NACE Experience: Culinary Journeys

NACE Experience: Culinary Journeys

By: Angie Moors

We took a culinary journey with Chef Rick Moonen (Bravo’s Top Chef Masters), Bert “Tito” Beveridge (Tito’s Handmade Vodka), and Chef Venoy Rogers (Executive Chef at Essensia at The Palms Hotel & Spa),  that explored sea-to-table cuisine, how to give back to your community, and how to incorporate these practices within your own company/restaurant/business.

Our minds & taste buds were blown away as Chef Moonen prepared our breakfast, live, on stage – describing every element and how we can incorporate sea-to-table in our menus. The meal consisted of home-style cornbread and biscuits, buffalo fish tostada topped with anti-oxidant coleslaw, cowboy beans and sweet potato & chorizo hash. Every bit of it was delicious and freshly prepared for us.

Tito, the founder & master distiller of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, spoke to us about “giving back” – all the ways we can give back to our community, and provided us with a very touching (teary-eyed) session on how he started his business by giving back to many charities and their events, and how important that is to him – as it should be to all of us too! “What goes around, comes around” and 8 years later – Tito’s Handmade Vodka is now one of the fastest-selling, fastest-growing, micro-distilleries on the market. During his presentation, we enjoyed and “toasted” with our very own, Tito’s “Texas Tea”.

We also heard from Chef Venoy Rogers, the Executive Chef at Essensia at The Palms Hotel & Spa and the Banquet Chef from the Diplomat Resort & Spa where the conference was located. They both spoke to us about their various experiences within the catering and events industry, giving back, learning curves/growing pains of starting out, and where it has brought them today. We were also able to meet, what seemed like hundreds, of staff members that worked at The Diplomat Resort & Spa and were a huge part of the service we received during our stay.

The room was beautifully decorated as if we were dining “under the sea” with murals of ocean-life decorating the walls, and bright colors surrounding our tables – we even had ships in the room! Lastly, we heard from the Houston Chapter and are all very excited to attend Experience 2017 at the Marriott Marquis, where there is a Texas shaped lazy river – yes, you read this correctly – Texas shaped! How cool is that? And, I am sure they will blow it out of the water – you don’t want to miss it!

Venoy RogersChef Venoy Rogers III is a 2006 graduate of the Culinary Institute of Platt College and holds eight medals from the American Culinary Federation. As he takes the reigns at Essensia at The Palms Hotel & Spa, he plans to maintain its local, organic and seasonal approach. Chef Rogers appeared in an episode of Food Network’s “Chef Wanted” with Anne Burrell, in which he beat out three other candidates to become the next chef de cuisine for the Las Vegas location of Dos Caminos.

TitoTito’s Handmade Vodka founder and master distiller Bert “Tito” Beveridge is a true pioneer in the world of micro distilling – in fact, it’s a world he helped create. Once a Geophysicist, he decided to pursue his passions and open a distillery. It took his company more than eight years to turn a profit. Today, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is one of the fastest-selling and fastest-growing micro distilleries on the market and remains one of the purest spirits available.

Rick MoonenChef Rick Moonen has devoted his career to being the country’s top culinary advocate for sustainable seafood. He has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Bravo’s hit TV series Top Chef Masters, and also served as a judge on Top Chef Las Vegas where his restaurant, RM seafood at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, served as the location for the show’s popular “Restaurant Wars” episode.