Among the hottest culinary trends in 2009 are philosophy-driven menu choices, locally grown produce, mini desserts, healthy kids' meals and organic wine, according to the third annual National Restaurant Association ( NRA) survey of professional chefs. Restaurant operators will be able to explore these and other trends at the 90th annual NRA Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show, which takes place from May 16 to 19, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Education sessions will be offered, and panelists will discuss topics such as franchising, catering food and style trends, gluten-free menus, menu strategies in tough economic times from top CEOs, sustainability and the evolution of hotel dining. Like last year, the NRA show floor will be teeming with celebrity chefs and industry trendsetters, signing books and hosting cooking demonstrations. Kitchen and front-of-house design experts will be available throughout the event for complimentary consultations. More than 2,100 companies are expected to exhibit at the show this year. Admission is $40 if registered before or on April 10 and $80 after April 10. The event is free to NRA members.
Blodgett chef Tim Klauder talks with attendees on the 2008 NRA show floor

The colocated International Wine, Spirits & Beer (IWSB) event will take place May 17 and 18 at the Grand Ballroom in the South Building on the first level of McCormick Place during the NRA show. Education sessions will be offered, where panelists will discuss trends such as collaborations between chefs and wine directors, leveraging relationships with distributors, alcohol trends and signature drinks. Attendees will be able to sample products and see the latest beverage trends at the various vintner, distiller and brewer tastings and demonstrations. Admission i $95 to attend for those who register before or on April 10, and $135 after April 10. The event costs $55 for NRA members. A IWSB badge will provide entrance to the NRA show.

For more information about both events, visit the NRA's Web site or the IWSB's Web site. Attendees can also keep track of NRA show and IWSB updates by checking out Floored!, the official blog of the NRA show and IWSB event. During the show, floored! will provide live coverage from the event floor.