Feed Me Friday: More Cookies (For A Cause)

CookieCan one write too much about cookies? Naaah. I hadn’t forgotten the cookies-and-milk break at Convening Leaders 2015 when, as serendipity would have it, a cookie recipe landed in my email box. Since it came from King Arthur Flour, I opened it immediately.

I used to work near the company’s sprawling headquarters in rural Vermont, where at lunchtime I’d sometimes join other amateur bakers who fill their baskets with flour and extracts before settling into café chairs with eclairs, muffins, cookies, croissants, scones, whatever was in the case that day. It was a hard life.

Turns out, King Arthur’s chewy, scrumptious cookies had a larger purpose beyond simply sating us: They’re available far and wide via the company’s Bake Truck, which travels the U.S. handing out cookies as part of a fundraising initiative called Bake For Good. Bake For Good is a 20-year-old program that teaches children all over the country how to bake, and also encourages people to bake treats to raise money for causes they care about — or even just their children’s teacher, their neighbors, or seniors and homeless people in their communities. (Check out #bakeforgood on Twitter to see how it plays out).

Community service is integral to this employee-owned company — so KAF consistently looks for ways to keep Bake For Good innovative. In 2014, the Bake Truck (and its cookies) raised more than $8,000 for hunger-relief organizations and, the company claims, the chocolate-chip-oatmeal versions “were consistently praised by thousands of taste testers nationwide as their favorite chocolate chip cookies — ever.”

It’s a recipe that has ‘good’ written all over it. Who will you bake for?

King Arthur Flour Chocolate-Chip-Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon regular table salt
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

2. Beat together the butter and sugars until smooth.

3. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla one at a time, beating well after each.

4. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and add to the butter mixture in the bowl.

5. Mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix briefly.

6. Stir in the chocolate chips.

7. Decide what size cookies you want to make. A muffin scoop (1/4 cup) will make 20 large, palm-sized cookies. A tablespoon cookie scoop (4 teaspoons) will make 50 medium (2 3/4″ to 3″) cookies; and a teaspoon cookie scoop (2 teaspoons) will make 100 small (2 1/2″) cookies.

8. Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2″ to 2″ between cookies.

9. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown, with slightly darker edges. Their middles may still look a tiny bit shiny; that’s OK, they’ll continue to bake as they cool on the pan.

10. Remove the cookies from the oven, and as soon as they’re set enough to handle, transfer them to racks to cool.


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Feed Me Friday: The Cookies, Cocktails, And Killer Breakfasts of Convening Leaders

cookiesYesterday I half-floated, half-limped home from my first Convening Leaders. The week flew by in a blur, and I returned to my desk with a pile of business cards, a notebook full of story ideas, and a deep respect for the work that PCMA staff puts in all year to bring this event to life. I’m still digesting it all in my head, definitely, but also my stomach:gin_punch The lobster tamales at the opening night reception at the Museum of Science and Industry. The bacon-dotted guacamole at the Mexico lunch, and the smorgasbord at the “Food For Thought” luncheon. The cookies-and-milk afternoon snack. The dizzying spread of small plates at Navy Pier during the closing party (Faves: Citrus-cured mackerel from The Gage, and Gold Digger Punch from Heaven Hill Distilllery). The artfully composed Vancouver brunch, complete with Bloody Caesars.

smorgasbordBut the dish most likely to make it into my home repertoire came off-site — specifically, at the Hilton Chicago. On Monday morning, the Hilton staff held a combo breakfast/press conference to publicize the company’s ever-growing sustainability initiatives, including Meet With Purpose (more about that in a future story). Journalists famously flock like sparrows to free food, and the Hilton offered it up in abundance: Muffins, frittata, croissants, yogurt-compote parfait, all arranged in a farm-like tableaux of fresh herb pots and wooden crates.

The star of the spread was a dish so simple and delicious that it’s going to be my new breakfast staple, if I can wangle it: Baked grapefruit. Chef Mario Garcia (who’s incredibly proactive about local sourcing, though not as much in the dead of winter) and his team marinate wedges of grapefruit in brown sugar and slivered mint, then toss them with streusel topping and bake the entire thing until crunchy. The acids of the grapefruit soften via heat and are lifted and accented by the springlike mint and crunchy topping. It’s TO DIE FOR.

baked_grapefruit2Chef will pass on his recipe soon, but outlined enough of the broad strokes so that I can give it a whirl this weekend. It’s the perfect bridge food between the rich treats of Convening Leaders and the healthy food we vow to eat in January: Light, fresh, and nourishing, but just sweet enough.

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#PCMACL: The Return of ‘Live With Kelly & Durso’!

