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Nutrition, sustainability and health care are hot topics at NRA Show 2013

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The National Restaurant Association’s NRA Show in Chicago kicks off Saturday with an anticipated 58,000 attendees from all 50 states and 100 countries, and a trade show floor featuring an array of exhibitors showing off new products from more than 900 categories including beverage, food, uniforms, equipment and furniture.

The show’s four-day agenda includes a keynote from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and a talk and book signing with Anthony Bourdain, along with a slew of sessions and features aimed at addressing hot topics in the industry, including health care, sustainability and nutrition.

The Affordable Care Act puts health care on the front burner for restaurant companies as they navigate new rules and work to calculate the costs. In addition to three educational sessions on the topic, the Health Care Knowledge Center at NRA Show will offer one-on-one sessions with restaurant consultants who can help operators craft personalized plans to cope with the changes.

Also on tap at this year’s show

  • “They Gave Me Food Poisoning — What to Do When Your Restaurant is Attacked Online.” This session takes on the often-troubling topic of how to address negative and often unfair comments that come with the territory for restaurant operators in a digital age, with experts sharing advice from legal and public relations perspectives.
  • “Re-Thinking Corporate Social Responsibility” with Denise Lee Yohn and Don Fox, a session to help restaurant operators figure out how to get the most bang for their charitable buck by creating shared value for all stakeholders.
  • The show floor will feature a fully functioning hydroponic garden to demonstrate how relatively easy it can be for restaurants to grow fresh, sustainable food on site with a very small carbon footprint.
  • Sustainability will also feature prominently in the education agenda, capped by a panel on “The Evolution of Sustainability” featuring Ted Turner, Ted’s Montana Grill CEO George McKerrow and “Last Stand” author Todd Wilkinson.
  • Several sessions will center on creating healthier menus,  making your restaurant more kid-friendly and catering to patrons with food allergies. One session will feature Healthy Dining president Anita Jones-Mueller and executives from Darden Restaurants and Silver Diner Restaurants on how to adapt nutritional trends for chains of all sizes.
  • A packed session schedule addresses a slew of other topics, including menu design, franchising, food trends, management and marketing.
  • The World Culinary Showcase will feature demonstrations by celebrity chefs including Rick Bayless, Cat Cora, Marcus Samuelsson and many more famous faces from the culinary world.

Which sessions and features hold the most interest for you? Tell us about it in the comments.