The 83rd Annual Midwest Foodservice Expo welcomed thousands of foodservice operators from around the Midwest for three days of high energy business inspiration and product sourcing. Attendees came from Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and 16 other states across the U.S. It was definitely the place to be with a great mix of respected industry icons right along with the next up & coming professionals. Nearly 40% of attendees attended 2 or more days with another year of overall increase in attendance.
Seth Mattison, an internationally renowned expert on workforce trends and generational dynamics, kicked off the 2016 Expo with an exceptional presentation sharing insight on innovation, change and the future of the workplace.
This year was certainly far from the “same old expo”. The layout of the Midwest Foodservice Expo was changed, giving attendees a new way to shop and compare hundreds of suppliers while sampling thousands of products and gaining new insights on how to bring the latest and greatest trends from 2016 into your business. An all-new Restaurant Marketing Symposium and Buy Local Conference were co-located with the Midwest Foodservice Expo giving attendees a greater experience all under the same roof. One registration got you access to all three events. Throughout the 3 day event, a wide variety of over 23 educational sessions were made available.
Two all-new areas to the show this year gave attendees a unique experience. The Sustainable Living area was host to bringing ideas for increased transparency with a living herb wall, composting and aquaponics into your business. And the Workforce Solutions area gave employers a look into the best approaches to finding and keeping valuable employees. Compost Crusaders helped the Expo take a responsible, eco-friendly move this year by composting all of the waste generated over the 3 day event.
Another act of giving back to the community was led by our exhibitors that donated over 2,300 pounds of fresh product after the show to the Veterans Outreach of Milwaukee and Feeding America. This translated to 1,917 meals to be served to people in need. And 4imprint used their exhibit space to create a donation campaign for Feeding America. Each $1 donor received an insulated grocery tote and locking lunch container compliments of 4imprint. They raised $1,444 for Feeding America and matched that amount with a OnebyOne grant.
For the 8th year, the Tabletop Design Competition featured stunning entries for 12 eight-top tables. Awards were presented for Most Innovative, Best Use of a Theme, Most Viable, People’s Choice and new this year, Social Choice.
Top bakery professionals and budding pastry artists battled in the Expo’s popular bakery and decorating competitions hosted by the Wisconsin Baker’s Association, which included cake competitions, a cupcake championship and a brand new donut duel.
High school students from across the state were also on hand Tuesday to compete in the 15th Anniversary of the ProStart® Invitational in both culinary and management components. Winners of each category go on to compete at the National Prostart® Invitational in Dallas Texas.
On Tuesday night of the show, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association’s top awards were revealed at the Awards Dinner held at the Grain Exchange in the historic Mackie Building.
Mary Rowley of Goose Blind Grill & Bar in Green Lake received the state’s highest honor, the Restaurateur of the Year Award.
We’re already busy making headway for an amazing show in 2017 – keep a look-out for some big announcements coming to next year’s show March 13-15!