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Eating at a Meeting

Food & Cooking Podcasts

Eating at a Meeting explores a variety of topics on food and beverage (F&B) and how they impact individual experience and inclusion, sustainability, culture, community, health and wellness, laws and more. The mission of Eating at a Meeting is to share authentic stories that illustrate the financial, social, emotional, and mental impact food and beverage have on individuals, organizations, and the earth. I see it being threefold: ● Help individuals and organizations understand how F&B impacts employee, customer and guest experience, the planet and the bottom line. ● Help those growing, producing, preparing, and serving F&B understand the duty of care they hold in food safety and inclusion as well as the opportunity they have to create experiences that are safe and inclusive. ● Support those with dietary needs by gathering their insight on eating at a meeting with dietary needs, helping them better advocate for themselves and educating them on the processes found on the other side of the kitchen door.


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Eating at a Meeting explores a variety of topics on food and beverage (F&B) and how they impact individual experience and inclusion, sustainability, culture, community, health and wellness, laws and more. The mission of Eating at a Meeting is to share authentic stories that illustrate the financial, social, emotional, and mental impact food and beverage have on individuals, organizations, and the earth. I see it being threefold: ● Help individuals and organizations understand how F&B impacts employee, customer and guest experience, the planet and the bottom line. ● Help those growing, producing, preparing, and serving F&B understand the duty of care they hold in food safety and inclusion as well as the opportunity they have to create experiences that are safe and inclusive. ● Support those with dietary needs by gathering their insight on eating at a meeting with dietary needs, helping them better advocate for themselves and educating them on the processes found on the other side of the kitchen door.






192: Using Her Vegan Restaurant to Educate and Empower Others

When I posted on my Instagram account that I was searching for women to highlight for Women's HERstory month, Chef Nina Curtis was the first to reply with the name Chef Karla Ortiz. Then, OMG! The additional "votes" for Karla kept rolling in, and then someone submitted a nomination form for her. After reading that, the piece about her in Forbes and on PBS's My American story, I was convinced. Karla Ortiz is the Chef/Owner of, a vegan restaurant in Puerto Rico, located inside La Plaza del Mercado (a farmer's market). Twenty-five years after leaving Puerto Rico, where she was born, she returned with $500 in her pocket, the need to feed her kids, a culinary degree, and a dream. Her scratch kitchen restaurant uses the freshest of ingredients - those downstairs in the market - so that she can be as creative with food as possible, providing good food as well as educating people about mind, body, and soul. Join Tracy and Karla for a special edition of Eating at a Meeting LIVE for Women's HERstory month to talk about Karla's dream, how everyone ❤️s her food, and how she is using plant-based food to educate and empower others. Connect with Tracy:


191: Shattering Stigmas Around Not Drinking

Jen Gilhoi and Cate Faulkner are the Co-Founders of the Zero Proof Collective in Minneapolis, MN. Sharing the lived experience of sobriety, they are purpose-driven and focused on reframing the “mocktail” experience so guests have plenty of elevated non-alcoholic (NA) options to enjoy, and bars, restaurants, hotels, and beverage companies can increase revenue with the new, fast-growing market. Through bi-monthly events, consulting, crafting, and serving elevated zero-proof cocktails, Jen and Cate are gathering business leaders to learn, collaborate and collectively communicate with clarity. Join Tracy, Jen, and Cate as they discuss how they are making #HERstory helping evolve culture so NA options are served everywhere with acceptance and inclusivity to valued customers and guests. Connect with Tracy:


190: Reclaiming Black Food as Medicine to Ensure Health is the New Wealth

Wanting to honor the ancestry within her, Tambra Raye Stevenson, MPH, Founder/CEO of WANDA (Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture), is addressing the challenges of our current food system with Sheros and advocating for a Food Bill of Rights. Tambra lost her grandparents in Oklahoma from diabetes, stroke, and heart disease due to diet and our food culture predicated by the policies set in our cities, states, and country. So she takes the issue of public health and food and nutrition policy personally. As a mom, she began thinking about what are we telling the next generation about food, nutrition, and the culture of food. Through WANDA and Sisterhood Suppers, she is bringing awareness to how food is connected to our health, economy, and environment. Join Tambra and Tracy on Eating at a Meeting LIVE for a Women’s HERstory Month episode to discuss how she is revolutionizing our health and culture of food through the power of women and girls, amplifying the importance of a Food Bill of Rights, and why a Black Food Census is needed now as we prep for the Farm Bill. Connect with Tracy:


