Celebrated Chefs and Master Mixologists Take Center Stage at National Restaurant Association Show®

Foodservice icons to share cutting-edge techniques and trends, providing an insider's look into the future of culinary and beverage excellence

Contact: Julie Franks, mdg; FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 18, 2024

National Restaurant Show

CHICAGO (April 18, 2024)—The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show—scheduled for May 18 - 21, 2024, at McCormick Place in Chicago—unveils its distinguished lineup of renowned chefs and mixologists set to headline this year's highly anticipated event. Drawing from a spectrum of culinary luminaries, including James Beard Award recipients, Michelin-starred chefs, and influential TV personalities, the Show serves as the premier platform for these culinary leaders and beverage experts to showcase their expertise and offer insights into the latest industry trends and techniques. These culinary experts, featuring chefs Karen Akunowicz, Brian Duffy, Christine Ha, Nyesha Arrington, Rick Bayless, Nina Curtis, Jeff Mauro, Elle Simone Scott, Miguel Trinidad, Greg Wade, and more, will showcase cuisines, techniques, and insights across the culinary landscape. 

Set against the backdrop of the Show’s pavilions—The Culinary Experience and The Beverage Room—these masters of their craft will offer insights into trendy dishes, hot topics, and beverage strategies, providing opportunities for operators to embrace emerging trends like plant-based cuisine, innovative global flavors, and leveraging food and beverage to strengthen the foodservice industry.  

Chef Nina Curtis

“Plant-based cuisine isn't just a trend; it's a sustainable, cost-effective pathway to business growth and culinary innovation. By embracing this movement, we not only cater to the diverse needs of all customers but also pave the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future for our industry." 

Chef Rick Bayless

“Every year, I plan a demo that I hope will open people’s eyes to an aspect of Mexican food they don’t know about. Sikil pak, while widely known and consumed in the Yucatan, is little known north of the border. Its pumpkin seed-rich hummus-like texture is perfect for chip or vegetable dipping. And dessert? Sure, everyone knows tres leches cake, but dark chocolate is almost never in the description. I’ll show everyone how to do it.” 

Chef Karen Akunowicz

“I aim to spark creativity and offer practical tips for my fellow restaurant operators and culinary professionals. I want attendees to leave feeling inspired and armed with actionable insights they can implement right away in their own kitchens. Ultimately, it's about fostering a sense of community and sharing the love of food and innovation. I like to remind people, 'You are the boss of the food; the food is not the boss of you.” 


The Culinary Experience, located on Lakeside Center Level 3 (Booth 10448), offers engaging on-floor programming, including chef-led demos and book signings. Chef Brian Duffy will also host a live P&L consulting session, providing practical insights into menu assessment and budget management. The list of 2024 chef demos and live consulting session includes: 

    Saturday, May 18

    • Rick Bayless: Award-Winning Chef, Restaurateur, Author, TV Personality (11 – 11:45 a.m.)
    • Christina Ha: Award-Winning Chef, Restaurateur, TV Personality, Author and Advocate (12:30 – 1:15 p.m.)
    • Jeff Mauro: Chef, TV Personality, Author (2 – 2:45 p.m.)

    Sunday, May 19

    • Nina Curtis: Award-Winning Chef / Director & Executive Chef of Plant’ish & Co. Culinary Arts (11 – 11:45 a.m.)
    • Elle Simone Scott: Chef, Food Stylist, TV Personality and Author (3:45 – 4:30 p.m.)

    Monday, May 20

    • Greg Wade: Award-Winning Baker, Author, and Managing Partner, Publican Quality Bread (11 – 11:45 a.m.) 
    • Brian Duffy: Chef, Culinary and Hospitality Consultant, TV Personality (2:15 – 3:15 p.m.) Live P&L Consulting Session
    • Nyesha Arrington: Chef, Television Personality, and Restaurateur (3:45 – 4:30 p.m.) 

    Tuesday, May 21

    • Miguel Trinidad: Chef, Author, Restaurateur (11 – 11:30 a.m.) 
    • Karen Akunowicz: Award-Winning Chef, Author and Restaurateur (12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.) 


