Chicago NRA Show (not what it sounds like)


One of the perks of having a chef boyfriend is getting to go to badass things like the NRA Show, which, thankfully is not what it sounds like.

No, NRA, in this case, stands for National Restaurant Association and the NRA show is basically just like getting samples at Costco except instead of getting like four samples you get hundreds and hundreds of samples. The show itself cost some dough, so though it seems like I got a lot of things for free, there was an upfront charge. I’m pretty sure Sean also had to lie to get me credentials (it’s for insiders only, oh, fancy!) but I choose to be ignorant about that.

The point for the vendors is to get chefs and various other restaurant insiders to carry their products. There was every type of food you could imagine there. I, of course, made a beeline for all the ice cream / frozen yogurt / gelato / frozen treats. All of it! The show is four days long (and you could easily spend that amount of time and still not get to sample / see everything) but due to family obligations (my family lives in Chicago) we only spent a day and a half there. Still, it was plenty of time to eat so many samples I thought I was going to vomit all over people’s shoes. Plus, we saw Bo Jackson! I tired to take a sneaky pic but he hid behind a Vitamix sign because apparently he works for Vitamix now? Interesting career choice, Bo.

Enough talking! Let me flash y’all some pictures!

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Sean and I have recently gotten really into fancy pops so we were pretty excited about all the fancy pop to try! Reed’s Ginger Ale is not new to us but this Stronger Ginger Brew was. Super, super gingery but also very good if you like that sort of thing. 12

Jarritos was there representing and we both saw it at the same time and yelled JARRITOS!!!! and the lady was so excited that we pronounced it correctly, it was very exciting! We tired a couple dozen types and then they gave us bottles of our favorites. 13

Stubborn is some kind of fancy pop that I think is secretly made by Pepsi. We tried a few types and were not particularly impressed. We like very strong flavors and these were pretty heavy on the carbonated water.

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Rick freaking Bayless! He’s hopping, though unfortunately you can hardly tell. We left Iowa at 4:30 in the morning to make it to Bayless’s demo because I am obsessed with Bayless because he’s amazing!

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There were numerous other famous chef people there too but I wasn’t that interested in watching them make things, mostly because we didn’t get to eat them. I snapped a picture of this lady as we were walking by.7

Yes!! Sweet Street! I have the world’s largest sweet tooth and was in complete heaven at this show. Here we had cakes, cookies, cookie bars, pies, etc. and you just walked up to the counter and ordered what you wanted and they gave it to you! For zero dollars!8

Gelato! I tried so much gelato! My favorite was this one booth that had huge bananas sticking out of the banana pudding gelato, which had caramel on it and was delicious. 1

This guy was making some serious waffle things. Sweet waffle things, savory waffle things, all the waffle things! 6

There were also weird things happening, like these people playing Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots. Also, a women in a salmon outfit put a shirt on me. Like, “Hands over your head, honey!” dressed me. 11

As you can see from previous pictures, there were A LOT of people at this thing. I am not always the best around A LOT of people so I took frequent breaks on the loading dock, which had a pretty nice view of downtown. 3

Sean did some product testing for Plochman’s. He liked them all except the raspberry mustard, which he said tasted just like a Starburst. 4

We also celebrated our anniversary while we were in town at the fantastic Topolobampo, owned by Mr. Rick Bayless. It was incredible.

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On our way out of town we stopped at Daley’s Restaurant, in Westlawn, Chicago. It was fantastic and the locals were super nice. Plus they gave us A LOT of food. This is the mess we left behind. Don’t worry, we tip well!

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