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May 2019 Educational Program

21 May, 2019
10:30 AM - 1:30 PM
City Springs
1 Galambos Way
Sandy Springs, Georgia
United States
MPI Georgia

Serving Up Food & Beverage That Will Have Your Attendees Craving More!

Are you starved for new and exciting ways to breath life into your catering options? Need to spice up that blah chicken lunch? Do your breakfast and break options leave you feeling empty? Does trying to accommodate special dietary requests stir up anxiety?

Food and beverage is one of the most significant aspects when planning a meeting to most attendees so pull up a seat to the table for this fast-paced panel of experts representing every field of the meetings and events world. This session will guide planners who are seeking to impress attendees with sophisticated palates.

Topics to include:
 - How meeting planners and culinary teams better work together
 - Discovering next year’s food and beverage trends
 - Cost-saving ideas in food and beverage
 - Accommodating special dietary needs
 - How to enhance a meeting’s culinary program

Don’t leave your attendees with a bad taste in their mouths.  


Mara Davis is a television and radio personality, emcee, brand ambassador and one of the most well-known media personalities in Atlanta. Davis is currently the co-host of Atlanta Eats, a TV show and radio show about the food scene in Atlanta.  Davis is the music and food contributor for Atlanta’s NPR-WABE-FM. She recently launched the Atlanta build out for Tastemade, a global food community connecting the world through food. She has interviewed prominent chefs such as Alton Brown and Giada De Laurentiis and emceed events for Taste of Atlanta and The Georgia Restaurant Association.


Off-Premise Caterer
Vagn Nielsen, Corporate Executive Chef
Proof of the Pudding

As Corporate Executive Chef for Proof of the Pudding by MGR, Inc. Vagn Nielsen emphasizes creativity and flexibility when preparing cuisine for the thousands of clients they serve. From elegant dinners for former President and Mrs. Carter, to picnic fare for Chastain Park concert-goers, or a seated dinner for thousands, Chef Vagn creates all of the menu items for any event catered by Proof. Chef Vagn has over twenty years of international gourmet cooking experience. He began his career in Copenhagen, Denmark. While working in hotels there, he embarked in a six-year training program at a local culinary school. He then came to the US and worked at The Anchorage House in Beaufort, SC and Midnight Sun and Eats restaurants in Atlanta. He was soon sought by Proof of the Pudding and served as Proof's Corporate Executive Chef for nine years. In January 1990, Chef Vagn became one of the owners/partners of Proof of the Pudding by MGR.

Damiano de Nicolo, Executive Chef
Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center

A creative and innovative award winning Executive Chef with over twenty years of experience, Damiano de Nicolo began his culinary work in Italy for his family’s pizzeria. He moved onto a number of positions with Club Mediterranean, traveling to many of their world-wide resorts as an Assistant Sous Chef. He then became Sous Chef for their specialty restaurants managing operations and developing menus with local items. After leaving Club Mediterranean, he relocated to Huntington Beach, CA to become Sous Chef for Franco’s Italian Restaurant. In that role, he learned American business methods, the English language, and developed cultural skills beginning his exemplary role in our hospitality industry. He has worked at such places as: Hyatt Regency in CA and VA; Wyndham in Washington, DC, Boston, and Peachtree City; Legacy Lodge and Conference Center in Buford, GA; Marriott Buckhead and currently at Georgia Tech Hotel Conference Center, Atlanta, Georgia.

Food Stylist
Steve Bales, Creative Director
Bold Catering & Design

Steve Bales founded the design and production division of Atlanta event company Bold American in 2003, where he specializes in creating layered atmospheres that highlight color and texture. As the Creative Director he has generated events across Georgia and the southeast. Steve has won over twenty Allie Awards, including best floral; best table top; best new innovation; best invitation; best team effort; and best themed event décor.  In 2018, the Allie Awards presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2012, Flower Magazine recognized Bales as one of the top event floral designers in America. In 2013 and 2017, BIZ BASH Magazine named him as one of the top 35 designers in America and in 2018 they recognized him in their list of the 500 most influential event professionals in America.

Special Event Facility
Nancy Lutz, Special Events Director
Affairs at The Fox

Nancy Lutz joined Affairs at The Fox in 2016, bringing with her more than 25 years of dedication to creating flawless events. She was part of the opening team with the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, joined other esteemed off-premise caterers, successfully started and sold her own catering company, became a full time industry consultant and worked as a senior catering consultant for Affairs to Remember. Nancy approaches her work as a conductor would a symphony, blending various elements, tastes and visual effects into one harmonious celebration.

Convention Center
Nick Klug, Executive Chef
Georgia International Convention Center

Chef Nick started working in kitchens at the age of 15 and has been there ever since. He trained in contemporary American cuisine through an apprenticeship program. He grew as a chef working in a boutique resort hotel and conference center in Green Lake, Wisconsin, first as Sous Chef and then as the Executive Chef. He most enjoys cooking Mexican, Korean and southern foods.

Deborah Daoudi, Group Dining Sales Manager
Fifth Group Restaurants

Guiding the sales team for all Fifth Group restaurants, Daoudi makes sure that guests experience the perfect private dining experience whenever they dine with us. She earned a hospitality degree from Georgia State University and served as the Director of Sales and Events at Del Frisco’s before taking the lead with group dining at FGR. She loves trying new restaurants and learning about wine - she's even received her certification for Level 1 Court of Masters Sommelier.

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM: New Member Orientation
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM: Registration and Networking
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM: Lunch
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM: Program

Registration Fees:

Early Registration Fees (Before 5:00 PM on Friday, May 3, 2019):
Early Bird MPI Georgia Member - $45
Early Bird MPI Georgia Non Member - $70

Registration Fees (After 5:00 PM on Friday, May 3 thru 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 16):
MPI Georgia Member - $55
MPI Georgia Non Member - $80

Student Rates:

MPI Georgia Student Member - $20
MPI Georgia Student Non Member - $30

Online registration will close at 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Please register before this time to ensure that we have space for you!

Onsite Fees:
Please note that MPI Georgia charges an additional $5 onsite fee for any registrations completed after the close of online pre-registration for the event.


If you need to cancel your registration a full refund will be granted if cancellation is received in writing before 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 16. After that time there will be no refunds. Please send cancellation notice to Additionally, registration fees may not be applied or transferred to future events.


If you have registered but are unable to attend the meeting, you may substitute another employee from your company at no additional charge. Please send written notification of this change before 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 16 to After that time, substitutions will need to be made onsite.

Thank You to Our Event Sponsors:

 Venue  Program
 Shining Star
 City-Springs-Logo_sm (002)
Fairmont Southampton Bermuda

Casey Corp Trans Official Logo

 Exhibitor  Exhibitor
 LouisvilleLogo NEW  Hilton Greenville - Dark Blue, No Back

Visit Greenville SC
 Active Logo 2018  

Thank You to Our Annual Sponsors:

Reno Tahoe LogoStackedURL_TruckeeBlue ACVB Logo
Photo Synthesis Studio
    Media Sponsor

 Modern Luxury Logo


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