The Beverage Room, located in Lakeside Center Level 3, will showcase the top mixologists, suppliers, ingredients, and products to keep beverage programs on the cutting edge. Several mixologists and beverage experts will be on-site to demo creative and unique techniques on the Beverage Room Stage, presented by Keurig Dr Pepper, and share their outlooks on topics such as culinary and cocktail pairings, non-alcoholic innovations, aperitivo culture, global spirits exploration, and health-conscious cocktail trends, alongside other cutting-edge developments in the beverage industry. Beverage demos include:  

Saturday, May 18

  • Culinary Cocktail Masterclass with Lynnette Marrero (11 – 11:30 a.m.)
      • Lynnette Marrero: Co-Founder of Speed Rack, MasterClass Host, and Award-Winning Bartender 
  • Need For Speed (12:00 – 12:30 p.m.)
      • Katie McCourt: Current Speed Rack Midwest Champ and Bartender at The Hoxton Hotel
      • Krista Orlebeck: National Speed Rack Winner and Bartender at Lazy Bird
      • Lynnette Marrero: Co-Founder of Speed Rack, MasterClass Host, and Award-Winning Bartender

  • Winning Gen Z: Beverages That Offer Bursts of Flavor Across the Menu: (3:30 – 4 p.m.) Presented by Keurig Dr. Pepper
      • Kelleigh Gamble: Senior Director of Marketing at Tractor Beverage Co.
      • Steve Madonna: Director of Culinary R&D at Connections

Sunday, May 19

  • Exciting Shifts in the World of Non-Alcoholic Beverages (11 – 11:30 a.m.)
      • Joshua James: Owner at Ocean Beach Cafe
  • Mixology Mastery: Elevating Cocktails and Glassware for Profitable Pouring (1 – 1:30 p.m.) Presented by Libbey
      • LP O'Brien: Mixologist, Television Personality, CEO and Founder at LP Drinks
  • Delicious and Nutritious: Innovation with BioActive Cocktails: (4 – 4:30 p.m.)
      • James Griffin: Professor, College of Hospitality Management at Johnson & Wales University 
      • Nicholas Casdia: Beverage Expert / Former Bar Manager at Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Monday, May 20

  • Sip & Savor: Delicious Low-Alcohol Options That Taste Better (1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.) Presented by Quady Winery
      • Andrew Quady: CEO, Quady Winery
    • Cashing in on the Aperitivo Hour: (3:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.)
        • Tony Abou-Ganim: Mixologist & Author at The Modern Mixologist 

    Tuesday, May 21

    • Conversational Bartending and Classic Cocktails with a Modern  (11 – 11:30 a.m.)
        • Roxy Rea: Lead Bartender at Matilda’s & BabyAtlas
    • Margin-Friendly Tactics to Craft Eye-Catching Libations (12 – 12:30 p.m.)
        • Aaron Pollack: Spirits Expert and Bar Manager at UNA Hospitality
    • Cocktails with Shochu, the Spirit of Japan (1:30 – 2 p.m.)
        • Rachel Miller: Beverage Expert / Mixologist at Kumiko and Whisky Bar

    Access to all demos and sessions in The Culinary Experience and The Beverage Room is part of the on-floor programming available with a general Expo badge. The Culinary Experience equipment providers are Atosa USA, Inc., Hobart, Middleby Corp., Robot Coupe USA, Inc., Southbend, and Traulsen.  

    For more information about the Show and to register, visit Connect with the Show online on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.   


    About The National Restaurant Association Show
    The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show® is the Western Hemisphere's most influential foodservice event showcasing industry innovations and trends. Each year (starting in 1919), the Show brings together restaurant operators and foodservice professionals for four days of celebrity-led demos, exhibits, sampling, education and networking. The Show unites a global community and enables exploration of the latest advancements in food, beverage, equipment, technology and solutions driving the industry forward. The Show is owned and operated by Informa in partnership with the National Restaurant Association. Visit for more information.

    About Informa  
    Informa is a leading international B2B markets, live and on-demand events and digital services group. They connect businesses and professionals in 30+ industries with the knowledge they need to learn more, know more and do more. Informa has hundreds of global brands, products and services and employs 11,000 employees in ~30 countries worldwide.

    Informa Connect is a content-led, live and on-demand experiences business which connects professionals with knowledge, ideas and opportunities. Informa Connect, a community of over 1,000 colleagues globally, offers connection through events, media and research. They service a number of different industries including Foodservice, Finance, Bio Tech and Pharma, Pop Culture, Marketing, Law, Energy, HR, Sustainability, Construction. Visit for more information.

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