Barry Bennett, executive chef at the Ocean Center, is going from feeding 5,000 people at a sitting in New Orleans to feeding New Orleans to about 500 guests in Daytona Beach.
For Saturday's Florida International Festival "Good Time Gala," sausage and chicken jambalaya will represent Creole cuisine, and shrimp etouffee will give the taste of Cajun cooking.Both will be served with rice.Also on the menu are spinach-Parmesan stuffed chicken roulade with white wine cream sauce, mixed field greens with assorted dressings, oven roasted red bliss potatoes, sauted vegetables, corn on the cob and cornbread.
The menu was shaped to some degree by Bennett's hands-on experience in the Big Easy earlier this year.His
company, Volume Services America, sent him and three other Florida executive chefs -- the Ocean Center's
banquet manager also went along -- to work as part of a team at the Super Bowl
for eight days.
At another New Orleans event, Bennett
and co-workers served dinner to 5,000 guests. His
most recent experience in feeding the masses was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he
assisted in feeding 5,000 people on two consecutive days for the World Amateur Golf Tournament. He
and fellow executive chefs joke that it seems they work twice as hard when they leave their home venues, but marathon cooking adventures are not unusual for Daytona Beach
either.Ocean Center food and beverage staff ranges from 10 people for smaller events to 60 workers for larger happenings, such as the Volusia County Teacher of the Year Banquet with 1,350 guests.In June, for a teachers' conference, Bennett
and the Ocean Center staff fed breakfast, lunch and dinner to 850 people for 16 days straight.
The Saturday gala, which benefits the semi-annual Daytona Beach festival that features the London Symphony Orchestra, will have a totally different flavor.Bennett
says guests for Saturday's event will number about 500.
"In this area, we don't really do a lot of Cajun food," he
adds."We're giving them kind of a hint of New Orleans."The planned desserts, bananas Foster, pecan pie and bread pudding, are favorite at-home and restaurant specialties there. Bennett
, fellow chefs and other workers had a free day in New Orleans at the end of the Super Bowl festivities."The company threw us a party," he
says, and he
got the chance to eat at Nola, an Emeril Lagasse restaurant. He
doesn't expect to be sent to San Diego for the next Super Bowl because Volume Services generally keeps chefs within their own regions, but he
will have plenty to keep him busy in Daytona Beach
.The Ocean Center crew has been working concessions for a boat show for a week.Among other plans, the workers will go mobile in October to prepare an annual banquet for 500 at Daytona Beach Community College
"We'll go anywhere," he
Doors at the east entrance of the Ocean Center
, 101 N. Atlantic Center, Daytona Beach
, open at 7 p.m. Saturday for the "Good Time Gala" and silent auction.The buffet stations in the Atlantic Rooms begin serving at 7:30.Tickets are $85 each; phone (386) 257-7790 for details.
Search our archives for related stories