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Thought Leaders

On a sunny, pleasant Las Vegas afternoon in March, and with the Frank Gehry-designed Keep Memory Alive Event Center as its backdrop, leaders from all aspects of the catering and events industry gathered to honor four award recipients.

The event began with a stroll through the gardens surrounding the building to enjoy the “Zen Den Experience” with activations that touted mindfulness and a heightening of senses, such as brain art creation (a concept that creates artwork using only brainwaves). Two satisfying temperance beverages were served during this aspect of the event, both containing brain stimulating nutrients.

Blueberries, a prominent ingredient in the Blueberry Lime mocktail (shown), are known for their powerful antioxidant protection, ability to improve motor skills, and reversal of short-term memory loss associated with aging or age-related conditions. A second beverage was the Kale-aid mocktail: Kale is protein-rich with iron, folate, and vitamin B6—all needed for brain molecules like serotonin and dopamine.

During the lunch—which featured entrees plated two ways: one representing right brain thinking and one representing the left brain—keynote speaker Jay Jay puzzled the audience with a gimmick about the way brains process information.

For the left brain (on left): sous vide salmon medallion with shiso powder, hazelnut-celery root cake, shaved fennel, maitake, edamame salad, and pomegranate-port gelee. For the right brain (on right): roasted salmon with hazelnut-celery root purée, edamame-maitake fennel ragout, pomegranate port reduction, and fried shiso leaves (both gluten free). A vegetarian option with roasted cauliflower steak swapped for salmon was also available.

Also served during the keynote were a trio of brain-activating “snacks” such as shaved broccoli salad with hibiscus chickpea purée and red frilly mustard greens; cranberry-beet mousse with toasted pecan gremolata; and walnut risotto with truffle crème fraiche and pomelo zest.

Many thanks to CSI DMC’s Debi Kinney, DMCP and Angela Dowd, DMCP for their work on this event, as well as sponsors Keep Memory Alive Event Center; Cut and Taste; BBJ Linen; AE&[email protected]; Sound Off; Chrstie’s Photography Solutions; Escape on Demand; AMDD; Mad Concepts; All Night Long Entertainment; Sktch Events; and Informa Connect.

As dessert was served (a coconut tahini bar rich in cashew butter, chocolate espresso ganache, and pistachio), award recipients were first honored by colleagues and then stepped on stage to accept and offer thanks. Presented were the Richard Carbotti Gala Award to Larry Green of International Event Products; the Michael Roman Lifetime Achievement Award to Lon Lane of Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions; The SE Lifetime Achievement Award to the late Patti Shock of Las Vegas’ The International School of Hospitality; and the Steve Kemble Leadership Award to Melissa Fromento of Informa Connect Catersource + The Special Event.

All photos courtesy Wasio Photography

Haunting violin music met guests enroute to the “Zen Den”

Guests tried out “Silence Disco Meditation” via provided headphones

Dylan Wint, M.D., a behavioral specialist treating neurodegenerative disorders, welcomed lunch guests to the event and the facility

"Special Event" magazine Director of Content, Lisa Hurley, addressed the audience and spoke of her father-in-law in conjunction with the theme of memory care

Australian keynote Jay Jay used his skills as a magician, comedian, and speaker to engage the audience

From left: Lon Lane IV, his father (and honoree) Lon Lane, and Marcia Lane attempt to work out Jay Jay’s slight-of-hand gimmick during the keynote

Larry Green with his Carbotti award

Lon Lane addresses the audience after accepting his award

Lenny Telerico presented the SE Lifetime Achievement Award to Donnell Bayot, former NACE past President and Director of Academic Affairs at The International School of Hospitality, who accepted for Patti Shock

Debbie Myers-Shock, CSEP, CTEP, provided context on past Kemble award winners

Melissa Fromento poses with Steve Kemble after receiving her award

Gift bags for the guests hung on branches pre-award ceremony

Volunteers of the Hands on Hundred program offered gift bags to guests as they left the Center. Inside, a tiny (rubber) brain!


Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | Catersource and Special Events magazines, including all digital content for both websites and e-newsletter products. She also vets, hires, guides and coordinates all live education at Catersource Conference & Tradeshow, Art of Catering Food, Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit, and bridge content at The Special Event.