The type of products that attract consumers to the deli as a destination
  • The reasons consumers are drawn to food markets & food halls, and how these experiences can be brought to the deli
  • How consumers crave restaurant quality at the deli and how this quality standard influences supermarket choice

Hot Spots & Hidden Treasures Restaurant Guide 2017

We are delighted to share some of our favorite culinary experiences from the richly diverse neighborhoods of Chicago. There are always plenty of hot new restaurants around town, and our 2017 edition includes a special section on Food Halls that you may enjoy exploring as this trend heats up around the country. Our recent consumer survey from Culinary Visions® Panel revealed that 60% of the consumers surveyed like to roam around with a beverage and absorb the whole environment of the market. We think you will too.

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Conference Beat™ – Research Chefs Association (RCA): San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 2017

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The Research Chefs Association (RCA) is a conference where R&D chefs, product developers and food scientists gather to find new solutions, innovative techniques and development insights for the year to come.

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Conference Beat™ – International Association of Culinary Professionals: Louisville, March 2017


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The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) is a conference where food writers, cookbook authors and a wide range of culinary professionals gather to be inspired as they discuss and debate issues related to the impact of food on modern culture and lifestyles. This conference establishes the framework for the culinary conversation of the year ahead.

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Conference Beat™ – Fancy Food Show: San Francisco, January 2017

 

The Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show is traditionally the first major food industry forum of the year where buyers and sellers come to see the newest foods, flavors and ingredient trends.  With over 80,000 products on display from 1,400 companies, this show attracts a wide range of food business segments including: specialty and gourmet retail, supermarkets, mass merchandisers, foodservice operators and distributors.

 

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Conference Beat™ – Private Label Manufacturers Association: Chicago, November 2016

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Over 12,000 food business professionals attended the 36th annual Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) tradeshow. The 2016 tradeshow was one of the largest in its history and featured more than 1,300 exhibitors from 40 countries. PLMA is largely focused on retail products, however there continues to be a growing trend of restaurants and chefs interested in building a retail presence through packaging and distributing their products for foodservice.

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OxyModern – Cultural Contradictions Driving Foodservice Trends – September 2016

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Insight from a wide range of experts working in varied creative disciplines that are important to modern consumer lifestyles was used to form the basis of exploration for this year’s trend report. What emerged from this inquiry was awareness of the impact cultural contradictions have on trends. For any major trends indentified, equally powerful counter trends appeared. Following this initial exploration, over 2,000 consumers were surveyed about their dining experiences away from home.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • Consumers who crave foods that remind them of childhood but also admire sophisticated flavor combinations
  • The desire for local, sustainable food is equal to the need for cultural cuisines with unique ingredients
  • How meals are expected to be both healthy and delicious as well as restaurant fare that is luxuriously indulgent

Global Dining Study – August 2016

More than 3,000 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada were surveyed about their attitudes and behaviors related to meal choices at home, in the workplace and at restaurants. Consumer trust in restaurants and supermarket delis was explored, along with the desire for healthfulness at and away from the home and dining in the workplace. All 3 countries displayed answers that reflected current dining trends while providing insight for future improvements.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • The similarities and differences in food culture among the US, Canada and the UK and how this knowledge can lead to greater success in the future
  • How food trust is pushing restaurants and supermarket delis to offer quality products to consumers
  • The importance of healthfulness and indulgence when dining out verses dining at home

Weeknight Dining Study – June 2016

This consumer study explored opportunities to create desirable and affordable meal options to make everyday experiences exceptional. Weeknight dinner is an opportunity for food marketers across all segments of the food industry, from grocers to convenience stores.  Consumers were asked about their weeknight dining experience (Sunday – Thursday), their attitudes toward cooking at home and their interest in purchasing meal kits.

