Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio October
FOOD & BEVERAGE
BY Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM
BREAKING WITH TRADITION
Refreshing, creative and affordable snack ideas to offer
Perhaps there is a comfort in finding Danish
and croissants at every mid-morning break and cookies or brownies
in the afternoon. But is this really the best we can do? Or is it
laziness that keeps pastries resplendent and baked goods
irrefutable at break times?
Certainly, cost is a considerable factor. But similarly priced
substitutes that are enjoyable, healthful and just as easy to
obtain are only an inspiration away.
WHY BE GOOD?
Do attendees really want to stick to their diets? Look at what’s
snatched up in record time and what is left languishing on the
Part of the problem is hotels and other facilities are used to
providing those sugary carbs and they’re good at it. It takes some
creativity to come up with wholesome alternatives that actually
appeal to the crowd.
Ideally, breaks should include a mixture of healthful and
decadent options. More importantly, a boring break that does not
contribute to the meeting’s theme and objectives is a wasted
In the aim to please dieters, too often the “good-for-you” options
are low-fat, tasteless muffins that actually are full of sugar.
Yet, savvy, health-conscious attendees know to avoid these
disasters, and the less-informed attendees who think they should be
choosing these over a Danish are bitterly disappointed and vow to
never eat them again.
Why not take a lesson from spa menus, and emphasize color and
texture? For instance, to accommodate the increasingly popular
low-carb trend, offer an egg bar set up sundae-style with egg-white
scoops, sundae dishes and an array of low carb, high-protein
toppings, such as bacon, various cheeses, chives and salsa.
For groups interested in energy enhancement, give them the
opportunity to mix up some smart blender drinks. Items to include
are whole milk, honey, fruit pieces (bananas, kiwi, melon,
pineapples and strawberries all work well), and vanilla or
strawberry frozen yogurt. Also offer protein powder, ginseng and
ginkgo biloba. For those who want a concoction of decadent
ingredients, provide chocolate sauce, crushed Oreos and chocolate
frozen yogurt or ice cream.
A blender break can double as a team-building function, in which
groups square off and make drinks for their colleagues. Match
colored smoothies to T-shirt colors, name the blenders and let the
Many boutique hotels, like the W chain, have it right and are
promoting uniquely ambient offerings. Their customized breaks
address all the senses, with touches like mood music and evocative
aromatherapy scents. Planners can bring this integrated approach to
any venue with some ingenuity.
For instance, is your management team getting together for a
serious and stressful planning meeting? Do attendees need to remain
calm? Try a Japanese garden theme, with jasmine scenting the
entrances and exits, Zen-inspired gardens on mini tables for
attendees to design, relaxing existential Japanese music piped in
and make-them-yourself fresh egg rolls with an array of ingredients
to accommodate a variety of diet preferences.
Does the group need to feel invincible? Replace Zen gardens with
Samurai gear the attendees can wear. Papyrus scrolls with recipe
suggestions can help guide them toward creating the ultimate egg
roll. The entire experience is interactive, fun and team oriented
and will help keep the group working together and thinking
strategically as a unit, even during supposed downtime.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is
director of CME admin-istration for the department of medicine at
the University of California, San Francisco.
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