TRA Marketplace unveils in Houston July 14-15

Jun 25

2nd Largest foodservice show in the US unites Texas restaurants – highlights education & technology

(Austin, TX) – The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) Marketplace, the state’s largest restaurant industry event proudly returns to Houston on Sunday, July 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Monday, July 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida de Las Americas).

In its 82nd year, and the second largest foodservice show in the country, TRA Marketplace is an epic two-day extravaganza for all those involved in the industry – from chefs, to educators, to vendors and entrepreneurs of all experience levels.

Known for its outstanding lineup of national speakers and experts, TRA Marketplace is part trade show and part educational conference. The exhibit area dazzles visitors as row after row of stunning and interactive displays showcase the latest industry-leading products, equipment, services, and technology.

Meanwhile, three different programming stages offer a powerhouse roster of speakers, chef demos, industry experts, and culinary celebrities, serving up practical tips, thoughtful insight and valuable advice. The Big Bend Big Ideas Stage, presented by Texas Mutual features a wide array of trending topics, while the Silicon Hills Technology Stage, presented by Coca-Cola showcases dynamic 30-minute interactive sessions. The Panhandle Culinary Theater, sponsored by Bright Kitchen Power, features culinary demonstrations with a full kitchen set up.

This year’s keynote sessions are stellar, with many recognizable faces and brands. Of particular note is Chris Simms, CEO of Lazy Dog – the hot, new, casual dining chain experiencing explosive growth, a provocative “restaurant legends” panel with industry greats including Norman Abdallah of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, James Beard semi-finalist Kaiser Lashkari of Houston’s Himalaya restaurant and Tracy Vaught, three-time James Beard semi-finalist for Restaurateur of the Year and owner/operator of four of Houston’s most successful restaurants, Backstreet Café, Hugo’s, Caracol and Xochi – moderated by TRA’s new CEO, Emily Williams Knight.

Other education highlights include a keynote conversation on Houston’s cultural and culinary landscape with Chefs Anita Jaisinghani of Indika, Pondicheri and the Bake Lab + Shop, (Houston and New York), and Chris Shepherd, James Beard award semifinalist this year for Outstanding Chef, whose Georgia James restaurant was on GQs list of best new restaurants in America. The panel will be moderated by Mariam Parker, executive director of the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.

You’re Going to Need a Drink for This: Cocktail Exhibition and Hospitality Law features three innovative cocktails along with three oft-discussed, and critical industry law topics; alcohol service, employment law, and immigration.  The session will be led by three well-respected Texas attorneys, national immigration expert Jacob Monty of Monty & Ramirez LLP, labor expert Alicia Voltmer, and David Denney, specializing in hospitality law, who also serves as incoming president of the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association.  

Thousands of restaurateurs, chefs, educators and industry executives are expected to descend upon Houston over the two-day event. In addition to networking and getting incredible show-only deals, attendees will have the opportunity to sample a wide array of new food items and drinks, including craft beer and specialty cocktails in perennially popular Craft Beverage area.   The show also features a Culinary Innovation Station featuring newly launching companies and products in Texas, and a GO TEXAN area for Texas grown/manufactured products available for purchase.

“We are thrilled to back in Houston for TRA Marketplace,” says Richie Jackson, longtime CEO of TRA who is retiring this year, following 47 years of service to the restaurant industry. “This show is special to me, and I think it’s special to everyone who attends. Nowhere else can you find restaurants, chefs and industry experts of this caliber who have Texas roots and connections. Houston alone has more than 10,000 restaurants representing 70 countries. It’s an extraordinary food center, and together we’ve created an extraordinary show.” 

On the exhibitor side, guests will find everything from kitchen to curb, including artisan food products, linens, dinnerware, cookware, mobile technology, security, flooring, apparel, equipment, and supplies. 

The TRA Political Action Committee (PAC) Lounge will be the site of several political and legislative-themed sessions with VIP guests including Senator Carol Alvarado, retired general Adrian Bentley Nettles, TABC executive director and Jacob Monty, national immigration expert with Monty & Ramirez LLP. While the PAC Lounge is reserved for PAC members only, guests may join onsite during the event or online.

Brand new to the show this year is TRA Young Guns – a dynamic networking and cocktail event created for for young restaurant professionals or those new to the industry, along with an electrifying live-art exhibit throughout the weekend by renowned graffiti artist Mario Figueroa, known as GONZO247. There is also a TRA Restaurant Photography Contest that includes a Peoples’ Choice vote to take place during the show. Guests will also have the opportunity to bid on the graffiti mural and photographs, with funds benefitting the Texas Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation (TRAEF).

There are two special, hallmark events during TRA Marketplace. On Saturday, July 13, TRA’s annual Night of Excellence awards dinner will be held in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom, and will include presentation of the association’s top honors, education awards, and special recognition for outgoing CEO Richie Jackson. The following evening, Sunday, July 14, is the Lone Star Bash at Minute Maid Park (501 Crawford Street). Open to the public and benefitting the TRAEF, the Lone Star Bash is a culinary showcase, featuring a record number of participating chefs, with live music from Kyle Park.

TRA Marketplace tickets are $45 for TRA members, and $65 for non-members. After July 13, all tickets, regardless of membership status, are $65 general admission at the door only. Tickets for non-exhibiting suppliers are $145 for both members and non-members. For more information, to register or to become a sponsor, visit

For a full listing of education sessions visit

About the Texas Restaurant Association
The Texas Restaurant Association was formed in 1937 to serve as the advocate in Texas and the indispensable resource for the foodservice industry. Today, as a leading business association, TRA represents the state’s $66 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of more than 48,000 locations and a workforce of 1.3 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the Association represents, educates and promotes the growing industry.


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