The Genius and the Goofy: Glimpsing the Future at the National Restaurant Show
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NRA Show 2013

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Photo: David Hammond

A line of 50 people (we counted) waiting for a snack of one half hot dog. Overheard one of them say, I can't say No to a hot dog. Guess not.

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Photo: David Hammond

Man proud of pants. And who wouldn't be.

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Photo: David Hammond

Green screen silliness in support of Idaho potatoes. Not sure we understand, but people had fun with it.

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Photo: David Hammond

Our suggestion is to give your product a name that can be pronounced. Just a thought.

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Photo: David Hammond

It's ice cream, it's caffeine. It's...Bang!! Jason Kritz says he's not a big coffee drinker, though he must like ice cream.

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Photo: David Hammond

The first sip is free.

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Photo: David Hammond

Umami in a box, a blend of bonito and kelp.

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Photo: David Hammond

It wouldn't be a trade show without attractive female presenters. She was actually Ms. May, in this year's Demo Dollies of the NRA Annual Calendar. Order yours now!

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Photo: David Hammond

What AMB-Eco does is deliver to a restaurant a rack filled with microgreens planted in pulverized cocoanut shells. Throughout the week, the microgreens grow and are harvested at the restaurant, and every week an AMB-Eco service team comes back to put in whole new racks of seedlings (based on the restaurants usage records), and so the cycle begins again. Chicago's Moto is using the system now, and this is one we see big potential for. Grub Street interviewed Andrew Fernitz of AMB-Eco at an earlier stage of his plans here

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Photo: David Hammond

Funny or frightening. You decide.

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Photo: David Hammond

It's called an iFork because, um, not sure. But it's supposed to be less likely to attract bacteria because it's curved and has a little ball that keeps your tines from touching the table.

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Photo: David Hammond

Seems like it might be a good idea, but not sure how much food actually sticks to slow cooker walls.

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Photo: David Hammond

Romaine engineered to fit neatly into boxes, reducing waste and flavor.

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Photo: David Hammond

We’re not crazy about products that market themselves in imitation of that which they are not (looking at you, Tofurky), but soybean-based Wowbutter is a very feasible peanut butter replacement, because it actually tastes as good as (even, actually, almost exactly like) peanut butter, though it contains no goobers. It’s also a good source of Omega-3 and complete protein. As an added bonus, you can peel back the label to access a bunch of stickers that go on your kid’s lunch bag to announce that the product is peanut-free.

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Photo: David Hammond

For when you just don't have time to dip every fry in ketchup.

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Photo: David Hammond

Guess who won an Innovation Award for Menu Development. Go on, guess.

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Photo: David Hammond

Waffles remain a key field for innovation. As with Wafflestix— it's a waffle, it's a... you get the idea.

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Photo: David Hammond

You've heard, perhaps, of chicken n' waffles. This is chicken IN waffles, at the Golden Waffles booth.

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Photo: David Hammond

You can also put barbecued pork into waffles... because it's fun!

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Photo: David Hammond

This truck will hit the streets in Chicago next week.

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Photo: David Hammond

Snack that pretty much reflects food at the show, not very tasty, but free.

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Photo: David Hammond

Peru is the hottest new culinary capitol and easily the best food at the show was from chef Ricardo Zarate at the PromPeru booth ("Promoting Peru"), like this quinoa 2 ways with bell pepper.

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Photo: David Hammond

Blood sausage, quail egg, and salsa criolla at PromPeru booth.

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Photo: David Hammond

For the Benihana of the 21st century, a smokeless, non-sticking teppanyaki grill.

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Photo: David Hammond

We could almost see wearing this. Almost.

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Photo: David Hammond

Mass-signed guitars, tiny Ali gloves, and tiny MJ b-ball. Ways to class up a joint.

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Photo: David Hammond

A whole bar, move-in condition, all you need is the real estate to place it in. And the hookups. And a liquor license.

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Photo: David Hammond

Scary animatronic servers.

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Photo: David Hammond

And then there was... this.

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Photo: David Hammond

Aerate wine more quickly with modfied lab equipment called a Nanocanter. A magnetized stirrer creates tornadic swirl in wine, increasing surface area for better breathing.

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Photo: David Hammond

The automated wine dispenser from Enomatic is one of maybe five similar products we saw at the NRA Show. We spotted these devices in Chicago only within the past year or so, and although we can’t say we’re keen on getting up to use a credit card every time we want another glass, this equipment makes a lot of sense behind the bar. Once open, a bottle of wine in these dispensers will hold for up to thirty days without refrigeration, and merchants can be certain that they’re not losing money due to over-generous pours. A robotic wine steward may seem less romantic than having a bottle uncorked just for you by a human, but it’s more economical and if using this machine wrecks the mood for you, just don’t watch.

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Photo: David Hammond

Robotic drink mixer. It's reassuring to know that when the humans are dead, there will still be cocktails.

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