Our long national nightmare is over. Kelly Peacy and I are podcasting again. We debuted Live With Kelly & Durso at PCMA’s 2014 Education Conference last June, recorded more episodes during ASAE’s 2014 Annual Meeting in August, and now we’ve made it to the big show: PCMA Convening Leaders 2015. Our first podcast went up yesterday:

If you’re interested in behind-the-scenes insights into the production and staging of Convening Leaders as it’s happening, background on the meeting’s overarching theme (“Make No Little Plans”), and recommendations for Chicago deep-dish pizza — plus the scoop on why Kelly refuses to give serial killer H.H. Homes his due — you’ll want to give it a listen. And check back every day for a new episode during Convening Leaders.

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Join Convene Editors at Convening Leaders

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 12.26.25 PMAs we gear up for Convening Leaders 2015 at McCormick Place West in Chicago, Convene’s editors are busy packing their notebooks and mittens — and also preparing for lively, post-session interviews with some of the thought leaders during a quintet of Convene Q&A sessions. Each discussion takes place in the Learning Lounge, and offers attendees a more intimate venue to connect with visionaries on subjects such as event design, the future of travel technology, and “un-marketing.” Here’s the rundown:

Resilience and Transformation: Thriving in An Age of Volatility with Andrew Zolli
Monday, January 12, 10:30 a.m. — 11:30 a.m.
Learning Lounge, Main Stage

After what promises to be a powerful Convening Leaders opening general session, executive editor Chris Durso will talk with Andrew Zolli, an expert in global foresight and innovation, about critical trends at the intersection of culture, technology, sustainability and global society that are shaping our future.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 12.25.23 PMEverything Speaks: Bringing Events to Life with Helen Marriage
Monday, January 12, 1:15 p.m.–1:45 p.m.
Learning Lounge, Meeting and Experience Design Theater B

For over 20 years, Helen Marriage has worked to transform our public domain working with the ideas and imaginations of her fellow artists. A sense of place is critical to her work, with each event designed to respond to a particular location and the history and ideas that it contains. After Marriage’s lecture, senior online editor Barbara Palmer will continue the conversation about creative design within the event space.

Un-Marketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging with Scott Stratten
Monday, January 12, 1:15 p.m.–2:15 p.m.
Learning Lounge, Operational Strategy Theater

What exactly is “un-marketing”? Attendees piqued by the lecture by Scott Stratten — author on and expert in viral, social, and authentic marketing — can join web editor Kate Mulcrone as she asks Stratten about the finer points of why traditional marketing methods are languishing and how to position yourself as a trusted expert in your target market.

The Future of Travel and Technology with Terry Jones
Tuesday, January 13, 1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
Learning Lounge, Operational Strategy Theater

Convene’s editor-in-chief Michelle Russell will talk with Jones, the founder of both Travelocity.com and Kayak.com, on seismic innovations in mobile, social, big data, analytics, and cognitive computing — and what lies ahead at the convergence of travel and technology.

Using Design to Create Engagement, Connection, and Experience with Emily Oberman
Tuesday, January 13, 1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
Learning Lounge, Meeting and Experience Design Theater B

Pentagram Design’s Emily Oberman is a multi-disciplinary designer whose work in the entertainment, hospitality and events industry is known for its intelligence and sense of humor. After Emily’s session, I’ll talk with Emily about her design work for 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and how that has shaped her insights into building brand identity and engagement.

Attendees still hungry for even more Convene content can check out the deep-dive Convene Live sessions on subjects as diverse as leveraging data, meeting menaces, and transformative meeting technology — topics we’ve covered in the magazine over the last year and deserve further exploration. Check out the schedule on the Convening Leaders website — and see you in a few days in Chicago!

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Feed Me Friday: Our Most Memorable Dishes of 2014

bacon_skewersAs we ease into a new year, Convene editors agree that 2014 was pretty good to our gullets. From Denmark to Ireland, hanging bacon skewers (pictured) to grilled octopus, here’s a rundown of some of the most memorable dishes that we ate in 2014 — plus a hearty thanks to all of the chefs who fed us during the year.

Seafood in Ireland (Michelle Russell, Editor in Chief)

hakeConvene Editor in Chief Michelle Russell spent a week last September touring sites throughout Ireland, where she discovered that the “meat and potatoes” cliché about Irish food was outdated. “I’m not a big fish eater, but I ordered fish at almost every dinner in Ireland. It was simply prepared and extremely fresh,” said Michelle. Those dishes included the “fresh and flaky hake” at Fishy Fish in Kinsale, pictured at right. “Ireland has really upped its culinary game in a way that is unpretentiously true to its roots, with fresh dairy items, meats, poultry, seafood, and organic produce — all locally sourced — on nearly every menu,” she wrote in a blog post about her trip. Michelle also detailed Ireland’s farm-to-table (sea-to-table?) food revolution in our December issue.

