Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 2012

CMP Series: Farm to Fork to F&B

Carol Bialkowski
’ for example,” she said. “Sometimes I use three farms for one meal, and the menu for each meal has the names of the farms on it. So you have to make sure you’re using the right products. There has to be truth in menu.”

Four-Star Reviews

At the end of the conference, there were rave reviews all around - from attendees, CFSA, and the hotel. “We were very pleased with the local and seasonal food served by the Sheraton,” Broadwell said. “Our attendees once again loved the food and appreciated all of the effort that went into sourcing and preparing it.”

Tayouga also appreciated the farm-to-fork experience. “The group was so nice to work with - from the organizers to the attendees. I wish I could deal with groups like that on a weekly basis,” he said. “I spent about 13 years in France, where I used to work for small restaurants. You would go to the market with a bag and select what you want and shake hands with the farmer and put a face on the product. This event was the closest I've gotten to that.”

CFSA’s conference also “worked out [for the hotel] from a dollars standpoint,” Palmieri said. “It was a great group. They had a great room pickup. It was a win-win for both. They had a successful meeting. We were able to prepare and serve the food. It worked out well that they and we were open to see how we could do this as a win-win for the association, hotel, and attendees.”

Palmieri, Walsh, and Tayouga all look forward to CFSA returning to the Sheraton in 2013. “We are in negotiations and hope that we can make it happen,” Broadwell said. “We are planning to return.”

Meanwhile, the Hyatt Regency Greenville - site of this year’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference - has a tough act to follow.

6 Tips on How to DIY

You don’t have to work for a sustainable agriculture association to incorporate local, seasonal, and organic food into your meeting or convention. A meeting professional from any type or size of organization can - and should - be able to do it, according to Fred Broadwell, program manager for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

“Sourcing from local farmers and local food artisans is the future,” Broadwell said. “It creates a connection between the location of the event and the food and the attendee. It creates a unique event - an event that could not happen anywhere else. That really resonates with people today, as opposed to going to another big city with basically generic food. People are more demanding than that.”

Here are six tips from Broadwell on getting started and making it work:
  1. Plan far ahead “If you’re going to propose this, propose it early in the process so that the hotel has time to wrap their mind around it.”
  2. Point out the positives “It would be an incredible learning experience for the staff ... and there is a way to make money on it. If the property is going to offer the service, they should be compensated for it.”
  3. Get F&B on board “Salespeople may say no because they think it would upset the chef. But chefs and food-and-beverage directors typically enjoy doing this. They enjoy doing something different and using local and seasonal ingredients. You need to bring F&B into the conversation early on.”
  4. Hire a coordinator “To do this type of food, someone needs to be paid to handle all the logistics. You could pay someone working for the hotel or convention center, an outside consultant, or a staff person. If you want that higher quality, that experience for your event-goer, you need to spend the money.”
  5. Make it easy “Logistics are tricky, but are getting easier all the time. There are companies out there that can take produce and meats and cheeses from local producers and consolidate it into a single delivery. That makes all the difference.”
  6. Take it slow “For large associations, I suggest taking one piece of an event and making it local and seasonal. Try doing a reception that’s all seasonal and local introduce it, become familiar with it, and see how it goes.”

Bon Appetit

One of the meals served at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference was a seated formal dinner, presented buffet-style. Here’s what was on the menu - along with the local provider of each ingredient:

Chilled Tatsoi and Spinach Salad With Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Tatsoi: Cottle Organics; spinach: Jackson Farm; ginger: Ol’ Turtle Farm

Salad Bar

Lettuce: Don Boekelheide Incubator Farmer; radishes: Coon Rock; tomatoes: M&M Plant Farms; cucumber: Johnson County Organics; sprouts: Sunny Creek Farm

Pork BBQ

Pork: Wells & Jenkins

Vegan Collards

Collards: Cane Creek

Low-Country Purple Rice and Peas

Rice: Clyde Valley Farm; sea-island peas: Anson Mills

Hush Puppies

Cornmeal: Peaceful Valley Farm

Hot Keenebec Potato Salad

Potatoes: Mountain Valley Organics

Ice Cream With Berries and Pecans

Ice cream: Homeland Creamery; berries: Strepps Farm; pecans: Greene Family Farm

More Resources

Learn more about the Sustainable Agriculture Conference.

Test Time

Here’s how to earn your CEU hour. Once you finish reading this CMP Series article, read or watch the following material:
  • A list of basic tips for offering sustainable F&B from BlueGreen Meetings.
  • A video of San Diego Convention Center Executive Chef Jeff Leidy on site at Suzie’s Farm, explaining the produce planted specifically for F&B functions at PCMA 2012 Convening Leaders.
  • To earn one hour of CEU credit, visit pcma.org/convenecmp to answer questions about the information contained in this CMP Series article and the additional material.
  • To earn additional credit, you can take more more tests in our series here: pcma.co/ConveneCEUs
The Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is a registered trademark of the Convention Industry Council.

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