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Aimee Francaes holding tongs with a steak on the grill

Tales from the Belly of the Beast – An Interview with Aimee Francaes

Aimee Francaes and her husband designed a restaurant like no other — locally sourced ingredients prepared, butchered, and preserved in house, a comprehensive accommodation of those with food allergies, and a staff so well-trained that everyone can feel safe that their needs will be met. Oh, and the food is amazing.   When a friend heard I was going to celebrate women who are making history in food and beverage for Women’s History Month, Aimee Francaes immediately sprang to mind. Aimee and the love of her life, Jesse Hassinger opened Belly of the Beast almost three years ago with a…

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Slow Food

Slow Food is a Fast Solution

January is #SlowCookerMonth, and while slow cookers can be a comfort food staple at many cook-offs and potlucks, I want to use this opportunity to separate the idea of slow cookers and slow food. All around us, and in communities across the world, there are distinctive food cultures that combine locally grown foods with generations of tradition and culture to make delectable meals available for mass consumption. We make those local food cultures more vulnerable when we don’t support them in our own diets and grocery budgets. The Slow Food movement is one way we act inclusively toward food culture.…

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Ramadan Mubarak (Happy Ramadan), An Important Primer

There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims, 22% of the world’s population, which means Ramadan is a big part of many people’s lives, probably several people you know. In the meetings and events industry, it’s also a unique time because it directly involves the consumption or non-consumption of food.   What is Ramadan About? Broadly speaking, Ramadan is a month-long way to cultivate self-discipline, a sort of spiritual detox, that brings about good habits of worship and day-to-day practices to be carried out throughout the year. “The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint, and generosity, while observing God’s commandments,” according…

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Planning for LGBT Guests – Based on What I Know About Planning for Guests With Special Dietary Needs

I have seen a tremendous amount of social-media backlash against “religious freedom” laws in North Carolina (HB2) and Mississippi (HB1523), both of which allow businesses and nonprofits to discriminate against LGBT people in accordance with their religious beliefs. More than 100 major corporations (Google, Apple, Bank of America, and other powerhouses) oppose the North Carolina ordinance. Pepsi, Choice Hotels and Hyatt have publicly opposed the Mississippi law. And, of course, meetings are pulling out in droves. But organizations that cannot afford to cancel at the last minute have no choice but to meet in these states. Planning for LGBT attendees is similar to…

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What Event Planners Can Learn from Ancient Rome?

The culinary world seems to discover a new dining trend every five minutes, but when it comes down to it, banquets haven’t changed all that much. There might be some inspiration and ideas event planners can learn from ancient Rome. I recently read this very entertaining and informative piece about history’s ten greatest banquets, and I was struck by what they had in common, all the way back to the days of Nero. They were once-in-a-lifetime events full of entertainment and surprise. They were opportunities for people to show off their wealth. But most importantly, whether it was dormice sprinkled with…

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Brazil Eventos & Transparency

As an international speaker and Food & Beverage expert, I've found at least one universal truth - allergies are present in all countries and, therefore, a place must be set at the table for attendee safety and trust. I speak on a number of topics when I travel, including legislation and legality of meetings, efficient food and beverage budgeting, custom eater menu planning, and more. Next week I'll be in Brazil discussing important food trends from around the world and how to seamlessly incorporate these exciting trends into your meetings and events for an experience your attendees will devour. I’ve…

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The Next Frontier is Dine-Arounds: Eating in Chefs’ Homes

Most conference planners want to plug their attendees into the vibe of the city they’re in, but when planning around a jam-packed education schedule, it can be a challenge to find the time. One tried-and-true solution is the dine-around: Send small groups to different restaurants around the city, to allow attendees to engage with their surroundings and taste what the locals eat. Recently, a dizzying number of tech startups have pushed this one step further, offering visitors a chance to eat in the homes of locals. This gives visitors the opportunity to learn, over the course of a few hours,…

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