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Honoring Superior Customer Service

March 18th, 2014 by

Recently, The National Conference Center family gathered to celebrate outstanding customer service and honor our very own Janice Fullerton, conference planning manager. As the highest honor an NCC employee can receive, recognized individuals help set the standards for others to follow. Referred to as the “planner extraordinaire” by her colleagues, Janice will go to great lengths to ensure all groups, from largest to smallest, are completely taken care of. Her inspiring story will be shared along with previous recipients and will be displayed at our property. Please join us in congratulating Janice on her well-deserved award!


Soup-Tastic — Episode 7 “Gazpacho”

March 14th, 2014 by

Learn how to make a delicious chilled soup in just two minutes! In the final episode of our Winter Culinary Series “Soup-Tastic,” Executive Chef Mason shows how to make gazpacho! Thanks for tuning in with us this winter. We’ve had a blast although we’re ready for some warm weather! Catch us this Spring as we tackle Brunch Basics!

Gazpacho Recipe

2 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
6 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
20 ounces V8
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper


Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not over process!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and cilantro. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

2014 Chocolates Galore & More Recap

March 11th, 2014 by

Fabulous food, a silent auction, free-flowing champagne, music, dancing… all for a great cause! On February 21st, hundreds of guests celebrated the 27th Annual Chocolates Galore & More here at The National Conference Center. We had the pleasure of starting our day bright and early with Holly Morris from FOX 5 DC for a sneak peak of the evening’s festivities! Event attendees indulged in rich, luscious chocolates, exquisite desserts and mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres prepared by the area’s finest restaurants and caterers and showcased in a competition for Best Presentation and Best Taste (Critic’s Choice are determined by four local judges and People’s Choice are judged by event attendees.) Judges included Chef Daniel Thomas,  a former Capitol Hill chef, who has cooked for President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, United States Senators, and numerous foreign Heads of State; Chef Cynthia Anderson, chef/owner of Intimate Sentiments; Rebekah Pizana, food journalist and pastry chef and Lisa Broyhill, radio personality and TV producer. Proceeds from the event support the YMCA Loudoun County’s Caring For Community campaign, which provides essential scholarships and much-needed funds to local Loudoun County families who turn to the YMCA for help.

We were thrilled to once again, win the People’s Choice for Best Presentation (Dessert) for Executive Chef Mason’s #BitsandBliss! A devilishly delicious dark chocolate mousse bedazzled with rich brownie bits and drizzled with silky caramel, coupled with a dash of sea salt, layered with whipped cream and finished with a fresh raspberry and chocolate shavings.

Congrats to our team and all of the winners from the evening!



Best Taste Dessert - Cherry’s Cheesecake and Delight’s

Best Presentation Dessert - Dutch Girl Cookie Factory

Best Taste Hors D’Oeurvre - Salamander Resort

Best Presentation Hors D’Oeurvre - Lansdowne Resort



Best Taste Dessert - Cherry’s Cheesecakes and Delight’s

Best Presentation Dessert – The National Conference Center

Best Taste Hors D’Oeuvre - Lansdowne Resort

Best Presentation Hors D’Oeuvre - Lansdowne Resort


A special thanks to Tom Barry for capturing the day so beautifully!


dsc_2258Phillip Saims, NCC’s Director of Sales & Marketing & Holly Morris

dsc_2271Executive Chef Mason walks Holly through the steps of
creating his winning dish from last year’s event







Soup-Tastic — Episode 6 “Perfect Chili”

March 7th, 2014 by

In Episode 6 of our Winter Culinary Series “Soup-Tastic,” Executive Chef Craig Mason shows us a classic recipe for chili. Perfect for this March snow!

Perfect Chili Recipe

  • 1 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound diced beef ribeye
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded diced
  • 1 serrano pepper seeded, diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 12 -ounce bottle amber beer
  • 1 can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, sliced scallions and/or sour cream, for topping


Heat a large heavy bottom pot and add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt and cook 2 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, white pepper, black pepper, oregano and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste is brick red, about 6 minutes (add a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick). Add the beer and simmer until almost completely reduced, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the, tomatoes, beef broth and beans and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili thickens slightly, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Add some beef broth if the chili is too thick. Ladle into bowls and top with the, cheese, scallions and/or sour cream.

