The Restaurant Show this year is something of a misnomer in that it is in fact four shows in one – encompassing The (new) Pub & Bar Show, The Conscious Hospitality Show and Catering Equipment Expo as well as the over-arching Restaurant Show – meaning it is bigger, better and more comprehensive than ever.
Running from 3-5 October, the event at Olympia in London will host more than 450 exhibitors, dozens of live cooking demonstrations and discussions and top industry competitions. The packed programme may seem daunting, but with some clever planning and our guidance you should easily be able to turn a day’s (or three) visit into positive action for you and your business.
Here are BigHospitality's top Restaurant Show picks:
The crème de la crème of the commercial kitchen will be out in force at the show, sharing their top tips for success, demonstrating their expert skills and extolling the virtues of specialist ingredients.
On Monday we plan to find out from Pitt Cue’s Tom Adams and Richard Turner how they went from serving barbecue out of a trailer into running permanent sites in London in their ‘from road to restaurant’ masterclass (The Stage 11:30) before catching Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’s Ashley Palmer Watts and Jonny Glass share their top tips for inspiring staff (and winning some awards along the way) in their masterclass ‘celebrating your team’ (The Stage 1:30).
All eyes will be on the 10 finalists in the Young National Chef of the Year and then the 10 in the National Chef of the Year 2017 competitions at the Competition Theatre on Tuesday. YNCOTY finalists will be cooking their final dishes for judges from 9.30am to 11.30am before the NCOTY finalists move in at 1pm for two hours. The winners of both competitions will be revealed later that same day at the official awards ceremony. Keep up-to-date on all steps of the competition on via our Twitter handle @Bighospitality.
Tuesday's chef line-up promises to provide some relief from all the competition pressure with Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes and Patrick Powell from celebrity hangout Chiltern Firehouse taking to The Stage at 1pm to share their own food inspiration as they create some of their signature dishes and we're interested to see how Hibiscus chef-owner Claude Bosi plans to use coffee in recipes in 'the science of coffee' (The Stage 4pm).
The growing number of diners with medical intolerances and allergies is on the rise leaving chefs with the challenge of trying to cater for their needs, so enter TV chef and gluten-free guru Phil Vickery (The Stage Wednesday 10:45) who'll be showcasing some of his signature dishes and giving his top tips for creating gluten and dairy-free dishes.
Wednesday also has an Italian theme with Theo Randall cooking using Parmigiano Reggiano (The Stage 1pm).
Sartoria chef-patron Francesco Mazzei will also be showcasing his signature dishes while discussing his professional journey from Italy to London (The Stage 2:30pm).
Because the restaurant business is about more than cooking, we've earmarked some of the show's panel discussions and interviews with restaurateurs and industry experts which are designed to help build a better business and keep you ahead of the latest trends.
Meeting that aim head on on Monday will be OpenTable Business Insights: Running and growing a restaurant where a stellar line-up of panellists (Claude Bosi, Charlotte's Group's Alex Wrethman, Cabana's Jamie Barber, The Woodford restaurant manager Will Yarney and chef and TV presenter Simon Rimmer) will share their stories of how they've tackled business challenges, improved visibility and ROI, and expanded into new concepts and ventures (The Stage 1:45pm).
With the rise of the 'flexitarian' and a greater demand on chefs to deliver vegetarian and vegan food, we're interested in finding out how the industry of the future can capitalise on the trend. Visit The Stage at 1:45pm on Wednesday for The Sustainable Restaurant Association's debate titled 'have meat or veg menus had their day?' where a panel comprising Simon Billings of Forum for the Future, agriculturist Andrew Knowles, The Detox Kitchen founder Lily Simpson and chef Oliver Gladwin, will discuss how health and environmental concerns are driving a twist in the nation’s tastes.
And in a shameless promotion, don't miss our very own panel discussion in association with Appetite Learning on the subject of allergen awareness, where we'll be bringing together chef Michael Bremner, Pho Restaurant's Libby Andrews, Lindsey McManus of Allergy UK and Dr Rosemarie Pearson to ask 'are we allergen aware enough'? (Monday The Stage 10:45am).
Great new product ideas
Sourcing new products is a major reason for attendance to any trade show and 450 exhibitors will be there ready to introduce visitors to their business. This year's show includes a dedicated area for catering equipment - the Catering Equipment Expo organised by Bunzl Lockhart Catering Equipment - making it easier to find the latest equipment.
Many of the industry's innovative technology companies, such as Zapper, Flypay, Givex, Global Payments will also be on site to talk visitors through their products while food and drink producers, as always, will be taking up a large part of the exhibitor area.
If you're strapped for time, but want to find out about the latest innovations, listen out for The Great New Idea competition. Finalists include the Eau de Vie Medium Remote System, which enables restaurants to bottle their own unlimited, purified chilled still and sparkling water in house, Natufia Labs PLC, who are bringing the garden into the kitchen with their Kitchen Garden appliance, allowing restaurants to grow their own sustainable, organic leafy greens, herbs and microgreens and. The winners are decided by votes from show attendees and an expert panel, with the best concepts being announced on Wednesday afternoon.
For something truly cutting edge, join the Future Shocks session featuring edible experimentation with chef and food blogger Sebby Holmes and Amelia Boothman, director of brand strategy at 1HQ on Tuesday (The Stage 2.15pm) where they'll be showing us how to cook with edible insects.
Thinking about drink
Processing all that inspiration can build up a thirst. For those looking to find out about the latest trends in drink, new products and to quench that thirst there's fortunately the Liquid Hub.
As we reported this week, the nation's love of gin shows no sign of waning any time soon, so the Gin Guild's Nicholas Cook and Fever Tree's Craig Harper will be on hand to offer their tips on how to harness this growing trend in 'Add fizz to your gin sales' on Tuesday (Liquid Hub 2pm).
We love to uncover interesting new wines, so we've earmarked Sarah Abbott Find your new wine heroes masterclass on Tuesday (Liquid Hub 12pm) where the Master of Wine will be celebrating lesser-known wine producers and showing how they can add a real point of difference to your list while delighting diners, boosting revenue and creating return custom.
And if, like us, you are on the search for the hottest new wine trends, join wine expert Hans Joachim Wadsack on Wednesday (Liquid Hub 2pm) where he'll be uncovering hidden gems and highlighting the regions that used to be poor performers and are now today's unrecognised stars.
For all information about what's at the show and to register to attend for free, click here.