 

Read this Study to know more about:

  • Consumers’ desire for easier options like meal kits to help create satisfying meals at home during the week
  • How consumers define cooking, and how their need for culinary adventure is driving the development of new offerings
  • The biggest obstacles consumers face when grocery shopping and preparing meals at home

Conference Beat™ – Les Dames d’Escoffier International: Washington D.C., October 2016

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Les Dames d’Escoffier, a diverse group of culinary professionals in the food, fine wine and hospitality business, met in Washington D.C. to explore the continuing evolution of consumers’ taste for global foods and flavors and the desire for local and sustainable foods. It was a week of tasting, exploring and debating the hot topics with lively discussions.

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Conference Beat™ – NACS: Atlanta, October 2016

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Buyers and sellers meet at the National Association of Convenience Stores Show to see the latest foodservice programs and equipment, retail candy and snacks, operational developments, merchandise, technology, and fuel equipment and related services. Nearly 24,000 attendees converged on the show floor to network, learn, buy and sell.

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Conference Beat™ – SIAL: Paris, October 2016

 

 

SIAL (Salon International de l’Alimentation) is the largest food innovation conference in the world, housing over 7,000 exhibitors throughout five consecutive days. Every two years, the Parc des Expositions de Paris-Nord Villepinte (just outside the city limits) is transformed into a city of culinary exploration. Leaders in foodservice, retail grocery and food ingredient businesses come to present their latest product innovations and anticipate future industry related trends.

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Conference Beat™ – Institute of Food Technologists Expo: Chicago, July 2016

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The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual conference attracts over 17,000 experts from scientific, academic, foodservice and technological communities. Professionals gather to explore industry trends, innovations in technology and applications which affect the global food system.

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Conference Beat™ – NACUFS: Anaheim, July 2016

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The National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) conference allows foodservice directors to discover new products that will attract lifetime customers and uncover trends that will be important to foodservice consumers over the next decade.

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Conference Beat™ – SNA National Conference: San Antonio, July 2016

K-12 School Foodservice Professionals gathered in San Antonio for the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Annual National Conference (ANC). These experts honed in on topics surrounding new products, services and programs to gain further education on their school’s meal curriculum.

 

Global Tastes

School Foodservice Directors from across the country discussed the challenges of how to deliver satisfying and culturally relevant meals to a diverse student body. A few suggestions included: featuring a food specific culture each week, engaging parents, providing lots of choices and sampling products.

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Conference Beat™ – NeoCon: Chicago, June 2016

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NeoCon is widely recognized as one of the most influential trade shows for commercial design. This 48th annual conference temporarily houses over 500 leading companies within the commercial design industry, and attracts over 50,000 design professionals and business consultants. It is an important show to spot cutting edge trends in workplace design.

 

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Conference Beat™ – National Restaurant Show: Chicago, May 2016

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The National Restaurant Association (NRA) annual International Foodservice Marketplace is an annual event where 2,000+ companies showcase their work to more than 63,000 chefs, buyers, designers and operators. This year’s show was a great place to see enduring trends.

 

Industry Highlights

The foodservice industry is poised to grow 3.2% in 2016, according to the NRA Economic Forecast. Retail platforms and hospital/nursing foodservices can expect to see the highest growth in 2016 at 5.8% and 5.2% respectively.

 

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Conference Beat™ – Sweets & Snacks Expo: Chicago, May 2016

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The Sweets and Snacks Expo is a mesmerizing experience as professionals wander through the McCormick Center with their bag of sweet and tasty snacks. This year’s show continues to grow with nearly 17,000 attendees and 750 exhibitors from around the world, a 20% increase from the previous year. It’s an exciting place to spot emerging trends in the sweet and savory snacks industry. Buyers representing supermarkets, mass merchandisers and specialty retailers all attend the show.

 

Business Dynamics

Confectionery items account for $35 billion in retail sales according to the National Confectioners Association. Most U.S. Consumers eat candy about twice a week and average 40 calories a day from candy.

 

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Conference Beat™ – Edible London, May 2016

Les Dames d’Escoffier London create a bi-annual culinary symposium and tour of the London and international food scene exclusively for members of Les Dames d’Escoffier.  The event offers the opportunity to experience, discuss and debate emerging global food trends.

