Adding Special Flavor to Meetings with Local Cuisine

From experiential dining and celebrity chefs to delicious easy options, sharing the full menu of area eateries with attendees can be a draw for your next event.

Half of the thrill of attending a meeting or conference is getting to know a destination you might not have been to before—or reconnecting with an area you loved and want to discover more of.

Food plays a huge role in the culture of a place and what better way to ensure that your attendees are delighted by your next meeting destination, than by infusing the special flavors of your location into your event?

To find out more about how to add special local flavor to your next meeting we turned to the experts in Orlando, where the culinary scene is exploding and options abound.

Ingredients for a Successful Event

When you’re picking an event venue it’s important to consider what options will be nearby for attendees to easily experience the flavors offered by the city or region, said Casandra Matej, president & CEO, Visit Orlando.

While your attendees may be immediately familiar with Orlando’s theme parks, Matej says that the local dining scene has also become widely recognized, with Orlando named No. 2 Best Foodie City in America.

Overall, Orlando is home to over 6,000 restaurants representing 40 different international cuisines, Matej said.

Many of these restaurants are conveniently located near one of the most popular meeting venues—the Convention District. However, the team at Visit Orlando takes things a step further, making it a snap to know exactly which restaurants are located under a mile from the Orange County Convention Center with a handy guide.

“This guide promotes the top 10 restaurants we’d recommend that are within one mile of the OCCC,” Matej explained. “It also lists all of the nearly 80 eateries that surround the area within two miles, taking the guesswork out of where to plan your next meal when you’re in town for a meeting.”

Gourmet Tastes Within Reach

A major draw for attendees considering your event is the experiential component of the meeting. If you’re able to offer an experience they can’t get anywhere else, attendees are more likely to attend.

“Restaurants run by celebrity chefs or culinary award winners are a huge draw for any foodies you may have on your potential attendee list,” Matej said, pointing out that Orlando’s growing food community includes nominees of the coveted James Beard Award.

Orlando is also home to Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen, a new restaurant at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress from the Top Chef All-Stars winner, featuring cuisine inspired by tropical flavors and ingredients from Florida, including native fruits, vegetables, seafood and more.

Adding to the panache of dining in the area, this year—for the first time ever—MICHELIN Guide Miami, Orlando and Tampa was revealed, with inspectors finding four MICHELIN Starred restaurants in Orlando alone. Those restaurants include:

  • Capa Steakhouse & Bar — Four Seasons Resort Orlando At Walt Disney World® Resort
  • Soseki Modern Omakase
  • Knife & Spoon — The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
  • Kadence

In total, MICHELIN recognized a total of 34 Orlando restaurants, seven Bib Gourmands and 23 Recommended, further elevating the destination’s culinary reputation.

Matej says experiences like dining in these award winning venues can take your event from routine to “can’t miss” in the eyes of potential attendees.

Food as a Window to Cultural Diversity

Further expanding attendee palates, local eateries can help infuse events with diversity and offer attendees new and unique experiences.

Attendees looking for a foodie experience that won’t break the budget may enjoy experiential dining like Sloppy Joe’s, a legendary Key West saloon that opened last year at ICON Park in Orlando.

Diversity means making different options more accessible, and Matej says it’s important to ensure that options exist for all tastes. In Orlando many local eateries have carefully curated menus with an abundance of delicious, meatless delights.

For example, Ethos Vegan Kitchen, located conveniently in Winter Park, about 15 minutes northeast of downtown Orlando, is one of the area’s only full-service, all-vegan restaurants.

Share the Menu

No matter what dining options are available to attendees, the key to getting them excited about enjoying the flavors of your venue is communication, Matej says.

“It’s important to set the stage and create a buzz around some of these more experiential dining establishments,” Matej said. “It’s equally as important to let attendees know that delicious food options exist within a close proximity to your meeting place, so they’ll feel prepared for any situation.”

Need help setting the table for your next event? The professionals who know Orlando’s dining scene—and beyond—are here to help. Learn more and start planning your next meeting at

(Handout photo)