“Feast of the East” has come to the Halifax Convention Centre. Launched in August 2019, the culinary promotion treats guests to the region’s distinct cuisine and food specialists.
For insights on what makes the City a top destination for foodies, here’s Greg Smith (Director, Food and Beverage) and Christophe Luzeux (Executive Chef) with the Halifax Convention Centre.
What makes Halifax cuisine unique?
Greg: Our city has been growing by leaps and bounds, and our food culture has been evolving as well. Our chefs are incorporating more multicultural influences in their dishes while still embracing and harmonizing locally-produced ingredients.
Christophe: Halifax is a foodie hotspot that’s making its mark on the international map. It’s not only the incredible food culture that’s elevating our status, but it’s also the award-winning and locally-craft beers, spirits, ciders, and wines that complement any dish. These influences for food and beverage are showcased in our menus and menu pairings at the Halifax Convention Centre.
How are guests’ expectations evolving?
Greg: Local, local, Local. Our guests not only want to experience Halifax as a local, they also want to eat meals that use locally-sourced products. They want to know how our dishes are prepared and are impressed with the quality ingredients that our talented chefs use in our scratch kitchen to take a meal from ordinary to extraordinary. That is owed through the relationships we’ve built with our partners (e.g., farmers, fishers, producers, etc.) to ensure we’re using the highest quality products.
Christophe: Since we create each dish from scratch at the Halifax Convention Centre, we’re able to tell our guests exactly what’s in every dish and customize it to meet any dietary consideration. As these considerations continue to grow, we are creating menus with these restrictions in mind and making it standard practice, such as using gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour in all our stocks and soups. Our culinary team takes great pride in creating delicious dishes without sacrificing taste because of dietary restrictions.
How do you keep up with these trends and expectations at the Halifax Convention Centre?
Christophe: Our annual culinary team menu planning starts with reviewing industry trends and requests by event planners and organizers from the previous year. This allows our culinary team to build menus and dishes based on these findings so what we offer will already be in place before they ask! Overall, however, we are committed to staying on-trend and ahead of the curve. This is easier to do when we prepare in-house from scratch over 90% of what we serve our guests. We take great pride in the fact that we don’t server pre-made dishes from our kitchen. We know every ingredient that is added and where it is sourced.
Why is it important for meeting planners to collaborate with your kitchen on their food and beverage plans?
Greg: Food and beverage used to be just an amenity for a conference or event. Now, planners are looking for it to be one of the significant components and “wow” factor. We understand that food and beverage is what people remember about an event, and that it is a reflection of the decisions made by the event planner on behalf of their attendees. We work with planners to bring their meeting themes to life not just in our incredible venue space, but through what we serve to guests.
Christophe: We are always looking to create and produce new and out-of-the-ordinary dishes for groups of 10 or 2000 that incorporate local flavor. This is what we do every day, and we enjoy building relationships with the planners and adapting to the new trends and challenges that come our way.
To show how much we enjoy it, we invited planners from across Canada to issue a challenge to our culinary team by picking a unique ingredient that our team would need to incorporate into a dish. The planners certainly didn’t disappoint!
See how the Halifax Convention Centre’s culinary team rose to the challenge during Feast of the East.
The picture above: Pierre Gaudet, Executive Sous Chef of Halifax Convention Centre, garnishes an appetizer dish of Atlantic salmon tartare with local greens and shoots, topped with a coconut fried oyster using a surprise ingredient from the Feast of the East challenge.