Modern Cooking

Today’s over-scheduled, over-programmed families appreciate meals made at home, but also crave the convenience of meal kits, simple and flavorful recipes, and speed scratch ingredients.  In the UK, chilled meals that can be picked up on the way home from work provide quick and delicious meal satisfaction.

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Conference Beat™ – NAMA: Chicago, April 2016

This is the meeting where vendors and suppliers in office coffee service, micro-marts, and vending come together to build relationships and grow their hospitality business.  The lingo is somewhat different in this segment, where operators act as distributors and consumers are everyone who populates workplaces nationwide.  NAMA is the association representing the $25 billion U.S. vending and refreshment service industry, with more than 1,250 companies.

 

Business Dynamics

Refreshment services range from small businesses providing packaged snacks and drip coffee, to large corporations offering sophisticated specialty coffee brewing systems and catering service to keep employees engaged and in the workplace.

 

Micro-marts are gaining momentum in lieu of traditional vending, allowing for more consumer choice, fresh foods, and flexibility of payment and product selection.

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Hot Spots & Hidden Treasures – Chicago Restaurant Recommendations 2016

The Bird is the Word

From hot to honey, restaurants dedicated to crispy, brined and juicy fried chicken are emerging all over Chicago. Focused menus highlighting the bird and not much else are to be expected at most of these hot spots.

 

“Fried chicken is the next comfort-food favorite to be swept up in our food renaissance…New concepts focused around fried chicken as a flagship item differentiate with signature touches and affordable price points.” – Sharon Olson, Culinary Visions

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Conference Beat™ – SIAL Canada: Montreal, April 2016

SIAL is the global network of trade conferences that focus on innovation, insight and inspiration for companies dedicated to the food and beverage business.  There are eight major shows throughout the world that draw over 300,000 visitors from 200 countries. The Montreal exposition is the largest food innovation trade show in North America, and features exhibiting companies and educational programs for those in the gourmet retail, deli and foodservice sectors of the business.

Innovation Insight

Interest in trying new products is high with North American consumers – 78% of Canadians and 76% of Americans like to try new food and beverage products.

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Conference Beat™ – Fancy Food Show: San Francisco, January 2015

The 40th Winter Fancy Food Show continues to thrive with more than 19,000 attendees and 1,400 exhibitors from around the world. Buyers attending the show represented many of the nation’s leading gourmet and specialty food retailers as well as major supermarkets, mass merchandisers and foodservice industry segments including college and university, healthcare, airlines and restaurants.

 

The largest food categories represented at the show were cheese, meat/poultry/seafood and chips/pretzels/snacks. The fastest growing exhibitor categories are nut/seed butters, eggs and frozen desserts according to the Specialty Food Association.

 

Gourmet Retail Market Dynamics:

  • Conscious capitalism characterized many of the exhibiting companies that were proud to showcase their efforts to make a positive difference for those involved in bringing their products to market.
  • Incubators and accelerators are helping entrepreneurs move out of their kitchens to meet the demands of consumers’ heightened interest in small batch producers.
  • The movement toward mindful dining has consumers rethinking indulgence with a healthy perspective.

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Conference Beat™ – Private Label Manufacturers Association Store Brands Reality Trade Show, Chicago November 2014

It was another record breaking year for the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) show. 2014 was the largest in the association’s 34 year history; over 4,250 visitors and 1,335 exhibitors.

 

The global presence of private brands was very much in evidence at this show. The Idea Supermarket® showcased products across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

 

Private label brand growth continues to outpace national brands. According to The Nielsen Company, private label unit share in supermarkets has reached 23.4% and dollar share is now at 19.4%.   Total store brand sales reached $112 billion last year.

 

Although this show is largely about retail products, there has been a growing representation of companies who package foodservice products and work with chefs and restaurant brands interested in building a retail presence.

 

Private Label Market Dynamics:

  • Successful companies in the private label business are moving from a quick follower strategy to a greater focus on innovation
  • Understanding shopper needs is at the core for successful brands
  • New product focus is evolving to greater specialization to capture niche markets

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Conference Beat™ – Les Dames d’Escoffier International Conference Boston, November 2014

Members of Les Dames d’Escoffier International gathered in Boston for their international conference. This is a diverse group of culinary professionals in the food, fine wine and hospitality industry. It was a week of tasting, exploring and debating the hot topics and latest trends. There are always lively discussions and rarely unanimity on any issue when this group convenes.

