Convention centers have a long history of hosting important events in our culture. They have served as the setting for everyone from presidents and CEOs, to educators and religious leaders, and even technology and the creative arts. Yet despite the prominence these great venues hold within our society, convention centers have a reputation for producing institutional-grade, mediocre food. Until now.
The Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) and Proof of the Pudding have teamed up to reinvent the food and beverage program at the GICC. This new venture is called CulinAero by Proof of the Pudding, and at its core is a commitment to restaurant-quality food made with fresh, sustainable ingredients.
“The GICC is an established leader in hosting events and now we’re ready to build a leading food and beverage program that will continue to enhance our reputation,” said Mercedes Miller, interim executive director, GICC. “There are a lot of associations and companies looking for meeting destinations that can serve restaurant-quality food made with fresh ingredients, and we believe the GICC can provide value to this market.”
CulinAero by Proof of the Pudding differs from typical convention center fare by its commitment to restaurant-quality menus, preparation and, in particular, ingredients, produce, meats and fish sourced from local and regional organic farms.
“We’re thrilled to have a business partner like the GICC, who is so committed to such a respectable standard,” said Ben Witte, VP of operations, Proof of the Pudding. “The hospitality market is very competitive, and we believe creating a partnership committed to exceeding customer expectations in quality and value will give the GICC a competitive advantage.”
Executive chef Douglas J. Kieley will lead CulinAero and brings more than 20 years of training and dining experience. An Atlanta native, Kieley held previous culinary positions at The Ritz Carlton of Naples, New Orleans’ Commander’s Palace, and Dallas-based eatery, Eatzi’s.
“Our commitment is to bring restaurant style food into the convention center environment,” said Kieley. “Everywhere I’ve ever worked, we’ve had a reputation and standards to uphold. We made everything from scratch using top-notch ingredients. It’s all I know.”
Chef Kieley will have access to the GICC Culinary Arts Center, a 9,800-square-foot culinary complex, allowing the preparation and service of gourmet meals for up to 4,000 guests.
“The reinventing of the food and beverage experience at the GICC makes total sense,” said Alaina Williams, general manager, Proof of the Pudding. “We have tremendous support and buy-in from everyone involved including GICC management, Proof of the Pudding and our new chef, Doug Kieley. Everyone believes in growing the GICC brand by committing to a high level of service, coupled with the standard of providing fresh high quality food.”
CulinAero is part of a complete rebranding initiative that includes new logo, signage, decor, marketing strategy and website. The new tagline, Flavor Takes Flight, emphasizes the facility’s goal of reaching culinary excellence at the crossroads of business and travel.