189: Females And Business: Giving Women the Tools to Navigate the F&B Industry so They can Succee

Randi Weinstein has been in the hospitality industry all her life, from being a host, bartender, and server to director of events for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. In that last role, she noticed how many fewer female chefs there were than males, locally and nationally. It didn’t make sense to her. Women — grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and others — have always been relied on worldwide to cook and make meals for others. But, they weren’t represented in the hospitality industry. That is where and why Fab — Females and Business — came to be. This two-day workshop designed by women for women allows the attendees to connect, share and learn about the business of food and beverage. It’s also about helping them move forward, stand up for themselves, and be "brave, baller, and badass.” Since Randi is helping other women make HERstory in food and beverage, I wanted to talk to her during Women’s History Month about how she herself is making HERstory and why Fab and being FAB are important. Connect with Tracy:


188: Using her Diagnosis to Help Others Eat Out Safely

To kick off the 4th annual Women's HERstory Month (March) series and for Food Allergy Awareness/Celiac Disease Awareness Month (May), Tracy introduces you to Kayla King, founder and CEO of MyMeal, an app she created to help people with food restrictions find safe restaurant meals. Being diagnosed with celiac disease when she was 8, Kayla has grown up constantly thinking about food, but not in the way you might think. Instead of being able to walk down the street and pick any random restaurant to enjoy a meal, travel places without having a plan (or a safe snack in her pocket), or be in and out of a grocery store in 5 minutes, she has to read every ingredient label, call restaurants in advance, and plan trips around places that she could acquire food. This sparked her passion for building MyMeal, working directly with restaurants to help them become safe & accessible options for this underserved community. Join us at 12 PM Eastern to learn what else sparked her passion, and how she is and intends to Make HERstory helping others eat out safely. Connect with Tracy:


187: Getting to Feed People is a Privilege and Joy

I first met Chef Stephanie Tyson and Vivián Joiner via a Zoom call for Les Dames d’Escoffier North Carolina Chapter during the middle of the pandemic. What I did not know about them, but have come to realize, is they are one of Winston-Salem’s power couples. As the owners of Sweet Potatoes, (Well Shut My Mouth!) restaurant for 20 years, they have been using their 3+ decades of customer relations experience in food and retail, to build bridges in the community one dish at a time. Join our conversation on Tuesday — a special episode of Eating at a Meeting for Women’s History Month — to learn how they have been making HERstory with food and beverage. Connect with Tracy:


186: Ash Wednesday, Lent ++

Recorded on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, Tracy discusses what it and other religious practices mean for serving food and beverage in the office and at events being held over the next six weeks. Lent is a 40-day religious observance (not including Sundays), which ends three days before Easter Sunday on Thursday, April 6, 2023.


185: Heart Health

According to the CDC, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States killing 314,186 women in 2020—or about 1 in every 5 female deaths.” That equates to one woman every 80 seconds. In this episode of Eating At A Meeting I talk with Wendy Freiwald-Kirkland, Global Director of Business Development, ExpoCAD about what it means to be heart healthy because if it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone. Wendy is a two-time survivor of heart attacks. While a #MeetingsProfs who works out and takes good care of herself, she also has a lot of stress in her life (event planners are known to have one of the top 5 most stressful jobs). Listen to how she tries to eat healthy on the road and works hard to do the right things for her health. Connect with Tracy:


184: How to be the Rescue

Food waste is estimated at 30-40 percent of the food supply in the US. In 2010, the USDA estimated that to be approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food. That equates to 218.9 pounds of food waste per person being sent for disposal, according to the EPA. In 2021, more than 42 MILLION AMERICANS — 12.6% — were estimated to be food insecure. That means you lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, which can result in poor productivity in both children and adults, and increase the risk of physical and mental illnesses. Victoria Zapata, National Site Manager for Food Rescue US talks with Tracy about how we — YOU — can be the rescue to fight hunger and help the planet. It is easier than you might think. We will also discuss why there is not more diverse representation in food recovery. Connect with Tracy:


