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Posts Tagged ‘brain food for conferences’

Did you catch Food for Thought on the Cover of Corporate & Incentive Travel?

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Are you a fan of Food for Thought? The concept of feeding yourself “brain food” for enhanced performance in the workplace and in meetings. In our Spring issue of Meeting Discoveries, “The Science of Food for Thought: Enhancing Meetings Through Food” we paired Executive Chef Craig Mason and Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength Systems in an interview on how they create food for thought menus, what those items are and best practices. The white paper helped this duo gain publicity and landed them in a 5 page spread in the August issue of Corporate & Incentive Travel, not to mention Chef Mason on the cover of the magazine.

The magazine article includes the science of food for thought and brain food basics by Andrea Sullivan and Executive Chef Craig Mason. Mason even discusses break stations here at The National Conference Center. For planners, you may find the best solutions for brain food challenge the most resourceful for booking meetings and conferences. There’s also a recipe from Sullivan and Mason; imagine something tasty that’s great brain fare and you’ll have a warm dish of stuffed chicken breast with asparagus, red pepper and asiago cheese. In the article, you’ll find out all you need to know about reinventing receptions, desserts, farm to fork, sustainable seafood and offsetting brain drain.


If you read the article, what were your thoughts?

Are Your Attendees Ready for Food for Thought?

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Assorted local cheeses at our May Tasting

In the community of event professionals, Food for Thought is often a topic of discussion. Without speaking too scientific, food for thought is defined as food options high in nutritional value which stimulates brain activity and enhances meeting performance, attention and overall experience. As research is performed and results of food for thought items are shared among meeting professionals in the industry, more planners are developing an interest in what their attendees are consuming and venues are rising to the requests. However, are meeting planners and venues the only ones excited about food for thought?

As a venue who is active in the #eventprofs community, we like listening and responding to what attendees are saying, online and offline. Walking through the halls yesterday, I heard “Boiled eggs, I’ve seen better snacks.” and “Hummus, it’s so bland.”

After approaching Executive Chef Craig Mason with the news, he said,

“Planners are all about food for thought. But, when we place a ‘build your own trail mix’ on the break stations with mixed nuts, raisins, dried blueberries, banana chips, Reeses Pieces and plain M&Ms. Attendees kill the Reeses Pieces and M&Ms, leaving the rest.”

However, as event professionals we’ve come a long way and these same attendees who prefer the candy may also be the ones who are wondering where the fried chicken is at lunch. Our current break-station rotation includes food for thought items such as hard boiled eggs with flavored salts, hummus with pretzels and crackers, vegetable crudité, assorted cheese cubes and a ‘make your own trail mix’ bar. On Fridays, our break-stations feature cookies and brownies as a special treat; attendees also won’t feel the 2:00 sugar crash as most meetings adjourn early afternoon on a Friday, but for attendees to choose the unhealthier option demonstrates to a venue and for meeting planners, we still have a long way to go.

What’s the solution? Education! For the break-stations, we’re designing a food for thought card explaining why those options were chosen for the break-station, the benefits and how to make smarter choices for day-to-day healthy living and enhanced meeting performance. It’s all about educating planners, venues and attendees on the subject of food for thought. Feel free to read our Food for Thought white paper with Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength Systems.

What has been your encounter with attendees and break-station choices? Is it favorable or do you also view this as an opportunity for education?


Building a Healthy Meeting Breakfast

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Stop! Before you exit the hotel breakfast buffet line, what’s on your plate? Breakfast is intended to be the biggest meal, but also serves a purpose to feed our brain for a high performance day. In the Spring issue of Meeting Discoveries, the article The Science of Food for Thought: How Food Enhances Meetings, elaborates on research by Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength Systems who discovered best meeting practices when it comes to food and Executive Chef Craig Mason who witnessed positive changes in meeting attendees first hand at The National Conference Center.

How do you build a healthy meeting breakfast?

  • Cut-out the pastries or cut-them in halfdanishes, muffins, sugared cereals and white breads are loaded with unnecessary sugars and white flour that “fog” your brain, not allowing you to perform at your full potential. If your meeting venue serves muffins, request they bake smaller portions for a muffin that is half the size. You can also request the chef use pure honey (with out fructose corn syrup) instead of sugar to sweeten the muffins. Please keep in mind, these requests should be made months in advance to the Food & Beverage department of the hotel or conference center. As Executive Chef Mason says, “If they’re not willing to work with you on this, then there are probably many other facets of the meeting that they also won’t be willing to work with you on either.”

  • Proteins with a balance of carbohydrates - The best way to start your day is with protein. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and Choline, a chemical building block for learning. Served on a whole grain bagel to sustain energy and you’ve created the perfect breakfast. Turkey bacon is another healthy protein to be eaten in moderation. Hard-boiled eggs on break stations are also a nice gesture.


  • Lighter is better than none – If you’re a light breakfast eater or don’t usually eat breakfast, it’s still very important to eat food with your brain in mind (no pun intended). Yogurt, granola, and bananas are all known to improve cognitive functioning and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces happiness. Light is also key to staying awake when it comes to lunch servings.


Keeping these concepts in mind at breakfast – lower sugar intake, smaller portions, less white flour and more whole wheat, balance between carbohydrates and proteins such as eggs, and a light breakfast is better than none – you’ll be on your way to a more productive meeting. To learn more about how menu choices enhances mood, learning and performance in meetings, read “The Science of Food for Thought: How Food Enhances Meetings“. What have been your biggest lessons learned in terms of meeting foods? Have you found best practices that work for your attendees or ones you’ll avoid?

    A New Years Recipe to Gear Up For 2011 Meetings & Conferences

    Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

    The perfect New Years Recipe from Executive Chef Craig Mason will have you well-prepared for your meetings in January. One of the main ingredients is kidney beans which contains 18% vitamin B1, per cup. “This B vitamin is crucial to the function and creation of brain cells and is involved in the synthesis of a substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is needed to keep a person’s memory functioning properly. Eating just 1 cup of kidney beans daily may help increase and maintain cognitive function and keep memories intact” (

    Bring this recipe to a social gathering and serve with bowls or small tasting cups.


    3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    5 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 tbsp salt
    2 tsp chili powder
    1 tsp dried oregano
    1 tsp tomato paste
    1 can of chipotle chile en adobo
    1 pound ground turkey
    12 oz. Mexican lager-style beer
    14.5 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juice
    15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    Monterrey Jack Cheese to garnish


    Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, salt, chili powder, and oregano. Cook for 3 minutes. On a cutting board, cut the chipotle chiles and save 1 tsp of sauce. Stir in the tomato paste and chipotle chile and sauce. Cook for another minute. Add the turkey, and stir until meat loosens up and loses its raw color. Combine the Mexican-lager beer with ingredients and reduce heat, simmer for 7-8 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes and crush with cooking spoon. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 10 minutes.

    Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with the Monterrey Jack Cheese.