 

Hot Topics Among Culinary Thought Leaders:

  • Old Fashioned is in vogue including heritage recipes, heirloom produce, ancient grains and vintage methods.
  • Sustainability is the imperative for farmers and fishermen.
  • Accessibility of high quality food as a basic human right.
  • Storytelling about flavor memories and food experiences with life changing impact.

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Conference Beat™ – National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Annual Conference & Show – Las Vegas October 2014

A glimpse of the attendees wearing everything from suits to blue jeans at this major national conference is immediate evidence of the diversity of offerings found in today’s convenience stores.

 

The U.S. convenience store industry has over 151,000 stores and accounts for nearly $700 billion in sales. More and more time-starved consumers are turning to convenience retail operations for on-the-go meals and snacks. The industry continues to evolve fron gas stations that happen to sell food to food retailers that happen to sell gas

  • While convenience stores have offered fresh, prepared foods for years, it is only over
    the last decade that the trend has accelerated. Food prepared on-site accounts for more than 62% of total foodservice sales.
  • The trend toward quality fresh food programs and trusted brands continues to grow.
  • Foodservice can deliver new customers inside the store, and at a higher profit level
    than gas. Read more

Conference Beat™ – Natural Products Expo East – Baltimore, Maryland September 2014

Over 24,000 natural food enthusiasts attended this festival of conscious capitalism.  There is no mistaking that this is not a “big food” show.  Even the largest exhibitors are featuring collections of brands and products all designed for a unique consumer target. Everyone has a story about food, family and the passion that ignited their business.

 

Expo Highlights:

  • Consistent double digit growth in all categories of organic and natural foods brought 400 new exhibitors among the 1,200 that were present.
  • Accessibility of healthful food is on the minds of many attending this show that want to find a solution to serving the 24 million Americans who live in food deserts.
  • The politics of food and government regulation is a hot topic and the focal point of the Natural Products Association that works on behalf of the companies in the natural products industry.

Read more


Conference Beat™ – Flavor Experience – Newport Beach, California August 2014

Chefs and foodservice professionals from many segments of the industry and their food & beverage suppliers gather for this annual conference about the business of flavor and innovation to learn about new ways to delight their customers.  It is a non-stop flavor and tasting experience.

 

What’s New In The Business of Flavor:

  • Fresh and healthy continues to inspire menu development, yet indulgence worth the splurge is back in vogue.
  • New flavor experiences from Asia, the Americas and Mediterranean countries continue to captivate.
  • The quest for authentic experiences is driving a reinvention of “eatertainment.”
  • Forget dinner; it is always snack time in America. Read more

Conference Beat™ – International Dairy Deli Bakery Association Annual Seminar and Expo – Denver, Colorado June 2014

Leaders in the dairy, deli and bakery business gathered for the association’s 50th anniversary.  Over 9,000 professionals and more than 1,500 exhibitors gathered to be inspired by keynote speakers and learn about the latest new products and opportunities for deli and bakery operations.  Conversations focused on the challenges and opportunities of consistently delivering healthy, interesting, fresh and delicious food to consumers.

 

Read more


Conference Beat™ – National Restaurant Association 2014 – The International Foodservice Marketplace

Chicago, May 18-20, 2014 — The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show has been quietly rebranding their national conference the International Foodservice Marketplace as the foodservice industry and the audience for this show has evolved.  The show has indeed become a marketplace of buyers walking the aisles with their shopping lists, designers, and Read more


Hot Spots & Hidden Treasures – Chicago Restaurant Recommendations 2014

New Hot Spots

CICCHETTI

671 N St Clair St
312-642-1800

www.cicchettirestaurant.com

A focused Venetian-inspired menu sets Chef Michael Sheerin’s (Trencherman) second concept apart.  Small plates honor the floating City with house-cured sardines, crackly flatbreads, and a bold tomato-chili seafood stew brimming with shellfish and puffed wild rice. Desserts include Read more


Conference Beat™ – International Pizza Expo – March 2014

The International Pizza Expo draws over 7,000 pizza makers who come to see the latest products, techniques and business technologies among the 475 exhibiting companies.  Some also come to compete in the pizza challenge that includes Read more


Conference Beat™ – Culinary Change Maker Conferences: Chefs and Culinary Professionals – March 2014

Several notable conferences filled the early weeks of March; the Research Chefs Association (RCA) held their annual conference in Portland, Oregon and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) and the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) both held national conferences in Chicago.

