Wilmington, N.C. - December 15, 2016 - The Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau [CVB], along with area travel partners, exhibited at the Association Executives of North Carolina [AENC] 2016 Annual Showcase & Exhibits, held December 8 at the Raleigh Convention Center. The Wilmington and Beaches booth won AENC’s “Best Booth” award in the category of “Best Food.” The 35th AENC Annual Showcase & Exhibits tradeshow was attended by approximately 300 meeting professionals from North Carolina.

The Wilmington and Beaches booth theme for this year was “Famous Foods,” which was chosen to enhance the convention’s overall theme of “Connecting People ~ Growing Business.” As a hallmark of hospitality, food provides a great way to connect with people. It’s also a great way to showcase a destination like Wilmington and its island beaches, which is known for outstanding restaurants that are committed to locally sourced food. 

Celebrity chefs Jessica Cabo, executive chef of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort’s EAST Restaurant, and Keith Rhodes, chef/owner of Catch Restaurant/Catch the Food Truck, were on hand to serve some of their special dishes. Cabo, who has appeared on FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” prepared a delectable New England-style Clam Chowder. Rhodes, a contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef” (season 9),  prepared a variety of tacos with BBQ chicken, shrimp and tuna, served with his signature cilantro slaw, queso fresco and lime cream sauce. Other award-winning foods at the booth included Wake-N-Bake Donuts—which was selected by BuzzFeed.com as the state’s best doughnut shop—and Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, which was recently chosen as the official coffee of the Rachael Ray Show.

Exhibits in the Wilmington and Beaches’ food-theme display were manned by sales representatives from the following travel partners: Blockade Runner Beach Resort Wrightsville Beach; Courtyard by Marriott Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach; Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront; Hampton Inn Wilmington Downtown; Hilton Garden Inn Mayfaire Town Center-Wrightsville Beach, SpringHill Suites Wilmington-Mayfaire and the Wilmington Convention Center. Booth participants sported chef uniforms bearing the destination name.
The Wilmington and Beaches CVB’s President/CEO Kim Hufham, Vice-President of Sales & Services John Sneed, Director of Convention Sales Molly Johnson and Sales Manager Jenna Davis attended the event. According to Sneed, the Wilmington and Beaches booth received a lot of positive attention and feedback from meeting planners attending the show, several whom expressed a desire to visit to enjoy more of the chefs’ culinary creations. 

“This is the first year that the Wilmington and Beaches booth has taken the Best Booth-Best Food honors,” states Sneed. “In years past we have won in other categories, so it was especially exciting to be recognized by attendees for our award-winning coastal cuisine. Our goal at tradeshows is to let planners know that we have a great meeting destination with a coastal setting and lots of amenities, including great restaurants and caterers.” 

Established in 1955, Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC) is committed to providing high quality professional development and networking opportunities to help members develop their fullest potential and foster the recognition and respect of the association management profession. Members include CEOs and staff of associations across North Carolina, as well as representatives from the association service and hospitality industries. For more information about AENC, please visit www.aencnet.org.

The New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority d/b/a Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization that stimulates economic development through the promotion of travel and tourism. The Wilmington and Beaches CVB is a longstanding member of AENC.


NOTE TO MEDIA: Electronic image available. Please email your photo request to cvbpr@wilmingtonandbeaches.com.