On July 9-10, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will be brimming with all things food and drink as the Texas Restaurant Association Marketplace takes over.
Now in its 80th year, the annual TRA gathering brings together thousands of restaurateurs, chefs, and industry experts for a weekend of the latest trends, products, equipment, technology, news, and advice.
Call it a delicious meeting of the minds — about 6,500 minds, to be exact. TRA Marketplace is the second largest foodservice show in the country, with more than 600 exhibitors showcasing everything from artisan food products and craft beverages to linens, mobile technology, security, kitchen equipment, and even food truck displays.
New this year are education presentations focused on hot topics such as working with third-party delivery services and the best tactics for recruiting and retaining top talent. Restaurant guru Gerry O'Brion will share insider tips gleaned from a career growing such brands as Quiznos, Red Robin, and Coors Light, and another session will examine the recent shift in Latino food-consumption habits. And trends? They've got 'em, from tea and coffee to pickling and fermenting to a special sake tasting and training class.
To prove that it's not "all work and no play" at TRA Marketplace, just look to the Craft Beverage Garden. There you can sample sips from Santa Fe tequila, Dripping Springs vodka, and Loft Vineyards — just to name a few. You can also relax in the member lounge, where charging stations, free WiFi, comfy sofas, and even a masseuse await exclusively for TRA members.
Partnerships with Sabor Latino and Nightclub and Bar Show bring exciting new exhibitors to the event. Check out the new product showcase and technology pavilion, where you can get hands-on about apps, touch-screen ordering, mobile payments, and more. The GO TEXAN collection spotlights products grown and created right here in the Lone Star State.
On July 8, the night before it all kicks off, members can get fancy at the Night of Excellence awards dinner and presentation, where the networking is sure to be valuable.
The next night, July 9, is Lone Star Bash, an open-to-the public party at Trinity Groves where the proceeds benefit Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation and Texas ProStart. This year's theme is "CajunTex," a celebration of Cajun and Creole cuisine done Texas-style, and guests can enjoy bites from such well-known Dallas chefs as Abraham Salum (Salum), Anastacia Quiñones (Oddfellows), Jeffrey Hobbs (The Slow Bone), Richard Chamberlain (Chamberlain's), Nikky Phinyawatana (Asian Mint), and Gianni Santin (Haute Sweets Patisserie). There will also be live music from Jay-B & the Zydeco Posse.
Still need to get your ticket? Go here, but be sure to hurry: After July 3, the price goes up to $65 and it's pay-at-the-door only. Before July 3, it's $45 for members, $55 for non-members. Badges are good for both days of the show and are non-transferrable. Single-day passes aren't available, which makes sense because there's too much to do, see, and learn in one day anyway.