Mid-America Restaurant Expo heating up with a Top Chef


Most of our members in Ohio and restaurateurs throughout the Midwest have heard about our exciting expo coming up in January.

For years, the ORA operated the North America Pizza & Ice Cream Show… and it was a big hit for a long time. As times change and needs of restaurateurs evolve, we pivot and evolve. So, with the wisdom of the ORA board and our Director of Project Services Bradie Berry taking the lead, the ORA will now be presenting a NEW and IMPROVED expo.

On January 29-30, 2017, the ORA will host the Mid-America Restaurant Expo at the Convention Center in Columbus. Our theme of INNOVATION, TECHNOLOGY AND TRENDS is spot on with the kind of thought leadership restaurateurs and foodservice professionals need to compete in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.

This week, we were thrilled to announce our keynote speaker for the expo -- celebrity chef, restaurateur, James Beard-nominated cookbook author and TV star Richard Blais. He will kick off the expo on Sunday, January 29.

So who is Blais? As I mentioned this news to people ranging from ORA members, a leader at one of our professional agencies who supports the ORA, my oldest daughter, Megan, and friends, the reaction has been – “WOW! … This guy is a star … Do you know he is a Top Chef? … He’s on TV all of the time… I want to go to his restaurants.”

Yes, I do. And, it’s great he’s coming to our expo! Blais has super professional chops, having graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. He trained at The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse and el Bulli. Further, he owns and operates Trail Blais, a forward-thinking culinary company. Blais is also a partner at the popular Juniper & Ivy and Crack Shack restaurants. You can read more about Blais on our website.

We look forward to hearing about trends from Blais during his keynote, which will highlight trends we all need to know about if we build menus, run a restaurant, serve customers and support the industry.

The expo will also focus on the growing use of technology in the foodservice industry with multimedia demonstrations on five stages, exciting head-to-head culinary competitions and thought leadership from industry innovators. Stay tuned for more announcements about additional speakers.

We are selling booths and sponsorships for the expo, and I encourage you to contact our trade show manager, Debra Seiple, at 877-265-7469 or to learn more and get involved in the premier restaurant show in the Midwest.