As one of the largest meeting and training facilities in the East Coast, The National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia, has developed a healthy meeting/eating program. John Walsh, director of food and beverage, along with Executive Chef Chris Ferrier, host a Breakfast of Champions every quarter and share their healthy tips.
The breakfast menu starts with Antioxidant Shooters, Mini Nonfat Greek Yogurt Parfaits with Chia Seeds and Organic Granola and Berries. It’s a fact…healthy, low sugar, high protein foods for meeting breaks allow attendees to focus better, stay alert and stay involved in the conversation. Here’s just a few break and breakfast ideas we’ve researched:
- Greek yogurt probiotic are high in protein.
- Eggs are healthier than we thought. See new medical USDA studies.
- Strawberries are high in vitamin C and low fat.
- Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant foods.
- Avocado oil contains nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals, providing beneficial plant compounds like 81 micrograms lutein and zeaxanthin, which research suggests may help maintain eye health as we age.
Chef and John continue to create healthy food options for all meetings and events at The National. Here are a few of their food trends for 2016. To see the full list, click here.
Fresh-and-local continues to be what meeting planners and guests request. “Our guests are delighted to learn that they’re not only getting healthy food but they’re also supporting local farms,” said Walsh. Healthy, simple, good food is always in style. It is sometimes a challenge since The National can serve over 1,000 meals a day, but Executive Chef Chris Ferrier meets with local farmers and suppliers daily to see what is fresh that he can incorporate into his menus.
Small plates and small bites are popular. Guests prefer to try many different options as opposed to one heavy, sit-down meal. Consider doing tapas type food stations where guests can try a variety of different items. Be sure to include vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free choices as now requested by a growing number of people. We mark all our items and let guests know which are gluten-free.
Tell a story. Guests not only want to know where their food comes from but they like to know the story behind the food. Chef and our culinary team often are the ‘entertainment’ as they discuss and share stories about the farmers and local suppliers at each table. And the story is not just about the source of the food but also about the chef, the sommelier and the people involved. It’s all about the experience—socialization, engagement, the food, the people, the setting.
To learn more about our food program and healthy food options, discuss these ideas with your sales associate or conference planner. We are always open to your ideas.