183: The Lag in Hotel Food and Beverage Recovery

When Tracy saw CBRE’s September 2022 Hotel Horizons® forecast in early December stating that food and beverage (F&B) recovery was lagging from pre-COVID levels while rooms revenue per available room (RevPAR) was exceeding 2019 annual levels in 2022, I wanted to find out more. Especially when the cost of food is increasing and meeting planners are spending even more on their already largest expenditure. I'm excited that Andrew Hartley of CBRE Hotels Advisory who studied and analyzed F&B department revenues, expenses, and profits of 1,228 properties for the report will join me on #EatingAtAMeeting LIVE to talk about what he's seeing in the trends for U.S. hotel food and beverage departments. Listen as we discuss these F&B programs — where they were prior to the pandemic and what they look like in the post-pandemic environment, including what is attributing to the lag and industry standards that have been eliminated as a result of the pandemic. Connect with Tracy:


182: Food & Beverage Trends for 2023

Tracy takes a look at various reports that share the food and beverage trends for 2023. From specific food and beverage ingredients and products (CBD, dates, salts) to processes such as upcycling and cultivating meat as well as philosophies to be more intentional and purpose-driven, Tracy shares the leading food and beverage trends for individuals, organizations, and food service providers. Tune in to learn how and why to incorporate these trends into event, home, and space menus. Connect with Tracy:


181: Less Is Yes: Surprising and Delighting Guests with Non-Alcoholic Beverages

We learned earlier this month how the non-alcoholic beverage market is growing rapidly not just for hashtag#DryJanuary but overall and throughout the year. One wine store owner I talked to last month said that 38% of people of drinking age are choosing not to consume alcohol or are consuming LESS of it. That is why Lauren Chitwood and her co-founders created the non-alcoholic brand Spiritless. They were three young mothers with eight kids between them who were/are driven entrepreneurs and passionate social drinkers who enjoyed an evening cocktail to wind down from their day. Like most consumers buying their alcohol-free spirits and ready-to-drink (RTD) non-alcoholic canned cocktails, they were "feeling the strain of weekday drinks at work dinners, added calories, and sluggish mornings after a few glasses." Join Lauren and Tracy for #EatingAtAMeeting as they chat about how they started the business, their experience as female founders in the spirits industry, and how low and non-alcoholic beverages are an incredible tool for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. Connect with Tracy:


180: Contracting F&B in 2023: How EventProfs can be Protected and Prepared

Do you have any 2023 events for which the contract was negotiated before or during the COVID pandemic? When was the last time reviewed the contract terms related to food and beverage service, menu items, staffing, and pricing? A lot has changed with food and beverage service due to the pandemic. On Wednesday's episode of hashtag#EatingAtAMeeting LIVE, Joshua Grimes, Esq. of Grimes Law Offices, LLC is going to join me to talk about how, in this strong seller’s market, hashtag#MeetingProfs can ensure they are protected and prepared for changes. We're going to cover a lot — inflation, food costs, staff shortages in both the kitchen and front-of-house, how high demand for space may impact what was previously thought secure, gratuity and service charges, and F&B performance policy provisions. Connect with Tracy:


179: Food & Beverage Costs

Tracy talks with Food Economist and Associate Professor at Michigan State University David Ortega who studies what people eat, how it got to their plates, and various factors that affect foods' journey from farm to people's plates. His explaination of why and how food prices are rising is important for us to all understand. It's not just one thing that's affecting the increase. It's a variety of factors that are really coming together kind of a perfect storm of various things that are contributing and are sort of compounding each other. David also discusses consumer demand — what we're eating as well as where and how we're spending our money on food. Connect with Tracy:


178: An End of Year Conversation about Food

In this year-end conversation about food, Tracy chats with Dani Nierenberg, an American activist, author, journalist, and Co-Founder and President of Food Tank, a non-profit that offers solutions and environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty around the world. Listen as Tracy and Dani chat about how the state of the US (and global) food system, our most pressing environmental and agricultural, and food issues, the newly approved Food Donation Improvement Act of 2021, and how we can link the cultural, medical, religious, and beliefs around food for a more productive, healthy, and sustainable global food system


