April 05, 2017

Meeting and eating go hand-in-hand. Food is a major part of our everyday lives and it remains an important staple of any group gathering. As such, today's planners are raising the bar when it comes to dishing up creative menus that elevate the event experience. 

"Food can and should be part of telling your event story," says Tracy Stuckrath, CSEP, CMM, CHC, CFPM, president and chief connect officer of Thrive! Meetings & Events. "Benefits of creativity, personalization and unexpected elements helps unify the event, generates shareable moments, fosters conversation about the event and cultivates relationships."

The right F&B can be used to highlight a meetings' theme and reinforce the messaging, whether it is the use of color, a company logo on an ice bar or a decadent dessert designed as a product. Stuckrath also suggests creating unexpected elements within an F&B presentation. "Choose dishes not typically offered at your events and/or build in interactivity and participatory elements to offerings," she says. "The key is to present food and beverage in a captivating way." 

At Rosen Plaza in Orlando, Florida, Executive Chef Michael McMullen takes the creative concept to new levels. For the past 10 years, McMullen has enjoyed sharing his personal touch and made-from-scratch confections with meeting planners, creating unique menus to complement the versatile range of options within the hotel's 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space.


Creative entertaining abounds at Rosen Plaza's newest venue, 3NINE, which offers built-in theming and AV, including a stage with lighting, sound system, customizable flat screens throughout, a dance floor, two bars inside and a poolside bar outside.


McMullen was once tasked with creating a "mad scientist lab" for 2,000 conference attendees who had just an hour break from meetings. He and his team prepared six buffet stations that included spiraling fruit kebabs, hot nacho cheese flowing into beakers and a liquid nitrogen ice cream station. "It was a challenge to offer creative food to so many people in such a short amount of time but it worked well and was a lot of fun," he recalls.

Visit RosenPlaza.com to learn more.