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Cooking demonstrations got under way Monday at MUFSO 2018 in Dallas.

MUFSO attendees converge on Dallas

New format lets participants customize their experience

This is part of Nation’s Restaurant News' special coverage of the 2018 MUFSO conference, taking place Oct. 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency at Reunion Tower in Dallas. Follow coverage of the event on and tweet with us using #MUFSO. Stay connected on the go by downloading the MUFSO app.

Nearly 800 restaurant operators and suppliers gathered in Dallas to learn, network and celebrate industry innovators at the 59th annual MUFSO conference, which kicked off Tuesday.

Presented by the NRN Restaurant and Food Group, MUFSO has been reformatted to feature three simultaneous learning tracks — C-Level Leadership, Consumer Experience and Technology — allowing attendees to gain as much knowledge as possible while taking into account their busy schedules.

C-Level Leadership sessions include conversations on crisis management and unconscious bias; Gen Z, the generation currently in their teens and entering college; retaining great workers; and real estate strategy.  

Consumer Experience topics include Customer 20/20, a look at how to create compelling menus that attract guests and keep them coming back; a panel on delivery and takeout; one on the fast-fine service model that brings high-end touches to the fast-casual experience; and a conversation with the emerging brands who won this year’s Nation’s Restaurant News Hot Concepts awards.

In the Technology track, there will be presentations on new tools being used for delivery, labor-saving hardware and software, customer-facing tech such as apps and kiosks, and data analysis, as well as a conversation on how to decide whether to buy off-the-shelf technology or build your own.

“NRN’s MUFSO conference is all about what’s new and what’s next and attracts key influencers across the industry. This year we feature fabulous keynote speakers — chef José Andrés and restaurateur Kimbal Musk — great networking opportunities, and an expo floor filled with the latest in restaurant innovation,” said Laura Viscusi, vice president and group publisher of NRN Restaurant and Food Group.

“We are also debuting NRN’s latest issue, which features an all-new look, and insights about the next generation of customers.”

Ron Ruggless

Jack Gibbons and Randy DeWitt at Legacy Hall

The first day’s events included an offsite tour of Legacy Food Hall, which opened in Plano, Texas, earlier this year and features 20 restaurants and bars and was developed by veteran restaurateurs Jack Gibbons and Randy DeWitt.

Chefs also participated in the Texas Pete Kitchen Hero Cook-Off for the opportunity to present $10,000 to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and $10,000 to chef José Andrés' World Central Kitchen organization. The winner will be named on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the expanded Supplier Showcase, featuring the latest foods and technology from 87 of the nation’s leading foodservice suppliers, got underway.

Other highlights of the show will include the Tuesday keynote address by José Andrés, founder of the ThinkFoodGroup who, apart from being a world-renowned chef and successful restaurant operator, has taken on humanitarian efforts including feeding millions of meals to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

On Wednesday, another keynote will be delivered by venture capitalist and restaurateur Kimbal Musk, who will discuss how to provide food that nourishes the body, farmers and the planet. 

Nancy Kruse, president of The Kruse Company, also returns to MUFSO this year with her popular State of the Plate presentation Wednesday, highlighting the most important menu trends of the past year.

“MUFSO is all about bringing folks together from all over the industry to share ideas. From the biggest chains the smallest emerging brands, there is so much to learn from one another,” said Jenna Telesca, editor-in-chief of Nation’s Restaurant News.

“This year, we’re talking about everything from automation to unconscious bias to the best ways to build a strong culture. There’s lots of information to help build businesses of all sizes.”

Celebrations will also be held to honor the 2018 Hot Concepts and Golden Chain Award winners.

Follow the show on, with the official MUFSO app and on social media using #MUFSO.

The MUFSO bag insert sponsors are Jones Dairy Farm, Clemens Foodservice, Merisant, Gamay Food Ingredients and NRAEF

The track sponsors are Daiya and Omnivore

The track & session sponsors are Shift Pixy, MGH, Conversant, Oracle America, Inc., Zivelo, APSM Systems, Bringg and Ventura Foods

Breakfast is sponsored by Brill

Breaks are sponsored by Royal Cup and Smoothie King

The Hot Concepts celebration is sponsored by V&V Supremo Foods, Fonterra Foodservices (USA), Inc., Thomas Foods International and Impossible Foods

The lanyard sponsor is Clemens Foodservice

The hotel key sponsor is Matthew’s Real Estate

Shake, Sparkle & Stir is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company

The Kitchen Hero Cook-off is sponsored by Texas Pete

The offsite tour of Legacy Hall is sponsored by Corrigo

Update, Oct. 2, 2018: This story has been updated to include additional information about the beneficiaries of the Texas Pete Kitchen Hero Cook-Off.

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