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Idea Book: Virginia Aquarium (Sodexo) ACE 2018 Finalist

The Achievement in Catering & Events (ACE) awards honor those who have worked tirelessly to keep their clients thrilled and their companies on the cutting edge. Each year, caterers and event planners from around the globe submit their best work from the past year in hopes of being recognized as the best in the industry. Catersource’s annual awards show, also including the ICA CATIE awards, took place in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace on February 19, 2018.

Each company submitted two events for ACE consideration. Here is a look at the two events that elevated Virginia Aquarium’s Sodexo in the category of Events, under 2 million in revenue.

ONE: Commotion in the Ocean

With sustainable seafood at the heart of this event (an important initiative for Sodexo’s Sports & Leisure segment), Commotion in the Ocean focused its menu on blue catfish, an invasive species that is harming the Chesapeake Bay aquaculture. “We also believe in educating our guests in the difference they can make with the choice of seafood they cook and eat. Choosing fish that is invasive, or fish that is sustainable, will help our oceans for future generations,” said Joy Dunwoodie, Senior Marketing Manager for Sodexo.

“Our Executive Chef, Jason Congleton, created amazing dishes using blue catfish—and it was so great to see people love a dish made with an ingredient that is harming our local waters. The more we can use it in recipes, the better off our local environment will be,” she added.

Local fisherman also donated shellfish for the event, and sustainable practices were shared by the onsite chefs during the event.

Pre-event Commotion in the Ocean food station

Commotion in the Ocean petite dessert cones

Interested in submitting an entry for the 2019 awards season? Entries into ACE’s 2019 award program are now open!

Click here for the latest information on the 2019 conference & tradeshow.

TWO: Sustainable Seafood Festival

The event and menu was based on all sustainable seafood, and every part of the dish that was served for this event—including the serving vessel—was edible and locally sourced.

While Sodexo had planned to use lion fish, an invasive species, the shipment did not arrive in time. Two days prior to the event, a new recipe had to be created. With the competition tough via several restaurants also at the festival, the Sodexo team knocked it out of the part by educating attendees about the sustainability of blue crab. “Where it came from, how it was properly sourced, and the efforts that are going back into rebuilding the blue crab population of the Chesapeake Bay were all shared with the guests at the event,” said Joy Dunwoodie, Senior Marketing Manager for Sodexo.

A riff on popular chicken and waffles, Sodexo served “Coastal Chicken & Waffles”—a crispy Virginia blue crab fritter with citrus remoulade and island mousse (blood orange, mango, cilantro, and blue crab sugar) served in a mini waffle cone. 100% edible and sustainable!

Sustainable Seafood festival chefs in action

Coastal “chicken” and waffles

Click here for information about Catersource and the Art of Catering Food 2019.

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | Catersource, which includes print and digital content, as well as live education at both Catersource, the Art of Catering Food, and Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit.