What are your overall thoughts on the show?
It has been fantastic to watch the ORA modernize this iconic hospitality event over the last few years. I’ve also seen a large amount of work go into diversifying the Mid-America Restaurant Expo, and that’s something I appreciate as a minority in this industry. Every year, the exhibitors, seminars and competitions offer more relevant experiences for contemporary owners and operators who attend. It’s very exciting to be a part of this show!
You are the cocktail queen. What kinds of offerings experiences does the Expo provide for those interested in learning more about beer, wine, spirits and cocktails?
(I am giggling from behind my keyboard.) If attendees look to learn more about the liquid in the glass, they will have many opportunities to do so.
Liquid Lane is a fantastic place to start, as it’s where you can meet makers of varied non-alcoholic beverages. As wellness continues to become a priority in our world, it is imperative that bars and restaurants are prepared with low-ABV and temperance-style offerings for guests that choose not to imbibe in a traditional way.
Also, make sure to leave plenty of time to visit The Establishment and The Craft stage, a newer specialty area at the Expo. There you can sample a variety of beer, wine, mead, spirits and liqueurs – including many local brands. Curious about new trends in cocktails or better ways to execute an enviable bar program? Visit The Craft stage to hear industry leaders share their experiences and best practices.
We’ve got a new competition this year: MixedUp Cocktail Competition! Share with us what this is about and how you’re involved?
MixedUp is a wonderful opportunity for bartenders and mixologists to show off their creative chops. We hope to find the next Modern Classic cocktail, so we’re asking competitors to create a simplified offering that uses a classic for inspiration. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the ORA and Expo Committee on the design this competition and I’ll be one of your judges!
What does someone need to do to stand out in that competition?
Well, you must adhere to the guidelines set for the competition – that’s a great start! Trust your instincts as a creative and highlight your strengths. Remember, we are storytellers – so make sure you have a story that reflects the liquid in the glass. Lastly, the key to creating a modern classic is to make sure it can be replicated – that’s where the magic lies!
What value do you get out of attending the show and how do you think others in the restaurant, foodservice & hospitality industry will benefit as well?
In my experience, there are few shows where you can find the range and variety of food and beverages like you will at the Expo. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet other owners, buyers and industry professionals while also accessing some of the top products available in the region. If you’re excited about expanding your knowledge – there are plenty of opportunities for that, too!
If you had one minute to convince someone to attend or exhibit at the Expo, what would you say?
Invest in yourself! Our industry continues to change and evolve at a very fast pace, and to be successful, you have to stay ahead of the curve. The Expo offers so many opportunities to network and engage with makers, creatives and people just like you. I think it takes a village to create and maintain great bars and restaurants. So why not grow your village while learning more about what can make yours even better?