The 100th annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) Convention wrapped up this week at McCormick Place. After attending and participating in more than a third of these events throughout the last century, Foodmix Marketing Communications, which specializes in food brand development and promotion, has inked its Top 10 list of cool things at the show.

Why does it matter?

The show’s theme says it all: “Before it’s a thing, it’s here.” The acknowledgment by the National Restaurant Show and Winsight media that trends start in foodservice. This list will give you a glimpse of things to come in your local restaurant and eventually to grocery stores near you.

Top 10 Coolest Things at The 100th Annual National Restaurant Show Convention:

  1. Oven-Baked Turducken Roast. OK, Arby’s, if “You Have the Meat,” then you’ve got to get this. Imagine driving through your local fast food place and ordering up a nice Turduken sandwich for the ride home. John Madden, former NFL announcer who made Turduken a thing, will be thrilled.
  1. Pasta Made from Fish. Sounds fishy too you? Remarkably, it’s not. Maybe a wee bit more chewy than typical pasta – but dress it up and it goes down pretty well. And it’s hearty.
  1. Eat your bourbon. This is going to be a big hit with our friends in Wisconsin known for their love of Bourbon. Spirit-inspired spices and seasoning allow any cook to add a distinctive “shot” to any dish.
  1. Pre-Packaged Avocado Toast. Making the life of every millennial who can’t figure out how to spread a whole avocado on bread easier and more complete.
  1. Sushi Made Simple. Ever try rolling maki? Even sushi restaurants are struggling to find trained chefs. Imagine a pad of frozen sushi rice and a hand-operated sushi roller (watch vintage Cheech & Chong for the basic concept). The demonstrator at the NRA show never made a roll prior to us watching him. Expect to see more maki rolls in non-traditional places.
  1. Penny the Robot. Food runner, server, soon to be order-taker. Now you can be ignored by a robot as well as a human when you are trying to track down your bill!
  1. Smart Eye-Wear. Twenty people coming over for paella and you don’t even know what it is? Slap on these specs and the display will take you through the recipe and techniques needed to wow your guests. And you’ll look stylish – err… sort of.
  1. Plant-Based Everything. Cows, pigs and chickens can look forward to some time off if this plant-based craze continues. Everyone has heard about Impossible Foods, who make peas taste like meat, but the movement is much bigger, with plant-based fish, beet-root pizza crusts, cheese, milk and mayonnaise, to name a few.
  1. Beer Cheese with CBD. Darn, if they just would have kept the THC in it, they would have a party in a pack! Unlike the recent Natural Products Expo, CBD was not all the rage at NRA – but hey, you can’t have a Top Ten Food list without mentioning the still highly unregulated and ill-defined cannabis market.
  1. Waiter, What’s that Germ Doing in my Soup? Well, it’s not the back stroke, and probably not even there, thanks to new hand-scanning technology that identifies bacteria before they wreak havoc on you!