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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A New Look on the Bayfront

by Gus Pine, General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center

In the summer of 2016, Erie Events opened up the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, starting a new chapter for us on the Bayfront.

That’s because the addition of the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, along with the existing Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel solidified us as major players in the convention business. With the beautiful Bayfront Convention Center and now over 400 connected hotel rooms, we added some key elements that meeting planners were looking for.

The completion of the Courtyard proved to be the genesis of our next step. As general manager of the Bayfront Convention Center, my job is not just to think about the day-to-day operations, but also to think long-term and how we shape our future growth and direction. A key question quickly emerged. We have the Bayfront Convention Center, the Sheraton and the Courtyard – but how do we pitch them? Do we list them all out, are they separate entities? Essentially, how do we best market our resources to others in a clear, yet concise, package?

The answer was found in the creation of a collective brand. The team at Erie Events has been working with Tungsten Creative Group, a marketing organization based right here in Erie, to take our three facilities and marry them with one collective message. Now, of course, when needed we are our own brand, but when pitched as a unit to potential conventions, we will now be on the same page under one umbrella. Through our overall brand, our potential customers will truly see all that we have to offer.

I’m 100 percent convinced this will help us secure more conventions.

We have a fantastic location. It’s like a convention resort down here at the Bayfront. If you haven’t been down, stop by and see our facilities. Everything overlooks the bay, and that’s a great way to get work done.

We’ve got a great story here – we just need a vehicle to do it. Our new branding efforts, which we’ll begin unveiling in August as part of a major marketing initiative, will do just that.

We’ll also be looking to tie-in our future development in the area, including that at the former GAF site, now known as Bayfront Place. We could see the development of entertainment options, restaurants, or residential housing available at the site. We aspire to be a place where locals and travelers can mingle, and the more we have going on down here, the quicker we will reach that goal.

One of the key elements to a thriving city is the reliance on the dollars of outsiders. We can trade dollars as locals, but when travelers come in and bring in additional demand, it brings the city to another level. That’s what we’re looking to do, and we’re excited to continue the process this summer.

Sculpting The Future An Ice Block At A Time

From Chef David Robbinson, Bayfront Convention Center

When I look up, I see the future.

Except for when the ice fogs up my glasses.

As executive chef, one of my responsibilities at the Bayfront Convention Center is to make the ice sculptures you see at many of our events. Like, for instance, Wine on the Lake, which we had just a few weeks ago.

ice2

Me working on sculpting a car made of ice.

We used 12,000 pounds of ice and 29 blocks of ice. Signs with company logos on them take about four hours. Ice work at the bar takes about eight. The car I made, which you can see in these pictures, took 36 hours.

It’s quite the process. I’ve been carving for many years. I carved competitively, in fact. But when I was asked to write this blog, I didn’t want it to be about me.

I wanted it to be about the future. And the ice, of course, but mostly the future.

When I took this job, my goal was to give back to the community. Working with Jake Juliano, our sous chef, has given me one way to do that.

Jake has been here for about four years. He had never touched a block of ice before this, but Jake came in and said he wanted to learn.

Be careful what you wish for.

It’s a continual training and learning process, and we do everything by hand. The whole point of ice sculptures is to show emotion, and it’s an art form which, like many art forms nowadays, is becoming more technological than hand-crafted. But here, every ice block you see — company logos, figures, cars — is handmade by us.

With all the other responsibilities we have, it’s been off-and-on training for Jake. But when we had the chance, I gave him an ice block, showed him the basic cuts, and we started along in the process.

unnamed

One of the signs that Jake worked on.

We’ve had to look at the big picture — literally. “You gotta leave it big” is one message I’ve passed on to Jake. Knowing your medium is going to melt, you have to keep that in mind. If it’s marble or clay, it’s going to stay. But ice is going to melt. So you have to have a big piece to work with, because naturally it’s going to melt as time goes on.

I’m excited to continue passing my knowledge on. Where Jake is now, he’s proficient at signs, support structures and that sort of thing. The next step is to work on figures and human anatomy.

