When you think of convention food, what comes to mind? Mystery meat? Inedible veggies? Hunger?
It’s not easy being a captive, and famished, meeting or event attendee, but the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC), in partnership with Atlanta caterer Proof of the Pudding, plans to sate its starving masses through a new food and beverage program.
This venture is called CulinAero by Proof of the Pudding; at its core is a commitment to restaurant-quality food made with fresh, sustainable ingredients that come largely from local and regional organic farms. The effort will extend to concession stands.
CulinAero is led by executive chef Douglas J. Kieley, an Atlanta native with 20 years’ experience in kitchens at the Ritz-Carlton Naples, New Orleans’ Commander’s Palace and Dallas-based Eatzi’s. He and his team plan to be able to prepare and serve gourmet meals for up to 4,000 guests at a time.
CulinAero is part of a rebranding initiative that includes a new logo, signage, decor, marketing strategy and website. “Culin” comes from the word, “culinary”; “aero” comes from “aerospace,” in reference to GICC’s proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Here’s a look at the then and the now.
- Breakfast, then: Scrambled eggs with herb-roasted potatoes or grits, chicken or sausage links, bacon or turkey sausage.
- Now: Poached farm-fresh eggs on seared crab cakes, basil choron sauce and sweet potato hash.
- Lunch then: Roasted chicken flavored with chile, cumin and garlic, and Spanish rice.
- Now: Blue cheese-crusted beef tenderloin with truffle mashed potatoes and a port demi-glace.
- Dinner then: Steak and potatoes (twice-baked).
- Now: Sesame-seared Atlantic salmon with wasabi soy and black udon noodles.
Of course, the proof really will be in the tasting.
GICC is Georgia’s second-largest convention center, adjacent to one of the world’s busiest airports and 10 minutes from downtown Atlanta. It has 150,000 square feet of exhibit space and, according to spokeswoman Suzanne Forte, hosts about 1,000 meetings and events per year.