 

Those who attend these conferences are the culinary change makers on the forefront of innovation gathering to discuss and debate the trends.  Research and development chefs meet to explore, debate, and inspire each other with ideas and techniques that will drive menus and product development in the year to come and beyond.

 

Here are some of the hot topics of discussion at these conferences: Read more


Culinary Educators Dish on The Next Generation of Chefs

New survey reveals the focus of today’s culinary education 

 

(Chicago, March 20, 2014) – A new study by Culinary Visions® Panel surveyed culinary educators and students about topics, techniques and trends that are being taught in culinary schools around the country.

 
Culinary instructors felt that local and sustainable are the menu development imperatives for today’s chef to understand.  Classic preparation methods are important, yet modern cooking techniques are also on the curriculum.  Today’s culinary students are learning about traditional and unconventional foodservice venues and working with ingredients from around the world to gain an understanding of authentic ethnic and ethnic inspired foods.  Students are also being challenged to create delicious menus that hit important health and wellness goals.

 

Following are trends industry professionals believed were important to culinary students:

  • Practicing local and sustainable menu development
  • Understanding classic European cuisine and modern cooking techniques
  • Creating delicious menus that hit health and wellness goals
  • Understanding unconventional venues like food trucks and pop-ups
  • Working with a global pantry of ingredients to prepare a wide range of ethnic offerings

 

Culinary instructors and students were asked to identify the ingredients they cannot live without.  They agreed on the top four items:  salt, garlic, olive oil and butter.  Completing the list of the top five, instructors noted fresh herbs and students chose pepper.

 

“Culinary educators are in a unique position to have a significant impact on the menus of tomorrow through the knowledge and passion they share with their students.  Understanding their perspectives give us a glimpse of trends to come,” said Sharon Olson, executive director of Culinary Visions Panel.

 

When culinary students were asked about their favorite meals to prepare, tried and true comfort foods and holiday meals were mentioned by almost everyone.  Thanksgiving dinner, lasagna, braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and soup were the most widely noted favorite meals.


Conference Beat™ – Winter Fancy Food Show – Executive Summary

San Fransisco, CA. – The Winter Fancy Food Show continues to grow, showing three consecutive years of solid growth, with more than 18,000 attendees and 1,300 exhibitors representing over 35 countries and 14 international pavilions this year alone. New international exhibitors were from Uruguay, Israel, South Korea, India and Thailand. There were close to 100 first time exhibitors with a diverse range of handcrafted products including Read more


Mindful Meal Decisions Drive Food Trends for 2014

trends graphic 2014

 

(Chicago, December 2013) Mindfulness was a common theme among foodservice professionals and consumer foodies when surveyed by the Culinary Visions® Panel in 2013.  During the year insight was collected from primary research with over 3,500 consumers and analyzed along with research gathered from culinary professional groups and Read more


Conference Beat™ – Trend Setter and Thought Leader Conferences

Executive Summary

Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) Conference

International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) Conference

Two conferences that attract the food industry’s opinion leaders convened during two consecutive weeks this month.  LDEI was held in Austin, a city well known for Latin flavors.  IFEC was held in Portland, Oregon, the hometown of James Beard and a city that celebrates local food and beverage and responsible production.  These diverse groups of culinary professionals in the food, fine wine and Read more


Conference Beat™ – International Dairy Deli Bakery Association Annual Seminar and Expo

