How to Go Local
Tap into one of the hottest food trends at your meeting by taking advantage of local cuisine.
The popular local food and drink movement has become an important part of meetings in the last couple years, and it’s easy to incorporate this trend into your functions. “People are asking about locally sourced more than they did a year ago,” says Sean DiCicco, vice president of food and beverage at Mandalay Bay. “I don’t think this is one of those fads that will fade away.”
In fact, Mandalay Bay now has a restaurant catering to the trend. “When we renovated the Delano tower, we had the opportunity to change Della’s Kitchen, so now it’s farm-to-table, with butcher block tables and locally sourced ingredients,” DiCicco says. The cattle are hand-selected in Nevada, sent to a butchering facility in California and brought back, and listed on the menu as Nevada Beef. While much of the produce comes from bountiful California, the café uses herbs from a local hydroponic facility, fruit from a local orchard, and cheese from Carson City, Nevada.
How to make sure your food and drink have local—and more environmentally friendly—flavor
- Inquire about regional breweries (especially those that run sustainable operations) and a restaurant’s craft beers.
- Offer craft cocktails that tell the agricultural or historical story of the area. Bonus: Have an educated bartender who can talk about where the drink’s ingredients were sourced.
- Plan a reception that pairs local wine or beer with locally sourced foods.
- Hire an expert for a couple hours who can answer questions about the beverages.
- Consider a craft beer dinner with beer flights for smaller groups.
- Find out if the venue has sustainable packaging for box lunches.
Requests for gluten-free and vegan meals increase every year. While they still constitute a very small percentage of all food and beverage requests, these preferences come up in every discussion about group catering.
Sean DiCicco, vice president of food and beverage at Mandalay Bay, says it’s up to planners to know their group’s food allergies and special requests, whether it’s nut-free, kosher, or halal.
In general, people today are more interested in being healthy. “Often, people are looking to cut out fat and sodium, or they’re just generally looking for a healthier meal,” DiCicco says, “and chefs are pretty creative at meeting these requests.”