Grilled Octopus in Panama City (Chris Durso, Executive Editor)

The chic, modern Tántalo Kitchen in Panama City, Panama.

The chic, modern Tántalo Kitchen in Panama City, Panama.

When Chris followed a friend’s tip and found his way to the Kitchen at Panama City’s Tántalo Hotel, he was in for a treat — chef Pierre DeJanon’s Tántalo pulpo, “probably the best grilled octopus I’ve ever had, expertly charred, sautéed with coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and yellow Peruvian chili.” Chris washed it down with a “tart and cold” Lulo Margarita made with fresh lulo and passionfruit pulp. His verdict: Muy, muy bueno.

Candlelit Danish breakfast (Barbara Palmer, Senior Editor)



Senior editor Barbara Palmer visited Copenhagen this December. “Of the many wonderful meals shared in great company in 2014, the one that I would most like to repeat was breakfast by candlelight at the Scandic Copenhagen hotel.  The hotel served whole-grain gluten-free toast, which I ate slathered with Danish butter and cherry preserves. I also had eggs, fruit, and — knowing me — probably extra bacon, but it is that glorious toast that stands out. As one navigating the world of dietary restrictions, it is very rare to find gluten-free bread that delicious anywhere. And the candles on table were the beginning of my introduction to my new favorite word: hygge, which translates, roughly, to ‘coziness plus camaraderie.’’

Saltwater-poached Quail at Quay in Sydney (Corin Hirsch, Associate Editor)

quay_tableI partially live for the thrill of having my mind blown by new dishes and drinks, which happened more than a few times in 2014. When it comes to picking favorites, though, I’m often torn between originality and flavor. At the World Education Congress opening party in Minneapolis last July, I was struck by the skewered hor d’oeuvres hanging in gilded photo frames (the chocolate-dipped bacon is pictured at the start of the post). Like a few others at the party, I stared for awhile before realizing I could actually eat one! But the late lunch I had at Quay in Sydney — hosted by Business Events Sydney, and overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge that I had climbed that morning — was tops in terms of both daring and deliciousness. Each course was stunningly presented, but none more so than chef Peter Gilmore’s briny saltwater-poached quail with takuan pickles, egg yolk, fermented shitaake mushrooms, smoked parsnip, and kailan blossoms. The layers of flavor lingered for a long time afterward — just like my memories of that incredible meal.



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Frequent-Flyer Miles In 2015: Harder To Earn, Easier To Spend

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-delta-airlines-self-service-kiosk-terminal-4-john-f-kennedy-international-airport-image37516205For what seems like forever (well, the last 30 years), earning frequent-flyer miles for free flights was the concession prize for road warriors. Until now. As of this Thursday — the first day of the 2015 — some airlines will make it harder to rack up miles via the one-mile-earned-for-one-mile-flown formula. For instance, Delta SkyMiles will be now be awarded based on dollars spent rather than the distance flown — so that booking more expensive business- or first-class flights will earn more miles than flying the same route in economy, and travelers at higher status levels (such as Diamond Plus) will earn miles faster.

When Delta’s changes came to light last spring, they kicked up a fuss among Delta frequent flyers — as well as generated some humorous asides. Then United Airlines announced that they, too, would follow a revenue-based model beginning in March 2015. With miles harder to earn — short of shopping with co-branded airline credit cards — it behooves travelers to be wise when spending them. According to Consumer Reports, flyers hoping to redeem miles for airline tickets should shop for flights as early as possible (as miles needed can surge closer to takeoff time) and shouldn’t hoard miles, as the rules for earning and spending those miles are constantly shifting.

Case in point: In November, United Airlines launched MileagePlus X, a shopping app that lets users earn up to 24 frequent-flyer miles for each dollar spent. Though the app is still being tested among a small group of elite MileagePlus members — and so far only connects to 50 or so major retailers, as well as a host of small businesses — the airline plans to expand its reach in 2015. The airline is also encouraging travelers to use their miles to pay for food and drink, a program which is being tested out at New Jersey’s Newark Airport.

There are still a few bright spots on the frequent-flyer miles horizon, though. When American Airlines and US Airways merge their frequent flyer programs in 2015, they’ll keep the current distance-based structure (even if they do make some of the perks, such as upgrades, harder to come by).

