All photos by Kiefer Nazarteh
From March 1st to 3rd, the Canadian foodservice and hospitality industry gathered at the nation’s largest industry-focused trade show – RC Show, to connect, learn, shop, and grow.
Taking place over three days, the show featured over 150 speakers, six competitions, eight pavilions, and a dynamic exhibitor space over the 250,000 square foot floor. In addition to all this action, attendees were invited to three insightful leadership conferences and four networking events.
RC Show showcases cutting-edge products, pioneering people, and transformative ideas. This year’s show theme was ‘Diversify & Thrive’. As shifting demographics, rising food costs, staffing issues, and even climate change alter and affect the foodservice industry, it’s become necessary for operators to explore diversifying their business. Whether that comes in the form of investigating multiple profit avenues, implementing new programs, leveraging innovative products, or branching out with their menus – it’s essential to diversify in order to thrive in the coming years ahead.
Considering this, the RC Show workshops, seminars, panels, and activations all emphasized the ‘Diversify & Thrive’ mindset.
Bar & Bev Workshops allowed attendees to gain actionable information on how to create in-house fermentations and syrups, cut ice, or understand the benefits of organic and biodynamic wines. Interactive Q&A sessions with a cannabis legalization expert and farmer, provided a unique point of view for the industry and an opportunity to get burning questions answered. The foodservice, bar, and beer CEO panels brought together leading experts to explain their approach to diversifying as we all experience the external forces altering the foodservice industry. Finally, the Pop Up Resto & Bar put all of these learnings into practice. RC Show guests walked through the space, took in cooking demos, discovered products making a splash, and saw firsthand how companies like Uber are supporting restaurants as they expand and diversify.
With three full days of insights and expertise, we boiled it down for you to our top ten moments from the show (in no particular order):
1. Canada’s Best Bars at the RC Pop Up Resto & Bar
Canada’s 50 Best Bars was on-hand at the Pop Up Resto & Bar with six of Canada’s top bars. Bartenders from renowned bars across the country: Baijiu, Bar Raval, Botanist, Mother Cocktail Bar, Stillife, and Gift Shop. Guests were treated to cocktails utilizing Peruvian pisco, local and house made ingredients, and products are diverse as fake lime to edible flowers.
2. Crowning the Garland Discovered Culinary Competition winner
After weeks of intense competition at Nella Cucina in Toronto, the Garland Discovered Culinary finalists (along with the chosen fan favourites and winners from coast to coast) took the stage at RC Show 2020 to compete on the next level. After an intense two days, the final two chefs, Gabriell Cruz and Darren Rogers battled it out for a cash prize, a spot in the PEI Shellfish festival and a prestige stage. Congrats to the first place winner, Chef Darren Rogers!
3. Checking out top notch barista skills
This year’s Coffee Comp Stage showcased the best baristas from across the country. Day one and day two saw baristas mix it up and pour it out with the Coffee in Good Spirits Competition where they were challenged to create caffeinated and boozy creations. On day three, competitors were asked to put their skills to the test with the National Latte Art Competition.
4. Catching innovative products on the exhibitor floor
Walking through the exhibitor floor, guests were able to catch a sneak peek at many of the innovative products available. One of the products that stood out also took home the RC Innovative Product Award. PizzaForno allows users in order and receive a hot and freshly-made pizza in just three minutes. Step up to the vending machine style box, punch in your order and a pizza is created in just a few minutes.
5. Attending RC Leadership Conference & Breakfast With Champions
One of the best parts of RC Show are the Hospitality Week events including the RC Leadership Conference and Breakfast With Champions. The Leadership Conference had major industry players like Bruce Linton the mind behind Canopy Growth, Frank Hennessey of Recipe Unlimited, and ghost kitchen pioneer George Kottas and Ennio Perrone, one of the creatives behind bringing Eataly to Canada. Top research companies provided the insights on where growth will be coming from, what trends are taking off, and how you can diversify your business and thrive.
At Breakfast With Champions, guests sat down to gain inspiration from business and menu innovator Adrian Niman of Food Dudes, brand guru Joe Jackman, Jackman Reinvents, and Food Futurologist Dr. Morgaine Gaye who provided an idea of what the industry will look like in 2030 and beyond.
6. Gaining knowledge and insights from Canada’s top CEOs
This year’s RC Show featured three separate CEO panels: bar, beer, and foodservice. The CEOs shared the approach and point of view on a number of hot button topics like attracting and retaining talent, sustainability, and changing consumer demands. As we move forward and businesses weave and navigate the challenges of these forces, taking insights and advice from those excelling is imperative to growth.
7. Learning about the future of cannabis in foodservice
With all the questions swirling around legalisation, edibles, and how foodservice may or may not be able to incorporate cannabis into their businesses, operators need the facts. In a Q&A session with lawyer Whitney Abrams, owners and operators had the opportunity to ask their burning questions in regards to sampling, edibles, licensing, and more. Attendees were also able to sit down for the Rollin’ into the Future panel where experts from the NPD Group, the Hill Street Beverage Company, Olli Brands, and Canadian Cannabis Retailers Union where they gathered data, insights into future trends and possibilities.
8. Soaking up Peruvian cuisine
Peru is a gastronomic destination and the cuisine is blowing up in popularity in Canada. In addition to their award-winning booth experience, Peru partnered with RC Show this year to bring their products and bold flavours to the show stages and floor. In the RC Pop Up Resto & Bar, Peruvian chefs demonstrated how to leverage native products and bartenders incorporated pisco into cocktails alongside local, Canadian ingredients for delicious fusion bites.
9. Learning about money and energy-saving techniques for a sustainable future
RC Show 2019’s theme of ‘SustainABILITY’ was carried over for 2020 with panels and the Foodservice Energy Forum. At ‘How Restaurants Are Achieving Zero Waste’, attendees heard real-life case studies of restaurants that implemented energy-saving techniques and eco-friendly strategies. For example, Maison Boire in Quebec cooks on wood fire and uses ashes to make laundry soap. At the Foodservice Energy Forum, guests sat down to hear stories of three restaurants who took part in the Foodservice Energy Challenge to boost their bottom line and be more energy efficient.
10. Understanding how to leverage local
Throughout the eight pavilions, stages, and workshops, there was a focus on leveraging local. Whether utilizing side by side ingredients that you’re bringing in or creating menus that emphasize local, gaining an understanding of what the local flavours are and how to utilize them means that you can leverage to diversify a menu and help boost your bottom line. Whether on the local stage learning about the best Canadian beef cuts, or in the Pop Up Resto & Bar taking in an Indigenous cuisine cooking demo, guests were able to understand how to incorporate what grows in their own backyard to attract new consumers.