With our power tools in hand, Jake will continue to grow. And as I’m working on my pieces, I can look up and see all the progress that Jake is making, too.

The future is bright.

And cold. Very, very cold.

Senator Bernie Sanders Campaigns in Erie

In front of his hundreds of supporters, Senator Bernie Sanders took the stage at the Bayfront Convention Center to people chanting his name and loud cheers. The energetic crowd of nearly 2,200 started to gather as early as 7:30am even though Sanders wasn’t set to take the stage until 2pm. The crowd first heard from a local volunteer, then City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and Scott Slawson, the UE Local 506 President. Slawson introduced Sanders, but first addressed the job layoff situation at GE Transportation. While on stage, Sanders rallied the crowd behind his beliefs on job creation, income inequality, comprehensive labor reform, climate change and much more. His speech lasted about 55 minutes with him calling on PA constituents to get out to vote in the primary saying “I think we’re going to win Pennsylvania next week!”

A Day in the Life: Director of Marketing & Sales at the BCC

From the desk of the Bayfront Convention Center’s Director of Marketing and Sales:

Hello!

I am Lisa Di Luzio, the Director of Marketing and Sales at the Bayfront Convention Center.

The BCC has intrigued me since its opening, and for the past two years I have had the opportunity to work with such a diversified and unique building with endless capabilities.

With more than 28 consecutive years in the sales and hospitality industry, I merge classic professionalism with innovative ideas for meeting and convention needs. Daily, I am posed with availability and capacity questions, logistical inquires, and the task of bringing reoccurring and new business to the BCC. With the support of my team, I continue to problem solve to get the most for our building and the Erie community by providing optimal cliental for economic growth and impact. Quite often I am faced with fitting a 1000 person event in a room while executing a 400 person one in another with no interruption in customer service and experience. My insight into maximizing the “lay of the land” (as I like to call it) and the market segments allows for best sales practices, endless growth, and continued opportunity for Erie’s public and prosperity.

Some of the events myself and my team have facilitated include the annual UPMC Hamot Gala, the Barber Ball, the LECOM Student Auction, countless consumer shows and expos, social and daily meetings, and city-wide conferences and conventions. I have also brought the Polish National Catholic Convention, many non-profit organizations, educational sessions, military affiliations, and more to the BCC. Moreover, I look forward to introducing the Courtyard by Marriott Bayfront Hotel for future conventions and city-wides.

I am very appreciative to work for a productive and professional team that collectively holds a common goal. Our goal is to provide top service and quality products not only to host an event but to offer every guest an experience. I have strong passion for the business, the building, and the overall direction of bolstering Erie.

I’m ready to Get Up and Go!

A Day in the Life: BCC Director of Operations

A day in the life of Mike Kelly, the Director of Operations for Erie Events. He describes his role and how he contribute:

I started with the Erie County Convention Center Authority, now commonly known as Erie Events, in 2007 as the Convention Center’s Director of Food & Beverage. In 2008, I moved over as the Director of Operations, while still leading the food & beverage operations.  Recently, I was asked to lead the food and beverage operations for Erie Events.  This morphing of roles has taught me a great deal about the Bayfront Convention Center and Erie Insurance Arena businesses and has led to some very memorable experiences.

WE handle events from 3,000 to 5,000 people at the Convention Center at any given time;  Corporate business meetings, sporting events, consumer shows, weddings and wedding receptions, large banquets and even larger cocktail parties.  Many times events are happening simultaneously!   At Erie Insurance Arena, that number can range anywhere from 500 people for small sporting events to 8,000 for large concerts.

It’s a big job and people ask me how I manage to keep all these events straight on a daily basis. My answer is very simple; I have amazing co-workers!  A constant, concerted effort is made across the Authority by many employees to produce events, keep our establishments clean and safe and provide great hospitality and experiences for our guests.  Some days can be very trying as one could imagine, but the satisfaction of knowing we successfully produced an event that exceeded someone’s expectations is the reward!

