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Delaware North brings star-studded lineup of keynote speakers to Buffalo events

Celebrity chefs and an Emmy winner were among those speaking to attendees of two major Delaware North events last week: the 2015 GuestPath® Conference and the 2015 Food & Beverage Summit.
Attendees at both conferences heard from Ross Shafer – a six-time Emmy Award-winning television producer/personality, who, in 1994, shifted his focus to create a series of human resource training films on customer service, leadership and motivation.
“You are in a relentless business that never lets up. What you guys would consider slow, everyone else would consider slammed,” Shafer said at the GuestPath Conference. “People are always eating; there are always events; and when the sports stadiums aren’t being used for sports, there are events being held. When you are in this relentless business, how do you stay motivated? I love this quote by Albert Einstein: ‘The world’s greatest achievements were accomplished by tired, discouraged people who just kept working.’ That’s us.”
Delaware North chefs had an opportunity to interact with three highly-acclaimed culinarians during four hourlong sessions at the Food & Beverage Summit. Attendees soaked in live cooking dembryanvolt360-3693389onstrations from Bryan Voltaggio, Rick Moonen and Mike Isabella – all of whom have made their mark in the kitchen.

Voltaggio has been a finalist on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters” – the first contestant to appear on both shows. The James Beard Foundation Award recognized his restaurant, VOLT, in 2009 as a finalist for “Best New Restaurant.” In 2011, Voltaggio and his brother, Michael Voltaggio of L.A.’s INK, co-authored the cookbook, “Volt.INK.” 
For Volataggio, a chance to speak with Delaware North culinarians was mutually beneficial.
“It’s interesting, because we came up with new ideas even as we were on stage today,” Voltaggio said. “And so, it’s just so important to get people out of their environment – out of their own kitchens – to see something new. When we stand still and stagnant, the food remains the same. Obviously it’s a huge effort to put together events like these, but it’s worth it. Hat’s off to you guys for doing this.”
Moonen – the owner/operator of the popular Rick Moonen’s rm seafood at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas – has been featured in Food & Wine, SAVEUR, Bon Appetit, Food Arts, USA Today, Travel + Leisure, and seen on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” “Top Chef,” “Top Chef Masters,” “TODAY,” “Good Morning America,” “CBS This Morning,” “Dan Rather Reports,” and on CNN. Moonen has devoted his career to being the country’s top culinary advocate for sustainable seafood and has won countless awards as a result.
Delaware North chefs tapped Moonen for his knowledge on sustainability.
“We had a chef ask a great question about sustainability. He asked, ‘When you talk to your purveyor, what do you ask for to maintain sustainability?’” Moonen said. “I said, ‘It’s really simple: What, where and how?’ If you ask those three questions, you’ve got it all covered. What’s the fish? Where’s it from? How is it fished or how is it farmed? That’s all the information you need to move sustainability in the right direction.” 
Isabella, meanwhile, is a Washington, D.C.-based chef and restaurateur. In 2012, he was named FOOD & WINE magazine’s The People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic, and he published his first cookbook, “Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian.” Outside the kitchen, Isabella appeared on Season Six of “Top Chef,” and “Top Chef Duels,” and he was the runner-up on “Top Chef All-Stars.” He is also a member of the American Chef Corps, a network of chefs from across the United States who serve as resources to the Department of State.

PHOTO CAPTION: Several Delaware North chefs strike a pose with celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio (wearing a black chef’s apron).