177: Mindful Mixology

I stopped drinking alcohol in 2019. It was a CHOICE I made because I no longer wanted to experience the after-effects of drinking too much, spending the money, or consuming the calories associated with it. Since then my drink of choice has been a club soda with lime or water with lemon. I've tried "mocktails" before with hit-or-miss success. And, I have been "mocked" by servers and bartenders asking me, "You know that it has no alcohol in it?" Uh, Yes, that is why I ordered it. From now on though, and because of chatting with and then reading Derek Brown’s book, "Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No- and Low-Alcohol Cocktails", I WANT and really EXPECT to be able to buy a sophisticated adult drink that is non-alcoholic. Tracy is excited to introduce YOU to Derek, founder of Positive Damage, Inc., who wants "to normalize drinking sophisticated adult drinks without alcohol ... to me, they’re cocktails.” Listen as we chat about what a sophisticated adult beverage actually is, how #MeetingAndEvents and #Hospitality venues can make room for guests who are reducing or eliminating drinking alcohol, the current state of the no- and low-alcohol movement, and the ingredients needed to make a cocktail. Connect with Tracy:


176: Living with a Meat Allergy

The number of confirmed cases of meat allergy — Alpha Gal Syndrome — has risen from only 12 in 2009 to 34,000 in 2019. Unlike other food allergies, alpha-gal symptoms can occur HOURS after eating meat, making the diagnosis a very tedious and long process. Candice Matthis and Debbie Nichols know this all too well. It took Candice 15 years, including mutliple trips to the ER and flatlining to be diagnosed. Debbie's symptoms continued for 10 years. While she had made the connection between her GI pain and red meat, she had not heard of Alpha GAl Syndrom until Candice was diagnosed. She had to insist that her immunologist test her for it. Together Candice and Debbie are known as Two Alpha Gals and are on a mission to help others live fully with Alpha Gal Syndrome. Listen as Tracy, Candice, and Debbie cha about what foods and products meat is hidden and how to best feed guests with a meat allergy. Connect with Tracy:


175: Celebrating the Season of Faith, Food & Freedom

’Tis the season to be jolly. It's also the time that many of us celebrate and observe religions and cultures. While there will be many Christmas parties to attend (and Hallmark movies to watch), we must remember that Hanukkah, Yule, and Kwanzaa are also celebrated this month. Celebratory meals for each holiday vary by person, family, region, and country. Hallie Loeb, an event planner who happens to be petite, vegetarian, and Jewish, joined me on December 7 to share her insights on Hanukkah, the eight-day winter festival of lights, observed through nightly menorah candle lighting, blessings, songs, prayer, and food. Be festive and listen as we talk about religious freedom, the best latke toppings, and the tastebuds of our ancestry. Connect with Tracy:


174: How to Expand Your Food Choices When Living With Diabetes

Do you ever feel deprived about food? With a chronic disease such as diabetes, you have to avoid specific foods to avoid reactions. While that may seem simple, there is nothing simple about it. It takes a lot of diligence to watch everything you eat (quality and quantity), constantly read ingredient labels, and ask questions of servers and chefs about what's in the menu item. What about relying on someone else to choose what you'll be eating when attending a meeting or event? Deprivation can be felt not just with the food itself, but also with the loss of control over what to eat. That's where Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Julie Cunningham, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES, IBCLC comes in. She works with her clients to EXPAND their food choices, not contract them. She wants them to enjoy as many different foods as they possibly can, without experiencing complications of diabetes. Listen as Tracy and Julie discuss why she decided to specialize in diabetes, the main message she hopes people understand through her book "30 Days to Tame Type 2 Diabetes," and how to help event attendees with diabetes — how about everyone — enjoy a meal without feeling deprived or worried. Connect with Tracy:


173: Addressing Food Waste in Hospitality and Food Service

As the Senior Program Officer for World Wildlife Fund’s Global Food Waste Team, Samantha Kenny works with hospitality and food service businesses to change the standard ways of doing business when planning events (like forecasting) to right-size food production and better serve guests. Listen as Tracy and Samantha talk about who is responsible for curbing food waste at events and the ways food waste be addressed at meetings and events. Connect with Tracy: