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I'll admit it – I love trade shows. I love meeting new people who share my interests, I love learning about new ideas, and, yes, I even love traveling to different cities to see new things.

That's why I am super-excited to be heading to New York City for the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show the first weekend in March. More than 14,000 industry professionals attended last year's show, which means there will be lots of people to share ideas with.

When it comes to learning about new things, I am proud to say that I will be part of the new Healthy Solutions Pavilion, which will be located front and center on the show floor at the Javits Convention Center. This will be the first time space has been dedicated specifically to helping restaurant owners and other foodservice professionals get a handle on providing healthy dining options – just another indication of the direction the industry is taking.

As I've said before, the trend toward more nutritious items showing up on menus comes from diner demand. Consumers want more information about what's on their plate – where it came from, how it was prepared, everything that's in it. What we'll be presenting in the Healthy Solutions Pavilion includes education and best practices for everything from updates of current dishes to adding fresh, locally sourced products to a menu. In addition to lectures, executive chefs from some of New York's finest restaurants will be cooking and offering tastings in the demonstration theatre, teaching creative techniques to get the most flavor out of healthy ingredients.

I'll be joining several other nutrition experts to talk about the importance of keeping the special-needs diner in mind. If you think about how many Americans, especially children, have some form of food allergy – about 8 percent of everyone under the age of 18 – you can see that designing a kids' menu that is healthy, tasty and safe should be a top priority. I'll talk about what an excellent menu for the under-12 set should look like.

I'll also be discussing how to keep your kitchen and dining room safe for all your patrons. There's a lot involved in making sure diners don't wind up in the ER for dessert, and it starts even before the customer sets foot in the door of your restaurant.

Other topics to be covered in the Healthy Solutions program include menu labeling requirements, marketing your new and improved healthy options, and farm to table dining, and much more.

See you in the Big Apple!

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Betsy Craig
Betsy Craig brings 20 years of food service industry experience to MenuTrinfo, LLC a menu nutritional labeling Company. Her commitment to the betterment of the food industry and her desire to affect the dining public are the driving forces behind her new company Kitchens with Confidence, LLC.
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