Staying abreast of the latest changes in consumer food and drink preferences as well as catering news and innovations can give you a leg up on the competition. Sometimes there’s nothing like networking with industry peers and hearing directly from the experts to find out the next big trend. Here are 25 catering conferences in 2017 for you to consider.
Start the year off right by attending the Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Supply Show of the Southeast, which is in its 41st year in 2017. There’s still time to sign up for a booth. While this show does offer a lot for hotel professionals, there’s also a focus on foodservice, so caterers, chefs and restaurant owners will feel right at home. Browse new industry products and rub elbows with others in the industry.
While sure, attendees can visit the Boston Wine Expo to enjoy a selection of its nearly 2,000 wines, there’s also an educational factor at play with sommeliers on hand at the Grand Tasting WINE Bar to discuss all there is to know about the drink. With winery owners, beverage managers, sommeliers and caterers encouraged to attend, industry networking opportunities also abound.
For two jam-packed days, the Marriott Wardman Park becomes home to USBevX, a new conference for all things beverages. Professionals involved in aspects of manufacturing and selling drinks, including packagers and brewers, will be present. Come be a part of The Quality Revolution (the theme for this year’s event), which includes “new ‘quality driven’ trends in the marketplace and their expected impact on the overall wine and beverage category.”
The IACP hosts annual conferences where speakers are invited to talk about various themes. The themes for next year’s event include cuisine classification, food technology and food and beverage trends. Although the cutoff date for speakers to sign up has passed, caterers should still keep this event on their radar, as it’s a great chance to learn.
NYC convention hall Javits Center is the home of the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York, an annual event for east coast caterers. Mingle with 16,000 other foodservice experts and share your tips for success. You can also fill your stomach here, as there’s a Japan Pavilion, Taste NY & Craft Beverage Showcase and a US Pastry Competition.
Offering caterers the chance to get their hands on upcoming products and discover the biggest trends in the food industry, Catersource is certainly worth attending. There are dozens of seminars and workshops to check out. Caterers may wish to consider getting a booth to bring more attention to their brand.
Another way to get people talking about your catering business is by attending the Midwest Foodservice Expo. Not only can you network with nearly 8,000 foodservice professionals, but you can also attend event-sponsored dinners at popular Milwaukee restaurants. There’s still room on the floor if you want to register as an exhibitor.
Celebrate the all-important caffeinated beverage at Coffee Fest, which take place in:
No matter which of the three events you attend, you’re guaranteed to pick up a new coffee-serving technique or two. Do check out the competitions, like America’s Best Cold Brew or the Latte Art World Championship Open.
You don’t have to live in Boston to appreciate good seafood, although it is the home of the Seafood Expo North America. Once called the International Boston Seafood Show/Seafood Processing America, caterers who want to nail logistics and freight shipping for frozen seafood or find new ways to store and serve frozen fish should join the more than 1,000 exhibitors.
Whether for kids’ parties, informal luncheons or lighthearted corporate events, there’s always room for pizza somewhere on a caterer’s menu. Surround yourself with pizza pros at The International Pizza Expo. Seminars and classes teach everything from making pizza to managing one’s own pizzeria. There will also be keynote speeches, baking demonstrations and pizza cook-offs.
Of course, catering conferences aren’t just limited to the United States. In Hamburg, Germany, there’s the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo, at which nearly 4,000 food experts from all over the world will be attending. If you’re making the trip, you might as well register for a booth at the show to make the most of the experience.
The health of consumers is of the utmost importance to a caterer, so it might be a good idea to check out the Food Safety Summit in Illinois. Registration is still open for those who want to speak, exhibit or just attend as a visitor. The event, which started in 2010 and is free to attend, will focus on overcoming safety hurdles in food prep.
The National Restaurant Association’s convention may be a bit more restaurant-centric, but all food pros are invited to attend. McCormick Place in Chicago will fill up with nearly 500,000 attendees for showcases, recipe demonstrations and talks on the Internet of Things. It’s still not too late for your own catering company to make an appearance.
For those who want to start serving candy and snacks at their catering events, there’s the Sweet and Snacks Expo at Chicago’s McCormick Place (the same location as the NRA Show). You can book your own table space, where you’ll be surrounded by food professionals representing more than 20 countries. The event expanded in 2016, jumping 22 percent in attendance, enough to warrant building more space for the 750 (and counting) exhibitors.
For three days, you can absorb lessons at Foodservice Australia’s National Restaurant Conference in Melbourne. Attendees and exhibitors alike get to partake in a networking lunch and industry roundtable, hear keynote speeches and masterclasses from leading chefs and learn about social media tactics as well as business and tech tips.
The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery-Association (IDDBA) presents IDDBA 17. The organization expects nearly 100,000 people to stop by to check out its Show & Sell Center (home to interactive exhibits and workshops), attend seminars and connect with nearly 2,000 exhibitors involved in the worlds of baked goods, deli, dairy and more.
The Javits Center will once again be home to another culinary con, this one the Summer Fancy Food Show through the Specialty Food Association. A long-running event that began in 1954, more than 50 countries will be represented by nearly 2,700 vendors and exhibitors and 47,000 foodservice experts.
The Food Allergy Research & Education Conference rolls into Dallas again in 2017 at the Gaylord Texan. Sponsored by Sysco, restaurateurs, c-store owners, caterers and F&B managers will gather for two days. The details for this show will be announced in future months. There’s still time to register as an exhibitor or a sponsor.
For a full five days, the American Culinary Federation invites food experts to cook, craft and create at their convention. Did we mention the show is at Walt Disney World? This professional vacation is intended to be a family event. It won’t all be rest and relaxation though, as attendees can sign up for classes or competitions.
The National Association of College & University Food Services is a conference for those who cook and cater for students and academic staff. Food authors will be on hand at the event to speak to attendees about food tips, trends and techniques. You also get to sample delectable southern cuisine for four days.
As a caterer, you may already be a part of the National Association for Catering and Events. Have you ever attended the NACE Experience though? Visitors are invited to choose their experience, allowing them to delve deeper into the various aspects of food manufacturing and design.
The Produce Marketing Association will host another of its conferences next year at the Monterey Conference Center & Monterey Marriott. With more than 600 buyers and nearly 2,000 caterers, chefs and F&B managers, it’s definitely wise to get a booth ahead of time. There are even contests for best food (in 2016 there was a National Watermelon Promotion Board).
Once again, the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center will be home to the Association for Healthcare Foodservice’s conference. Last year’s event featured food contests, classes, workshops and keynote speeches. Expect the same for 2017.
Want to get in on the ethnic food trend but aren’t sure how? The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo’s Sabor Latino Pavilion introduces caterers to foods central to Latin American and Hispanic cultures so they can learn to make Nuevo Latino and Tex-Mex foods.
Those in Georgia shouldn’t miss the Atlanta Foodservice Expo. With its goal of blending “all sectors of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry under one roof,” organizations like the Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Alliance and the Georgia Restaurant Association worked to dream up the show’s concepts. These include two days of speeches and workshops on various aspects of food production.