Press "Enter" to skip to content

Chicago’s top restaurant trade shows and conventions

In the restaurant industry, whether you’re selling cooking products, appliances or just opening a new restaurant, a trade show could be the perfect opportunity to get your name out there. In Chicago the restaurant industry is highly competitive, but if you get yourself out to some trade shows in the city you’ll get a real head start. There are a number of restaurant trade shows in Chicago, many of which are in the heart of downtown at McCormick Place. Here are some of my top recommendations for 2013.




National Restaurant Association Show 2013, May 18-21 at McCormick Place


The NRA Show is one of those shows that just can’t be ignored in the restaurant industry. Covering the best in restaurant, foodservice and

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

hospitality for almost a century, it is the restaurant show to attend in Chicago. The show is produced by the National Restaurant Association, drawing over 58,000 industry professionals each year. At this show you’ll have access to over 70 free educational sessions which you can attend while seeing all the innovations in foodservice products and services. In Chicago, the NRA Show is one of the best opportunities for buyers and sellers to get together to learn and do business.


Photos here: ash3/543475_10150899295887313_322828633_n.jpg



Good Food Festival & Conference 2013, March 14-16 at UIC Forum


Are locally grown, sustainable farming, businesses and food your thing? Then this festival is for you. Part festival, part conference, it’s a chance to meet and brainstorm with the leaders, businesses and individuals that support the sustainable food movement. Distributors and artisan food producers attend the show looking for new business, so if you’ve got a restaurant that prides itself on cooking with locally grown food, this trade show could help you grow your supplier list significantly or help you learn new industry business strategies.




IFT13 Annual Meeting & Food Expo, July 13-16 at McCormick Place


Another big show, IFT13 is a great place to meet suppliers of food packaging, equipment, ingredients and processing. IFT13 is also an opportunity to be on the lookout for new food technology and trends. Plus there are a number of activities you can attend in addition to the expo including competitions, philanthropic events and  a career fair if you’re looking for a job!




Sweet & Snacks Expo 2013, May 21-23 at McCormick Place


Organized by the National Confectioners Association, the Sweet & Snacks Expo focuses on (you guessed it!) confectionery delights. One of the largest in the America’s, the Sweets & Snacks Expo is the perfect place to attend if you own a bakery or a coffee shop. This show attracts more than 15,000 potential customers and buyers with over 570 exhibiting companies. Plus 145 new confectionery and snack companies exhibited in 2012, which means this is one show that is continuing to grow in popularity.




Chicago Fine  Chocolate Festival, October 20-22


Another “sweet” find for the restaurant industry in the city of Chicago is the Chicago Fine Chocolate Festival. This festival is only in its second year, but already highly regarded as the only trade show specifically dedicated to chocolate. Once again, bakery owners, coffee shops, this is the show for you, featuring top chocolate manufacturers and endorsed by elite sponsors including the National Confectioners Association’s Chocolate Council, Candy Industry magazine and The French Pastry School.


Photos on site:


About the Author: Sarah Bridgewater has been writing about various trade show and convention topics for companies like Nimlok for more than a decade. See this page for more information.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *