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Oklahoma Travel Industry Association - Event Information

Event Name:Oklahoma Restaurant Convention & Expo

Online registration is now closed. You may register on site beginning Wednesday, September 26.
Isn’t it time for your next big find? The Oklahoma Restaurant Convention & Expo is just the place to discover new products and trends, whether you’re a new operator or a veteran.
This annual industry event is the largest hospitality related trade show in the state of Oklahoma and the most important event for foodservice and lodging industry professionals.
With more than 6,000 in attendance, the event features hundreds of exhibits,educational sessions, an opening party and competitions, including the ever-popular ORA Culinary Cook-off and ORA Cocktail Shakedown.
Join us for the 2018 Oklahoma Restaurant Convention & Expo and stay ahead of the competition!

Plan your visit! (Some items coming soon)
  • View the Interactive Floorplan
  • See the Schedule
  • Make Hotel Accommodations
  • Get ready to party at the Opening Night Networking Reception
  • Register and get your Badges
  • Get driving directions and parking information
  • Read up on our Presenters
  • Tell everyone on social media that you're coming and use the hashtag #ORAShow2018!
  • Note that the ORA has arranged for FREE parking in the surface lots located on the SW corner of the Cox Convention Center. The entrance to the lot is directly across from the Myriad Gardens on the south side of Reno
  • Questions?
    • Exhibitors: Contact Linda Etherton by email or phone, (405) 942-8181 or (800) 375-8181.
    • Sponsors: Contact Patti Colley by email at  or phone, (405) 942-8181 or (800) 375-8181.
This is a private industry tradeshow open only to those in the foodservice and hospitality industry. Anyone under 18 and suppliers or vendors not exhibiting in the show are not allowed on the show floor. 
Event Date:9/26/2018 - 9/27/2018
Event Time:10:00am - 5:00pm
Details:The Oklahoma Restaurant Convention & Expo is sponsored by the Oklahoma Restaurant Association and held in partnership with the Oklahoma Hotel & Lodging Association.

Wednesday, September 26
Floor open 10:00am - 5:00pm
9:00am School Nutrition Association Meeting
10:00am     Welcome and Ribbon Cutting
10:15am Cocktail Shakedown - Round 1, Heat 1
10:30am     Culinary Cook-off - Heat 1
10:40am Cocktail Shakedown - Round 1, Heat 2
11:05am Cocktail Shakedown - Round 1, Heat 3
11:30am Cocktail Shakedown - Round 1, Heat 4
11:55am Cocktail Shakedown - Round 2, Heat 1
12:00noon Culinary Cook-off - Heat 2
12:20pm Cocktail Shakedown - Round 2, Heat 2
12:45pm     Cocktail Shakedown - Round 2, Heat 3
1:10pm Cocktail Shakedown - Semi-Final, Heat 1
1:30pm     Culinary Cook-off - Heat 3
1:35pm Cocktail Shakedown - Semi-Final, Heat 2
2:10pm Cocktail Shakedown - Championship
3:00pm     Culinary Cook-off - Heat 4
5:00pm     Opening Night Networking Reception
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill
310 Johnny Bench Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Thursday, September 27
Floor open 10:00am - 3:00pm
8:30am     ORA Board of Directors Meeting
10:00am Culinary Cook-off - Semi-Final 1
10:30am - 11:30am Education Session: 2018 Catering Trends
presented by Maggie Howell and Chef Christine Dowd, Aunt PittyPat's Catering
Utilizing the latest event catering trends at your event is a must. Why? People today are much more in tune with food than ever before. A recent poll noted that 8 in 10 (80%) of U.S. adults watch cooking shows on TV regularly, millennials go out to eat more often than members of Generation X or baby boomers, and the number of millennials who read package labels is increasing. All these trends tally up to one thing: the stakes have changed for event catering. Maggie Howell and Chef Christine Dowd, owners of Aunt PittyPat's Catering, will share some catering best practices and some ways to think outside of the box.
11:00am Culinary Cook-off - Semi-Final 2
12:30pm - 3:00pm Special Alcohol Compliance Education (ACE) Training Course
instructed by Collin Graham, Director of Membership, Oklahoma Restaurant Association

The ORA and its members, in partnership with Anheuser-Busch, actively support responsible alcohol service, and have developed an Alcohol Compliance Education program (ACE), which promotes the responsible marketing, serving and consumption of alcoholic beverages. ACE is a comprehensive training program that is approved by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission (ABLE) and covers the changes scheduled for October 2018. 

The ACE program is designed to:
  • Instill in managers and servers an increased awareness of the dangers of drinking alcoholic beverages, including low point beer, wine coolers, etc., and the misuse of alcohol.
  • Provide practical tips to employers/employees who sell beer and similar products, and give servers ideas on how to deal with customers.
  • Inform employers/employees and the industry of their legal responsibilities.
  • Eliminate the sale of alcohol to minors and help reduce drunk driving accidents and deaths. Oklahoma law provides for a maximum Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08.
Teach your employees how to:
  • Identify signs of intoxication
  • Recognize false identification
  • Apply Oklahoma laws regarding sales and services
  • Deal positively with customers
  • $20/person (member rate)
  • $25/person (Non-member rate)
1:00pm Culinary Cook-off - Finals
3:10pm Exhibitor Move-out (all displays must be removed by 9:00pm Thursday)

Opening Night Networking Reception
The reception will be held from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill, 310 Johnny Bench Dr, Oklahoma City, OK 73104. Shuttle transportation will be provided to and from the Cox Center. Tickets are $25.

Badges and Pricing
Once you’ve registered, you will receive a confirmation email that will include a personalized QR code at the bottom of the message. Please be sure that your images are displayed for this particular email. This QR code is unique to you, and contains all the information we'll use to print your badge at the Oklahoma Restaurant Convention & Expo on September 26 and 27. 

To receive your badge, you will need to either
  • print the email with the QR code out and bring it with you to the convention, or
  • be able to produce the email with the QR code on your smart phone.
  • On or Before September 17 - Complimentary (online only)
  • After September 17 – $20/badge
  • On or Before September 17 - $15/badge
  • After September 17 – $20/badge

Hotel Accommodations
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel 
1 N. Broadway Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
PH 800-325-3535 • online
$127 single/double rate (Oklahoma Restaurant Association Convention Group Code)
Cut-off date: 9/9/18

Find Your Way and Park
Convention exhibits and seminars are located in the exhibit hall on the street level at the west side of the Cox Business Services Convention Center. The convention center is conveniently located just off I-40 in downtown Oklahoma City.

Click here for driving directions.

Again this year, the ORA has arranged for FREE parking in the surface lots located on the SW corner of the Cox Convention Center. The entrance to the lot is directly across from the Myriad Gardens on the south side of Reno. Once that lot is full, the next closest parking can be found:
  • under the Cox Convention Center, accessible from northbound Robinson and southbound E.K. Gaylord;
  • in the Sheraton/Century parking garage, accessible from Sheridan on the north side of the Cox Center;
  • in the Courtyard by Marriott parking garage located off E.K. Gaylord at the southeast corner of the Cox Center; or
  • in several parking lots located in Bricktown, accessible from both Reno and Sheridan streets


Christine Dowd
Executive Chef/Co-owner of Aunt Pittypat’s Catering

Raised in a large Irish-Italian family in Verona, New Jersey, Christine Dowd started her culinary experience at the age of 21 when she became a student at the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She graduated at the front of her class with high honors as a Group Leader. To hone her skills in the real culinary world of New York City, she staged (worked for free!) under chefs like David Boulet and Charlie Palmer while holding a full time position in the kitchen of her mentor, Chef Phillip Boulot, at the reputable Mark Hotel. Taking her under his wing Chef Boulot sent her to train for a year under his long-time friend, highly-respected Chef Michele LaCompte at the two-star Michelin rated La Licorne in Fontecraud, France. After returning to New York, Chef Boulot took the highly regarded position of Executive Chef of the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon & offered Christine her first chef position as the leader of the kitchen in the Heathman Bakery & Pub.  

After 3 years in Portland, Chef Christine accepted the position of Chef d’Cuisine at Chicago’s famous Bistro 110. She worked there with French Chef/Partner Dominique Toungue taking the french bistro through record years. When New York came calling, this time it was Italian restaurateur Pinot Luongo, seeking her expertise at Coco Marina, his Italian trattoria located in the heart of New York’s water front financial district. This is where her french culinary skills and passion for Italian food found a home. 

An offer to follow in her mentor’s footsteps and oversee a complete hotel operation brought her back to Chicago several years later, where she accepted a position as Executive Chef of the Hotel Monaco & Mossant Bistro with the Kimpton Group. In 2002 the Marriott Hotel Organization wooed her to oversee the entire culinary operation at its new Oklahoma City property, the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center. 

By 2004, the only thing Chef Christine longed to add to her well-constructed resume was ownership. The opportunity came in the form of Oklahoma City’s premier catering company, Aunt Pittypat’s Catering. When the family of long-time partner Maggie Howell decided to retire and sell the operation, Dowd and Howell bought it. They also opened Trattoria il Centro – Italian Urban Eatery, which closed in 2012 due to city construction projects.  Since buying Aunt Pittypat's they have seen multiple record years of sales and received high acclaim in Oklahoma City for its trendsetting food and service. 

Chef Christine spent 12 years as co-coordinating chef for the greater Oklahoma City Food Bank’s largest fundraiser – Chef’s Feast. She has also mentored high school culinary teams who competed and placed the statewide ProStart competition. 

Next on the horizon for the entrepreneur is a hand crafted Hard Cider business named Cider Theory that will debut later this year. 

Aunt Pittypat’s remains strong & a vital contributor to the Oklahoma City culinary landscape in 2018 due to Chef Christine’s creative skills, food management & amazing ability to train & retain talented staff. 

Collin Graham
Director of Membership, Oklahoma Restaurant Association

Collin is the Director of Membership for the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, Oklahoma Hotel & Lodging Association, and Oklahoma Travel Industry Association. His primary responsibilities include new member recruitment, retention, hospitality industry research, and helping members through the challenges of opening and operating a foodservice business. In addition, Collin is also a ServSafe certified food safety instructor and teaches ORA ACE alcohol compliance classes.

Maggie Howell
Owner, President & CFO of Aunt Pittypat’s Catering
Born & raised in Oklahoma City, Maggie Howell started her career in the hospitality business at a young age. Daughter of Robert Howell, the original Regional General Manager for all 5 Steak & Ale properties in OKC in the late 70’s & early 80’s, it was in her blood! Mr. Howell bought Aunt Pittypat’s Catering in 1986 & although Maggie worked with her dad when requested, from the age of 15 she held jobs outside of the family business all in the restaurant field. 

In 1995 she moved to Chicago & immediately went to work at the famous Bistro 110 off of Michigan Avenue. She bartended, waited tables, and worked as the point host for the bustling 200 seat bistro. Within a year she was offered a position in the Keys to the Future Management Program with Bistro 110 owner, Levy Restaurants. She graduated from this program at the top of her class. This led to positions within the group of restaurants managing & training office personnel – which turned out to be a specialty in the numbers end of the business! She also coordinated orientations for new restaurant employees for all 17 Levy restaurant Chicago locations. 

In 1997 she was offered her first General Manager position at the age of 25. She went on to hold positions at Privately Held, Chicago, Illinois; Tuscan Square, Manhattan, New York; Scoozi!, Chicago, Illinois; and OKC Renaissance Hotel, OKC, Oklahoma.

In 2004 Maggie and Chef Christine Dowd bought Howell’s father’s very successful catering company Aunt Pittypat’s Catering. One year later they opened Trattoria il Centro in downtown Oklahoma City. The restaurant thrived to great acclaim until overwhelming downtown construction projects caused the business to shut its doors. 

Howell and Chef Dowd continue to raise the bar for off-premise culinary events in the state through Aunt Pittypat’s Catering. 

Maggie has served on the board of directors of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association since 2007; in 2017 she served as Chair of the Board. 
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