A Day in the Life: Bayfront Convention Center General Manager

Jeff Esposito, the Bayfront Convention Center general manager, talks about local champions:

Usually when people learn that I am general manager of the Bayfront Convention Center I get lots of questions. That’s great – I love talking shop. One of the more frequently asked questions is how do you bring conventions to Erie? I usually respond by saying it’s with the help of people like you.

The Bayfront Convention Center has a sales and marketing department whose job it is to generate sales. We also team up with several other groups such as VisitErie, the Sports Commission, our hotel partners, Presque Isle Downs & Casino as well as other local attractions. We all work together to bring out-of-town groups to Erie. Yet, you have an even louder voice.

If you are a member of a group, you can bring the group to Erie. Next time you get an email notifying you of the upcoming year’s convention ask your group why are they not considering Erie as a location for the convention. Introduce us to the group and watch how surprised the event planners are after they have a tour of Erie and see for themselves all that we have to offer. You become a “Local Champion,” a person who brings a group home to Erie – along with its positive economic impact to the region.

Consider that even a small convention can bring more than $300,000 in economic impact to the region. That’s a great return and all it requires is your providing your group a positive recommendation about your hometown. So, the next time you get an email or flyer in the mail give us a call at 814-455-1260.

NYE Boogie on the Bay Celebration

Are you looking for that perfect party to ring in the new year? Look no further because the Bayfront Convention Center is offering a great package for everyone to celebrate 2015!

For $45/ticket, you’ll enjoy live music by “The Chozen Few Band”, hors d’oeuvres, three drink tickets per person and a champagne toast. For just $199, you can spend the night at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, the #1 rated Sheraton in Guest Loyalty in North America for 2012 and 2013, plus two event tickets. This New Year’s Eve celebration benefits the Warner Theatre Restoration.

All seats for the event are reserved, so buy your tickets together to sit together. You don’t want to miss the best party in town! Tickets are available at the Erie Insurance Arena Box Office, http://www.erieevents.com or by calling 814-452-4857. Also enjoy free parking at the Convention Center NYE.

 

 

boogie on the bay

30th Annual St. Vincent “Festival of Trees”

The Bayfront Convention Center is full of holiday cheer for Saint Vincent’s 30th annual “Festival of Trees.” More than 100 trees are professionally decorated by sponsors and designers, each with their own unique theme that guests will be able to pick their favorite and vote.

There will be musical entertainment, Santa’s workshop, nativity sets from around the world exhibit, children’s activities and vendors. There will also be a raffle where guests can purchase tickets for the chance to win decorated gift trees and custom gift baskets.

There is also Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, November 29th at 9:30am in the Bayfront Convention Center’s Great Hall.

Festival of Trees Admission
$9 Adults
$6 Children (12 and under)
All Festival tickets will be available for purchase at the door.

Wed.: 10am-8pm

Thurs.: Closed

Fri./Sat.: 10am-8pm

Sun.: 10am-6pm

For an inside look, watch this story from WICU/WSEE Paul Wagner: http://www.erietvnews.com/story/27480256/preview-of-festival-of-trees

Also, a video from Sarah Stemen at GoErie:http://video.goerie.com/tout.php?tout_uid=eoho53&widget_uid=55e0f9&security%5Bsignature%5D=4a9a2f398c3e4040ec1254172c01a0c0&security%5Btout_uid%5D=eoho53&security%5Bwidget_uid%5D=55e0f9#tout_widget_55e0f9

Ring in the New Year at the Bayfront Convention Center!

If you’re making plans to ring in 2015, why not book the Bayfront Convention Center’s New Year celebration?

Boogie on the Bay tickets will go on sale Monday, December 1st. Single tickets are $45 each, or you can get a Sheraton Hotel package for $199.  Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 814-452-4857.

We are excited to welcome The Chozen Few Band! Visit their web site at http://thechozenfewband.com/

We will have more information on this fun night in the upcoming days and weeks ahead!