A look at the foodservice equipment industry’s biggest trade show, coming this month to Anaheim, California.

Wednesday, February 18
6–8 p.m. | Kick-Off Party
Thursday, February 19
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Show Floor Open
Friday, February 20
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Show Floor Open
Saturday, February 21
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Show Floor Open
7–11 p.m. | After-Show Party

Food News Media spoke with officials at the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers about what attendees can expect from this year’s event.

What is the purpose of the NAFEM Show?

The NAFEM Show features foodservice equipment and supplies from 500-plus manufacturers. At the show, attendees will experience a wide range of foodservice equipment and supplies for food prep, cooking, storage, and table service. Attendees will see new products with a focus on innovation, and have opportunities to engage with a vibrant community of foodservice professionals.

How would you recommend that first-time visitors experience the show?

First-time attendees should prepare in advance to maximize their time at the show by exploring exhibitors before arriving. NAFEM launched a series of videos in early January to help attendees prepare for the show in advance and better navigate the show when they arrive in Anaheim. These videos can be excellent resources for first-time attendees. The NAFEM Show mobile app also launched last month, and allows attendees to request appointments with exhibitors and plan their experience in advance.

Both first-time and returning attendees are encouraged to follow The NAFEM Show on social media for the latest updates. Check out twitter.com/thenafemshow and facebook.com/thenafemshow.

What’s new at the show this year?

The WHAT’S HOT! WHAT’S COOL! galleries take a new approach to sharing innovation and trends with attendees. They showcase the hottest, coolest, and freshest innovations in foodservice equipment and supplies today. Four galleries are spread across The NAFEM Show floor, each highlighting a different industry trend impacting operators.

Aside from the exhibits, what are some can’t-miss opportunities for attendees this year?

The NAFEM Show offers two can’t-miss networking events, one to kick off the event and one to conclude the conference, and attendees can purchase tickets while registering. The Kick-Off Party on Feb. 18, from 6–8 p.m., is a casual, outdoor reception. The After-Show Party, on Feb. 21 from 7–11 p.m., will feature a dinner reception and live concert with three-time Grammy winners and multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band. The closing party is also available to all show participants.


What are some trends in equipment that you expect to see represented this year?

Trends that will be showcased in the four WHAT’S HOT! WHAT’S COOL! galleries focus on community responsibility; health and wellness; global flavors and craft preparation; and productivity and efficiency. Each of these topics has relevance and importance to attendees:

Community Responsibility

We all share the responsibility to care for the earth and consider the long-term impact of our actions. Commercial foodservice equipment and supplies hold great potential to achieve these goals. Consider the way foodservice operations are designed, built, and operated. This includes imagining kitchens that support optimal preparation of fresh, local, farm-to-table or even “cook-to-table” foods, and selecting energy- and water-efficient equipment and environmentally friendly materials.

Health & Wellness

While there will always be room for indulgence and special-occasion foods, the foodservice industry is increasingly responsible for providing healthy, everyday food choices to a substantial segment of the population. This includes options to address dietary requests or food allergies. It also entails promoting health and wellness, portion control, and calorie quality—as well as an increased focus on whole grains; plant proteins, including nuts and legumes; and healthy oils.

Global Flavors & Craft Preparation

Customers’ understanding and appreciation for culturally and ethnically based cuisines are more sophisticated and adventurous than ever before. At the same time, there’s a growing opportunity for operators to infuse professional expertise or add value through artisanal skills that celebrate the craft of fine food. These trends challenge operators to demonstrate knowledge and application of preparation methods, processes, and service surrounding globally relevant flavors and handcrafted dishes. Increasingly, operators will rely on these authentic cooking methods, unique tools, serving vessels, tabletop décor, ingenuity, and even open-kitchen display cooking to offer menu items that celebrate global diversity and demonstrate craft preparation.

Productivity, Efficiency, & Precision

As foodservice challenges increase, competition demands productivity, efficiency, and precision. This requires the operation, and the person executing each task, to explore and responsibly use financial, personal, and technological resources for optimal yield. Operators need equipment and supplies that automate or simplify processes, reduce overhead, perform multiple functions, or serve satisfying menu items with consistency, flexibility, and speed.

The Afterparty

Who says trade shows are all work and no play? NAFEM is closing the Show out with a bang, featuring a dinner reception and concert from the three-time Grammy award–winning Zac Brown Band.

The Zac Brown Band’s three platinum-selling albums—“Uncaged,” “You Get What You Give,” and “The Foundation”—have collectively sold more than 6 million copies and produced 10 No. 1 hits. The group performed for more than 1.3 million fans on the road in 2013, with 70-plus headline dates and more than a dozen major festival appearances.

Be sure to get your ticket ahead of time!


Fun on the Fringes

The area around the Anaheim Convention Center has plenty to offer. Here are our tips for things to do and see while you’re at the NAFEM Show.

Go Bowling: A short walk from the Convention Center, the Anaheim GardenWalk features restaurants, shops, and entertainment opportunities, like Bowlmor Lanes Anaheim, an upscale bowling alley with a full food menu, as well as beer, wine, and cocktails. While you’re shooting the lanes, help yourself to a starter like the Avocado Hummus or Sloppy Joe Rolls, or brave the Death By Bacon or Behemoth Burgers.

Go Dining: You’re in the foodservice industry, after all. Check out some of the restaurants near the Convention Center to get a feel for what trends are making their mark on the scene:

Fire + Ice Grill + Bar: Located in the Anaheim GardenWalk, Fire + Ice is a casual, Mongolian-style buffet that lets customers choose from a selection of veggies, meats, seafood, and salads to build their own dishes, which are cooked on a large circular grill.

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine: James Beard Award–winning chef Roy Yamaguchi opened the first Roy’s in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1988, and has since grown the Pacific Rim–cuisine concept to 28 locations in the U.S., Guam, and Japan. You can find the Anaheim location in the GardenWalk.

Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar: This Downtown Disney District restaurant offers both casual and upscale dining experiences. Don’t miss Catal’s Mediterranean-inspired menu, which includes entrées like Suckling Pig and Chicken Paella.

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar: Inspired by Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise, Trader Sam’s sits next to the Disneyland Hotel pool and serves island-themed cocktails.

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen: A taste of the BIg Easy comes to Downtown Disney inside a replica of the French Quarter. With traditional New Orleans eats like etouffée and bread pudding, Ralph Brennan’s also offers the quick-service Jazz Kitchen Express, as well as the jazz club Flambeaux’s.