The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA)’s premier foodservice event, the LRA EXPO takes place August 4-6, 2018 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Halls I-J, with thousands of attendees. The EXPO is open to restaurant industry professionals from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, August 6, the EXPO is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The EXPO is a must for restaurant owners, managers, buyers, hotel food and beverage directors and many others. It’s the only place in Louisiana to gain insightful industry knowledge and save valuable time by shopping hundreds of companies under one roof,” said Stan Harris, President & CEO of the LRA.

The LRA EXPO is the largest, most comprehensive industry event in the Gulf South region. Companies will be featuring a wide range of industry-focused products and services. It will deliver an environment where exhibitors can promote their businesses and attendees can network.

The EXPO welcomes more than 50 new exhibiting companies this year.

The Opening Ceremony, Saturday morning, August 4, at 10:45 a.m. in the Hall I lobby, will feature special guest, National Restaurant Association Chair Jay Stieber, and will kick off 65 years of bringing together restaurateurs and suppliers for the ultimate shopping and learning experience. Stieber is the executive vice president and general counsel of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, which operates over 40 concepts in more than 120 locations in 11 states.

During the ceremony, the LRA will also recognize its 2018 Class of NextGen award winners—leading young professionals in the restaurant and hospitality industry. They are: Richard Brennan III, chef at Dickie Brennan & Company; Ricky Castro, kitchen manager at Acme Oyster House; Priscilla Medina, digital marketing and promotions manager at Taste Buds Management and Katie Ostrowski, director of sales and marketing at Tujague’s Restaurant.

The EXPO also features the popular IDEA ZONE, where express presentations will be made all three days of the EXPO and will cover emerging trends, best business practices and professional development. Timely sessions of note include:

  • “The Key to Finding Good Employees and Increasing Customer Satisfaction,” by national restaurant expert David Scott Peters on Saturday, August 4 at 1 p.m.
  • “Social Media Marketing for Today’s Restaurants,” a panel led by Main Street Hub’s Emma Vaughn on best practices from industry leaders on Saturday, August 4 at 2 p.m.
  • “Food Technology Entrepreneur Showcase” a panel led by Bill Sabo of the New Orleans Business Alliance, featuring new restaurant tech solutions, on Sunday, August 5 at 12 p.m.
  • “Situational Awareness—What Happens at 11 o’clock,” by Midlands Management’s Ed Pratt on Monday, August 6 at noon.

See the full lineup at

The 2018 LRA EXPO will once again be the venue for the Gulf Coast Seafood Pavilion and the Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO), both celebrating 15 years co-locating at the LRA EXPO. They are produced by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board (LSPMB) and the Louisiana Office of Tourism. On August 4, 12 chefs from across the nation will compete, using domestic seafood from their home states, vying for the title of King or Queen of American Seafood.

In June, Chef Ryan Trahan of Blue Dog Café in Lafayette was crowned King of Louisiana Seafood during the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off. He will be representing Louisiana this year at GASCO. This year’s judges for the competition include former King of Louisiana Seafood Chef Brian Landry of Borgne Restaurant and co-founder of QED Hospitality in New Orleans; former winner of GASCO and Bravo’s Top Chef contestant, Chef Jim Smith, who is also the executive chef of the State of Alabama and James Beard Foundation’s Impact Programs Manager Sarah Drew. Hosts are Gerald Gruenig of KLFY-TV’s Passe Partout morning show in Lafayette and former King of Louisiana Seafood and restaurateur in Monroe, Chef Cory Bahr, who has appeared on the Food Network programs, “Food Network Star” and “Chopped.”

“Having GASCO as part of the LRA EXPO demonstrates our industry’s commitment to promoting not only Gulf seafood, but all domestic seafood, as a center of the plate staple in Louisiana and beyond,” added Harris.

The GASCO is open to the public and tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door of Hall J. Opening ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m. and closing ceremonies will be at 4:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the LRA Education Foundation.


PLEASE NOTE: While the GASCO is open to the public, the LRA EXPO is for foodservice industry professionals, at least 18 years of age, only. Security personnel will be onsite to monitor event barriers. Registered EXPO attendees will be allowed access to both events.

The Diamond Sponsor of the EXPO is Capital One Bank. Platinum Sponsors of the EXPO are: Heartland, Pan American Life Insurance Group, Republic National Distributing Company, UnitedHealthcare, LRA Education Foundation and LRA Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation. Gold Sponsors of the EXPO are: Ecolab, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Midlands Management Corporation and The Silver Sponsors of the EXPO are: Bourgeois Bennett CPAs & Consultants, Caire Hotel & Restaurant Supply, Fisher Phillips LLP, Hailey McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale, LLP, Johnson, Yacoubian & Paysse and TLC Linen Services.


The Louisiana Restaurant Association is one of the largest business organizations in the state, representing restaurant operations and related businesses. The restaurant industry in Louisiana is one the state’s largest private employers, providing jobs to more than 216,600 residents. Restaurants in Louisiana are expected to generate sales of $9 billion in 2018. Get up-to-date news about the LRA and the restaurant industry from