Food & Beverage

Play With Your Food. No, Really

When PCMA’s Southwest & Pacific and Northern California chapters collaborated on their annual LEAP conference on April 8, they wanted it to be anything but typical.


When setting out to brand their annual LEAP conference, PCMA’s Southwest & Pacific and Northern California chapters, who collaborated on the event, which was held at the San Diego Creative Space on April 8, wanted it to be anything but typical. The theme they chose was UNconventional — and were pretty serious about staying on theme.


“UNconventional was woven throughout the event, from the venue to programming to food, seating, and drinks,” said Dawn Norman, president of Normand Productions and treasurer of the Southwest & Pacific Chapter. Sessions on improvisation, storytelling, and “Sitting Is the New Smoking,” as well as a town meeting on the future of room blocks, were held in areas with names such as the Hipster Lounge and the Big Idea Space.


Yet it was what attendees ate and drank that most colorfully expressed the event’s theme. Instead of a traditional lunch buffet, they helped themselves to a funky display of breads, salads, and cheeses from San Diego–area caterer Culinary Concepts, along with the directive to play with their food — literally. Chalkboard instructions such as “starch ur plate” next to some baguettes and Parmesan-herb lavash, and “dress ur plate,” alongside ramekins of slivered nuts, all urged attendees to “CreATE your plATE.”


“We also had simple things like paint brushes to brush salad dressing on your plate,” Norman said, “and the ability to choose what flavor [oil] to have infused in your ball of burrata cheese.”


Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch is a writer who specializes in food and drink.