Orlando, FL – This annual conference brings together leaders in the dairy deli and bakery business. 2013 was a record setting year with attendance of 9,000 professionals and more than 1,700 exhibitors. Products, programs and conversations focused on the challenges and Read more


Conference Beat™ – National Restaurant Association – Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show

Chicago, May 18-21, 2013 – The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show like every year, provided a lot to be excited about.  The show brings together operators across all segments of the industry.  While talk between attendees focused on a number of the events away from McCormick Place, the NRA Show exhibit hall still delivered the latest Read more


Conference Beat™ – Sweets & Snacks Expo

 

Chicago, May 21-23, 2013 – The same day the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant Show was wrapping up the Sweets & Snacks Expo was gearing up at the other side of McCormick Place in Chicago.  The energy at the Sweets & Snacks Expo was a remarkable contrast with Read more


Healthy Kids Healthy Flavors: National Invitational Leadership Summit

Culinary Institute of America – San Antonio, Texas

Sharon and Tami

May 7-9, 2013 – This conference is a national initiative to improve the health of children and young people through food education, culinary strategy and flavor insight.  About 200 participants gathered at this collaboration of leaders in school foodservice and Read more


Conference Beat™ – Refrigerated Foods Association Annual Conference – Miami

Leaders in the refrigerated foods business meet annually to network, share ideas and talk with industry experts in a wide range of disciplines.  Following are program highlights about Read more


Conference Beat™ – Winter Fancy Food Show 2013

This year’s Winter Fancy Food Show boasted another year of record attendance expecting more than 18,000 attendees.  More than 1,000 of the 1,300 exhibitors were Read more


San Francisco Bakery Tour

The neighborhood bakeries of San Francisco are a delicious expression of this city’s cultural and culinary diversity.  Food has a unique ability to bring people together and bakeries create welcoming warmth for their customers in this city.  Many of the neighborhood bakeries are Read more


The Global Menu 2013 And Beyond

Leadership Summit Identifies Global Menu Trends for 2013

 

Panama City PANAMA, December 11, 2012 – Grupo Olson and Global Business Alliance announced 2013 trend predictions at a press conference at Le Meridién Panama City, Panama.  Results are based on reviews of restaurants and menus from around the world and in-depth interviews with chefs, restaurateurs and consumers in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Read more


SIAL – The Global Food Marketplace

SIAL is a global food show and its focus is on innovation in the food and beverage businesses.  It covers all sectors of the food industry in eight expansive pavilions where the exposition center just outside of Paris transforms into a virtual city of Read more


Consumers Curate 2013 Food Trends

                                           

(Chicago, October 2012) Culinary Visions® Panel collected insight from foodservice professionals, scoured more than twenty trade conferences and surveyed over 3,000 consumer foodies to get their take on the foods and Read more


Culinary Visions® Panel Survey Explores The Appeal of Invisibly Healthy™ Entrées

Casual diners are most likely to order foods they are familiar with even when faced with choices they perceive to be healthier, according to Read more


The Flavor Experience 2012

The annual Flavor Experience conference brings together leading chain operators and their food & beverage suppliers.  Conference sessions include the latest consumer research, menu ideas and hands-on experiences. The conference experience also includes Read more


Foodservice At Retail Exchange (FARE) Annual Conference

FARE brings together operators and suppliers once a year to gather and discuss the changes, challenges and choices facing foodservice across retail channels. FARE attendees include foodservice operators in grocery, convenience, drug/mass, recreation, college and university and Read more


International Dairy Deli Bakery Association Seminar & Expo

The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) show is the annual gathering of deli and bakery executives from a wide range of retail operations.  The composition of the audience has diversified considerably beyond the traditional supermarket audience it has always drawn to include convenience stores, warehouse stores, supercenters and Read more


The National Restaurant Show Low Down

(Chicago, May 14) The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, which took place on May 5 and ended on May 8,  once again proved to be the show that brings together operators across all segments of the industry.  While talk between attendees focused on a number of the events away from McCormick Place, the NRA Show exhibit hall Read more


Survey Reveals Foodies’ Flavor Secrets

Essentials of Flavor Survey Identifies Consumer Flavor Preferences.

