Best of Show: Food Innovators at the National Restaurant Association

Last week, we hit the 2019 National Restaurant Association show, the largest restaurant show in the country, with a mission to find the latest and greatest food innovations.

With more than 1800 exhibitors on the showroom floor, it was a sensory overload. But we came across three companies, in particular, that are pushing the envelope when it comes to food product.

Tyson Foods: Jimmy Dean Stuffed Hash Browns with Sausage & Gravy & More

One of these companies is Tyson Foodservice.

The foodservice division of Tyson Foods specializes in developing solutions for schools, colleges, healthcare institutions, restaurants and more. Although Tyson is known for its chicken products, the company's portfolio is vast and isn't made up of just meat.

On the showroom floor, we met up with Chris Kline, executive chef of Tyson Foodservice to walk us through some of the company's newest food innovations like the Jimmy Dean® Stuffed Hash Browns with Sausage & Gravy.

"Some of the things we were looking at for the hashbrown is we wanted a product that was a form that folks were familiar with and at the same time, had portability or that hand-held ability that you can carry on the go," says Kline. "If you think of schools, they want that hand-held, crave-able, carry-to-class type of product and this delivers on everything they've either grown up with and once again a flavor and format, they're familiar with."

Watch the video above to learn about Tyson's other products like the Hillshire Snacking Small Plates and Nashville Hot Boneless Wings.

Ocean Hugger Foods | Plant Based Alternative to Raw Tuna, Salmon, & Eel

Plant-based products are in high demand today as more consumers switched to a veggie-centric lifestyle. With that in mind, we made sure to check out some of the many plant-based companies on the showroom floor.

Plant-based burgers are all the rage nowadays, but what about plant-based seafood? We decided to stop by the Ocean Hugger Foods Booth to learn more about the company's plant-based seafood products.

After James Corwell, certified master chef and founder of Ocean Hugger Foods visited the Tsukiji Market in Japan and saw how much tuna was being auctioned off for the use of Sushi, he decided he wanted to create solutions to better protect our ocean's food supply.

The first product the company developed was Ahimi®, a plant-based alternative to raw tuna often used to make sushi.

"It took knowing a little bit about the flavors of Japanese cuisine and tuna and tomatoes are those three things that kinda come together. Basically its the fifth taste umami or savory which is prevalent in Japanese sushi cuisine. It's also prevalent in tuna and tomatoes. So we're able to put 1, 2 & 3 together to make Ahimi," says Corwell.

Watch the video above to learn more about the seafood alternative and about the company's latest products Sakimi™, a carrot-based salmon alternative, and Unami™, an eggplant-based eel alternative, soon to be available.

Fora Foods | Dairy Free Butter Made From Aquafaba

To round out our food innovation tour at the National Restaurant Association Show, we visited another plant-based company Fora Foods on the showroom floor to chat with both the co-founders Aidan Altman and Andrew McClure to learn why they felt the need to introduce a butter replacement.

"Andrew and I are from the midwest and we grow up eating butter and as we got older and we got into the food system, we realized that a lot of dairy product and meat product come from these industrial farms that are unsustainable and put an environmental strain on the planet. However, in the butter space specifically, the only alternative we could get in the grocery store were the margarines of the world. Products that have been around for decades that we didn't want to put in our bodies," says Altman. "So we saw a huge opportunity to make a plant-based butter that actually works with the functional integrity of a dairy butter that was also clean and sustainable."

The butter is gluten-free and non-GMO, as well. Watch the video above to learn more about the dairy butter alternative.