An expansive brush colors this year’s National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show May 20-23 at McCormick Place in Chicago, with sessions designed to engage all stripes of foodservice professionals in the nation.
Onions, one of the most important food items in all of foodservice, are represented at the show by both distributors and ancillary industry members.
Two highlighted sessions are the ahead-of-the-curve Signature 17 event appropriately titled “Ahead of the Crave,” which looks at impact of Millennials and Gen Z’ers on the industry, and “Defying the Curse,” a look at recruiting top talent in today’s marketplace.
“Crave” brings an impressive panel consisting of Jason Dorsey, co-founder and chief strategy officer at The Center for Generational Kinetics, along with Dan Park, GM of the commercial sector at Amazon Business and Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association.
And “Curse” will offer the wit and wisdom of Chicago Cubs owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts and famed sportscaster Mike Greenberg, co-host of MIKE AND MIKE on ESPN Radio and ESPN2.
According to NRA postings at Restaurant.org/Show and Restaurant.org/BAR , Twitter @NRA Show, @BAR17, Facebook @NationalRestaurantAssociationShow, @barshowchicago and Instagram @NRA Show, @barshowchicago, this year’s duo gathering will showcase “the latest products, services, trends, innovation, education and best practices and combine to attract 67,000+ attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100+ countries.”
A sneak preview of the sessions tells us that Jason Dorsey “focuses on how to get ahead of the crave when it comes to Millennials and Gen Z.” In his capacity at Generational Kinetics, Jason has been featured on a number of high-profile mainstream platforms, including 60 Minutes, 20/20 and The Today Show and has been the subject of more than 100 televised interviews.
“His passion is solving tough generational challenges for organizations and leaders and the diversity of his clients allows him to uncover trends early so they can stay ahead of the curve,” the NRA site says. He was just 18 when he wrote his first best-selling book and 25 when he was given the Austin Under 40 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and his most recent bestseller is “Y-Size Your Business,” an answer to “the biggest challenges within a multi-generational workforce.”
Another whiz kid is Dan Park, who shares the revolutionizing “culture of innovation and deep customer knowledge” of Amazon with audiences. He will address Amazon is “impacting the business ecosystem.”
As GM of the commercial sector at Amazon, Dan “oversees strategy, P&L management, and end-to-end customer solutions for key sectors such as retail and distribution, financial services, technology, and hospitality.” He came to this Amazon position after having led the online retail giant’s global product management team, and he has also held leadership positions in Amazon’s electronics category.
Dan also brings experience from stints with Target and Collective Brands, and he is a veteran of the armed forces, serving five years served as a captain in the U.S. Army. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. Dang.
And the NRA’s own President and CEO Dawn Sweeney will also take part in the session. Dawn has been instrumental in “focusing the mission of the Association through a unique, multi-year strategic plan, highlighting key areas of opportunity within the restaurant industry.” For several years she has held the distinction of being named one of the top association CEOs in the country, and Dawn also serves on the boards the U.S. Travel Association and the Women’s Foodservice Forum.
She is an active member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100, the International Women’s Forum and the Committee of 200, which is an international network of female executives. Dawn is a charter member of Child Obesity 180, “an initiative of private, public, non-profit and academic leaders committed to helping prevent childhood obesity through evidence-based initiatives.”
Looking at “how a positive workforce culture thwarted 108 years of futility,” Chicago Cubs Executive Chair Tom Ricketts will tell how he is “Defying the Curse.” Tom and Mike Greenberg will “hold an in-depth conversation… about leadership, and how transforming a culture can overcome even the most stubborn drought.”
The NRA site explains, “It’s hard enough to build a culture of excellence from the ground up, and Tom Ricketts walked into his position facing 108 years of entrenched defeat and a customer base with sky-high hopes but zero confidence. Ricketts took over the Chicago Cubs with all the odds against him, and in six short years he raised the Cubs’ expectations of themselves and in doing so lived up to the wildest dreams of his customers.”
Right on, Cubbies! What’s more, “Tom’s challenges were no different than ours today – recruiting top talent in a competitive marketplace, retaining star team members that help build and grow the organization, and above all creating a workplace culture that transforms attitudes and performance across all employees.”
For more on both sessions and other highlights of the show, go to https://show.restaurant.org/Experience.
And to register for the 2017 NRA Show, visit https://show.restaurant.org/Attend/Registration.
Nearing its centennial, the National Restaurant Association was founded in 1919 and is today “the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 14 million employees.” The association not only operates the foodservice industry’s largest trade show but it also represents the industry at the Capitol and advocates on the NRA’s behalf.
It offers the leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe) and a unique career-building high school program, the NRAEF’s ProStart.