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Conference Food

It never ceases to amaze me how much food my company provides at our conferences – and not always of the healthiest sort. It definitely seems to have a correlation with being a private company. For instance, I also attend conferences put on by a non-profit, where meals are on your own, and snacks are fruit, pretzels, popcorn, or maybe cookies. They also tend to be held in places where the food is reasonably-priced – but not so with my company’s recent conference.

Since we were staying in Miami this time, I nearly had a heart attack looking at the dinner prices of the hotel restaurants, where low end entrée items were around $25 (high end was $50-$80). A fruit cup cost $9.50, and the bottled water in the hotel room was $10. Also, the food provided left a little to be desired at times for those trying to be healthy. Here’s a list of what they fed us this past week.


This was the same every day (which got old) and consisted of: danishes; muffins; mini boxes of cereal, but with only cow’s milk to put on it; yogurt; fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries). Not too bad, but difficult to get protein, especially if you have dairy problems.


Some of these were better than others, although again, not often friendly to the dairy-challenged.

Sunday: We were on our own here, so I got an overpriced tuna salad, with pita bread wedges that were alternately stale and soggy, supplemented with my own yellow bell pepper.

Monday: Green bean salad; roasted tomatoes with prosciutto; tomatoes with mozzarella; turkey and Swiss sandwiches; chicken club sandwiches; a vegetable wrap (all sandwiches had cheese); and desserts of brownies and tropical fruit salad.

Tuesday: Basic salad (lettuce, tomatoes, olives, red onion); macaroni salad; coleslaw; and various sandwiches, all of which had cheese – portabella mushroom, pulled chicken, roast beef, turkey, and ham. Desserts (also doubling as our afternoon snack) were: chocolate mousse cups; coffee-flavored éclairs; Rice Krispie squares; pink marshmallows (which seemed very random), and little tarts with raspberries.

Wednesday: Chicken tortilla soup; tortilla chips with salsa, salsa verde, guacamole, and sour cream; rolls and butter; fruit salad; black bean and corn salad; avocado, cucumber, lettuce and tomato salad; shrimp in lime vinaigrette; pulled chicken; pork; beef quesadillas; refried beans; with corn or flour tortillas. Desserts were: guanabana tarts, tres leches cake, Diablo chocolate cake, toffee banana cake, guava mousse, creme catalana, and chocolate and mango pudding.



Sunday: Most pathetic dinner ever at an event, I think because it was employees only pizza that had gone stone cold and congealed by the time we were allowed to eat (over an hour after it was delivered), and one lonely salad for all 20+ employees. Luckily I’d known about the pizza issue and got a grilled snapper with salsa wrap beforehand, which held up quite well despite sitting for so long.


Monday: This was our welcome reception, with various stations of food. Build your own burrito with flour or corn tortillas; chicken or mahi-mahi, with add-ons of salsa, salsa verde, guacamole, source cream, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, and rice (noticing a theme?); seafood or vegetable paella; beef; bits of spicy gazpacho soup; shrimp with coconut foam. Desserts were: banana rum truffles (very tasty); cheesecake lollipops (coated in chocolate); mini key lime pies, and almond and passion fruit "cigars" (wrapped in chocolate).


Tuesday: I was on my own, and had a ridiculously expensive dinner of seaweed salad, with shrimp and vegetable tempura, including only two small pieces of shrimp, for $33!

Wednesday: The Gala event. Appetizers were: vegetables and dip;; a fruit plate; cheese and crackers; BBQ chicken skewers; bite-sized spanikopita; shrimp and cocktail sauce; pita and roasted red pepper hummus; and some bruschetta with beef. Dinner itself was: rolls and butter; salad with options to add egg, bacon, or cheese; pasta; sweet potatoes in cheese sauce; tilapia; roasted vegetables; freshly-carved roast beef. Dessert consisted of a wide variety of cakes, such as cheesecake, key lime, banana, chocolate, vanilla, and more.


And lest I forget, at the evening reception and gala events, alcohol flowed free and fast. With all of that, it’s sometimes easy to give in to temptation and the pressures of social eating. And so it was very nice, and a good reminder, to talk to a woman who has known me since my heavier days, and have her tell me how impressed she was that I had kept my weight down for over 7 years. She even said, “You’re my hero for that.” I have to say, hearing that was sweeter than any dessert.

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