(Chicago, April 24) – Adventurous diners, often called foodies, are significantly more likely to choose menu items with bitter, sour and umami flavors, according to the results of a new Culinary Visions® Panel survey.  The survey explored over 500 consumers’ preferences for all five flavors, including sweet and salty.  The Culinary Visions Panel defines a foodie as Read more


2012 Restaurant Recommendations

 

Every year before the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show we scour the streets of our beloved city in search of the latest and greatest restaurants Chicago has to offer.  Also included in the mix are old time favorites and Read more


NYC Cocktail Hour

 

We recently visited New York City while attending the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference, and took it upon ourselves to research one of our 2012 trends:  “Rethinking the Drink.”  The cocktail scene in New York City is nothing short of impressive.  From speakeasies to posh lounges, you will never leave feeling thirsty.  The creations that mixologist are shaking up are imaginative, classic and Read more


Fashion of Food: Trends & Insights

 

(Chicago, April 5) Olson Communications attended the annual International Association of Culinary Professionals conference (IACP) last week where food, fashion and media connected at this gathering of culinary professionals in New York City.  The discussions were charged with passionate and often disparate beliefs on food, fashion and Read more


Survey Reveals Popularity of Ethnic Salads

Mediterranean Salads Top The List When Casual Diners Seek Change

 

(Chicago, March 20, 2012) – A Mediterranean-style salad holds the most appeal as a new flavor for diners at casual dining restaurants, according to Read more


The Dish on Catering

(Chicago, March 2) Olson Communications attended the annual Catersource show in Las Vegas this past week to uncover latest trends in catering.  Catersource is the leading catering-specific tradeshow in the U.S. that features food, equipment, serving ware, and professional services.  Caterers can see creative concepts and Read more


San Francisco: The Ultimate Gelato/Ice Cream Tour

Gelateria Naia

520 Columbus Ave.

San Francisco, CA 94133

 

The founders of Gelateria Naia are three friends who traveled all over the world and everywhere they went, they had to try the gelato. On their gelato adventure they learned from master gelato artisans in Italy.  And, after trying everything, they found that there are only two simple components to an outstanding gelato: pure, natural ingredients and small, and artisanal batches. Read more


Study Maps Casual Diner Preferences

 

(Chicago, January 24) – America’s casual diners like their burgers and pizzas prepared traditionally and are less likely to order ethnic variations, according to a Culinary Visions™ Panel study done by Chicago-based Olson Communications Read more


Foodies Speak Out on the Trends

 

(Chicago, January 17) Culinary Visions™ Panel has surveyed over 1,500 foodies to get their unique perspective on what’s hot, what’s not and what’s next.  Foodies don’t always represent mainstream thinking, but they are willing try new foods and flavors and they are more than willing to share their experiences with friends and family.  They can be the trend setters or the fad busters depending upon their reactions.  Based on recent Culinary Visions Panel surveys, here is a glimpse of their taste for 2012. Read more


Diners Saying Olé! to More Mexican Food

Americans’ Love Affair With Mexican And Mexican American Foods Is Expanding While South American Fare Increasingly Piques Their Interests

 

(Chicago, November 10) – When it comes to Latin cuisines, Americans are holding true to familiar Mexican and Mexican American foods, according to Culinary Visions™ Panel studies done by Chicago-based Olson Communications. Read more


Casual Diners Respond to Invisibly Healthy Fare

 

Survey reveals great tasting, invisibly healthy menu concepts are enticing, when promoted on taste rather than healthfulness.

(Chicago, August 10) – A new Culinary Visions Panel™ survey finds more evidence that casual restaurant diners are enticed by invisibly healthy menu items that sound delicious and indulgent.  Chicago-based Olson Communications created 16 invisibly healthy menu concepts and asked consumers to rate how likely they would be to order each item.  Although every item was healthy by design, consumers rated those they perceived as the most indulgent as their favored choices. Read more


Keeping it Real

New research reveals consumer and chef insights on the New Simplicity in eating

 

(CHICAGO, March 16) – Americans may not want their food plain, but they sure like it simple. Read more