The Art of Food in Our Community

by Jake Juliano, Sous Chef at the Bayfront Convention Center

Sometimes, we have to take a moment to smell the (cantaloupe) roses.

For us here on the culinary side at the Bayfront Convention Center, we do something, we do it again, and then we do it again. And in the back of house, it’s easy to get lost in the fact that, for example, we’re doing a fruit platter every day. And yes, we might be cutting cantaloupe or pineapple in a different way on different days, but for us, it’s still cantaloupe and pineapple. For people here only once in a while, that palm tree made of pineapple and that flower made of cantaloupe made them go “oh, wow,” and it could be a reason they come back or bring someone else in.

Watermelon fruit display

An example of just some of the cool things we do here at the BCC. 

There’s a couple who called Lisa DiLuzio, our director of marketing and sales, who had their wedding here five years ago. Their family is in the area, but they are not. At the wedding, they had the candied bacon we do in house, and they loved it at the tasting. However, they weren’t able to have any the day of the wedding due to their responsibilities, but all their guests still rave about it. They’re going to be in the area for their five-year anniversary and requested a bouquet of the candied bacon skewers to celebrate.

How cool is that? For five years, something we did made such a lasting impression on them that they came back to us. What we put out into the community may be just another event to us sometimes, but the littlest parts and things we do live on in hearts, minds, and future celebrations.

This is a lesson I learned from Chef David Robbinson here at the Bayfront Convention Center. One of the first things I learned was professionalism, but then I also learned the community aspect. I don’t think I truly realized the finesse of things until I got here. And to be in this industry, as much as I love food, you have to enjoy the artistry and the aesthetic.

Cooking is one of the few art forms that utilizes all five senses. If I bring out a plate of fajitas, you’re going to see them, hear them, and – hopefully – taste them.

Some people say there’s a box you’re limited to when you work a job. And there is a box here, but that box is so much bigger than anywhere else. If you’re working at Lucky Louie’s, you’re making hot dogs. If you’re at Cloud 9, it’s poutine with some occasions for something fancier. Don’t get me wrong, those are great places. But here, yes, you have your hot dogs and hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, but you also have the opportunity to work with food that no one else in the area gets to work with. And to be able to work with food in that way, whether it’s a cantaloupe rose or a four-pound block of ice, it’s amazing.

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