Soup-Tastic — Episode 5 “Gumbo”

February 28th, 2014 by

Just in time for Mardi Gras! In Episode 5 of our Winter Culinary Series “Soup-Tastic,” Executive Chef Craig Mason prepares a New Orleans classic, Gumbo!

Gumbo Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound smoked andouille sausage
  • 2 pounds chicken thigh meat diced skin off
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon gumbo file powder
  • hot sauce

Creole Seasoning Spice Blend

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme


In a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven or large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and chicken and cook until well browned, about 8 minutes. Remove the sausage  and chicken with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

Combine the remaining 1/2 cup oil and the flour in the same Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 minutes, to make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate.  Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the reserved sausage, salt, cayenne, and bay leaves, stir, and cook for 2 minutes. Stirring, slowly add the chicken stock, and cook, stirring, until well combined. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Stir in the green onions, parsley, and file powder, simmer for an addition 10 minutes. Serve over hot steamed white rice with hot sauce on the side.


Soup-Tastic — Episode 4 “Bouillabaisse”

February 21st, 2014 by

If you love seafood, then you’ll really enjoy this quick and simple recipe for bouillabaisse, a classic French stew.


Bouillabaisse Recipe

  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup leeks, julienned
  • 3 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • 1 cup fennel, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds fresh white fish (cod, grouper, haddock)
  • 2  pound shrimp, peeled and devined
  • 1 pound mussels
  • 1 pound little neck clams
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 gallon fish stock

Serves 8
Saute garlic, leeks, fennel, and tomatoes in olive oil. Deglaze with white wine.  Add pinch of saffron. Add seafood and broth and simmer for 8-10 minutes and clams and mussels are open. Add juice and zest of orange, parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with crispy French bread for dipping.

Soup-Tastic — Episode 3 “Clam Chowder”

February 14th, 2014 by

If you’re home and trying to stay warm, give this delicious Clam Chowder recipe a try! Don’t forget to post your best winter soup recipe to our Facebook page for a chance to win a private, outdoor movie screening for 30 people at NCC!



Clam Chowder Recipe 

2T Butter
8 oz Bacon diced
6 oz Onion diced
4 oz Celery diced
1 oz Garlic chopped
1t Thyme leaves
8 oz Potatoes diced
8 oz Vegetable broth
24 oz Clam Juice
8 oz Heavy cream
16 oz Chopped clams
4T Flour
1 Bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté bacon in butter until crispy, add onions garlic and celery.  Sauté until translucent.  Add flour and stir to make a roux.

Add vegetable broth, clam juice, diced potatoes, thyme, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Add chopped clams and heavy cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

NCC Celebrates ‘National Wear Red Day’

February 10th, 2014 by

On February 7th, NCC participated in National Wear Red Day in support of the national effort to raise awareness and end heart disease among women. Each department showed their support including our Food & Beverage team, who prepared a number of “red” foods. The menu included red pasta (spaghetti with low sodium marinara sauce, diced tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes), perfect polenta (mixed with cherry tomatoes, roasted red bell pepper and sun-dried tomato), everyone’s favorite red food, pizza and a sweet “red” treat, red velvet cupcakes! Employees and guests also had a chance to learn about heart health through a series of educational materials provided by the American Heart Association.

Enjoy some photos from our celebration.


Soup-Tastic — Episode 2 “Thickening Agents”

February 7th, 2014 by

In Episode 2 of our Winter Culinary Series Soup-Tastic, Executive Chef Craig Mason shows us various ways of thickening soups including the different stages of roux. Don’t forget to post your best winter soup recipe to our Facebook page for a chance to win a private, outdoor movie screening for 30 people at NCC!


Soup-Tastic — Episode 1 “Chicken Stock”

January 31st, 2014 by

In our new Winter Culinary Series Soup-Tastic, Executive Chef Craig Mason will cover the soup basics from stocks and thickening agents, mastering the perfect chili to advanced techniques like bouillabaisse. To kick off the series, Chef shows us how to make a delicious chicken stock. **Find out how you can win a private, outdoor movie screening for 30 people at NCC on our Facebook page!


Chicken Stock

4 pounds chicken bones, chopped
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
1/2 head celery, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup whole peppercorns
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs rosemary
4 whole cloves garlic
6 sprigs fresh thyme
cold water as needed
Toss chicken bones with oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast until the bones a rich golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer the bones and add vegetables to a large stockpot, add cold water to cover,  and the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 3-4 hours. Remove from the heat and strain through a mesh strainer into a clean pot. Use immediately or let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.