On the eve of the program changes, frequent flyers concerned about earning miles, especially on Delta, can make a radical move during these last two days of 2014: Pony up for MQMs (Medallion Qualification Miles) to up their status level at Delta, ensuring that they’ll earn miles faster in 2015. Beyond 2015? It’s anybody’s guess.


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Do You Need More JOMO in Your Life?

JOMO-the-joy-of-missing-out-smallOne of five new books we featured in our December issue is Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. In it, McKeown asks this question: What if always striving to do more with less, we tried to do less, but did it better?

Like a lot of radical ideas, it’s a simple concept on the surface but has the potential to change almost every aspect of how we do things — including how we plan and participate in meetings. You can read our interview with McKeown about how meeting planners can practice essentialism here (it starts in the middle of the page).

McKeown also told the following story what happened when he put the idea of focusing on what is essential into practice at a big meeting, jam-packed with opportunities.

“I was at a ‘King Kong’ event — the Latin America World Economic Forum. It was full of amazing speakers, back to back. After two days, I was experiencing meeting fatigue. There was not enough space to reflect and not enough space to connect with other people.

So, instead of being consumed with FOMO, or the fear of missing out, I let myself be consumed with JOMO, the joy of missing out. The idea was that if I can just create some space, I might actually get more from my experience than if I just signed up for another five sessions.

So, a little abashedly, I went to the pool. This was an amazing three-tiered pool overlooking the ocean, and as I am walking through, I thought, ‘How is it I have not even thought to come here yet? Because I am so busy at the back-to-back events.’

What I thought was fabulous was that about 15 other people from the event had the same idea, and they were all down at the pool. We sort of laughed as we saw each other. We were liking that we all had the same idea.

Then there, safe from another speaker, or another conference event, we had space in a great environment to just connect and talk and explore what ideas were interesting to us and what each other had done.

That was an awesome few hours. I think that was as valuable as anything in the whole conference, and all it was, was space.”

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Deck the Hotel With Boughs of Holly (Or Cypress, Balsam, and Pine)

IMG_0440Earlier this month I attended a special wreath-making class at the Hyatt Union Square in New York City. The hotel has offered  the classes throughout the holiday season — fitting, since it’s just blocks away from the fabled Union Square Holiday Market. Michael Gaffney, a floral designer and author of Design Star: Lessons from the New York School of Flower Design, instructed us on how to make simple, beautiful floral designs while he shared an anecdote from his appearance on “The Today Show.”

We sat around a table heaped with seasonal cuttings and were outfitted with floral-foam wreath forms and clippers.

Continue reading

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Feed Me Friday: Summer in a Martini Glass

photoFort Lauderdale’s Riverside Hotel has a gorgeously trimmed tree in its lobby, but it is eternally summer at Wild Sea, one of its three restaurants.

I was in Fort Lauderdale last week for Florida Encounter, one of a group of journalists sponsored by Visit Florida. At the end of the second day of a two-day fam, we stopped at the hotel for cocktails and small bites at Wild Sea, as part of a progressive dinner along Fort Lauderdale’s storied Las Olas Boulevard.

In the restaurant’s private wine room — which can host parties of up to 30 — we snacked on bruschetta, rock shrimp beignets, Blue Point oysters, and cornmeal-fried oysters with chives, pickled sweet peppers, and a beer-mustard cream sauce. Executive Chef Toby Joseph has created four unique menus for groups at various price points and the staff is happy to work with planners on custom menus.

Although the restaurant is known for its extensive wine collection and exhaustive Scotch and Cognac menu, I particularly enjoyed the Vodka #1, Wild Sea’s signature cocktail. It’s a one-of-a-kind elderberry, lime, basil, and vodka martini. The drink was introduced last year after the restaurant’s staff worked together to capture the spirit of Wild Sea — in a glass rather than on a plate.

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5 Ways Wearables Are Impacting Events

intersectionIn our December issue we explored the latest advances in wearable technology. Dahlia El Gazzar, CEO and founder of The Meeting Pool, shares how she’s seen wearables in action at events and predicts what come into play in the near future.

1. What’s the coolest implementation of wearable tech that you’ve seen done at a meeting or event?
Here are two implementations that I think are telling and very cool!

One example: There are a couple of very innovative attendee engagement solutions out there such as www.sli.do.com, www.evenium.com, www.lintelus.com, to name a few, have successfully created apps for speakers to use Google Glass to monitor audience questions and polling results, definitely bringing another angle to second-screen sharing. So speakers can now utlize Google Glass as a teleprompter  to help them with notes on their presentations through the glass lens. For example, a speaker will now be able to see through Google Glass how many people are engaged at the specific slide they are speaking on as questions will pop up, prioritizing the ones that have been voted up. Continue reading

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