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The Elevated CAHR19 Menu

The CAHR19 menu is not something we take lightly. We pride ourselves in offering a different HR conference experience, one that prioritizes our attendees as much as the content and speakers. What you eat while you learn and network can mean the difference between staying tuned in or spacing out. Plus, no one wants to eat boring, same-old-same-old food at an event, right? This year we’re not just giving you a sneak peak at the 2019 California HR Conference menu, we’re diving a little deeper into its planning and inspiration. 

We went to the Long Beach Convention Center and chatted with resident Chef Will Minard about what he and Executive Chef James Miller whipped up for the CAHR19 attendees.

“I’m literally cooking every day,” says Will of his involvement in just about all culinary matters at the Long Beach Convention Center, from smaller menus to the larger events.

He takes a very hands on approach to dish and menu planning and applies personal standards of quality to everything he serves. “I’m one of the chefs that’s in the kitchen with the guys working and grinding with everyone because I want to make sure everything tastes good for the client. If I wouldn’t serve it to my mom, I wouldn’t serve it to everyone else.”

Where his ingredients come from is important, too. “I’m very close with all of our purveyors,” says Will. “If I want a specific type of this or that, I make sure I get it. For the main [CAHR19] lunch entrees, we use Tanaka Farms which is a local farm in Orange County.”

This local source of menu items offers dish inspiration as well. Regarding this year’s caprese chicken lunch, Will said, “We go to them for our tomatoes a lot, squash and other produce, so I got some of their heirloom cherry tomatoes and I marinated them in some mountain oil with garlic and shallot, salt, and pepper. Then we have fresh mozzarella that we make in-house to put on top of the chicken along with our aged balsamic, which we also age and reduce ourselves in the kitchen.”

For the lemon chicken lunch, Will and his team make their own oregano marinade.  “We have our own mini garden in the back [of the convention center] and a lemon tree  which we’ll pull from when we don’t need a high volume of lemons.”

Will’s eyes lit up as he explained a recent kitchen addition.  “I just got this cool new little hydroponic planter that I can grow my own micro greens in so we’ll soon be adding our own micro greens to dishes.”

If you think this sounds like a lot of hard work and attention to detail for a kitchen operation that handles massive orders for huge events, you’re right, and Will agrees with you. He says, “I try to bring a lot of restaurant ideals into the catering world and it’s a struggle but we do it.  It’s wild if you think about it; we’re cooking for thousands of people and we’re doing even the minimalist things like making our own aged balsamic. It’s insane to most people considering the volume we do.”

 On top of all this attention to detail, Will takes great pride in providing food that’s actually good for people and helps them achieve more. “For your afternoon snacks we’re going with grains as they’re a good source of protein and fibers and they’re big right now in the culinary world. We want to get away from the normal coffee and bagel type deal and give people a little of sustainable energy to help them get through the rest of the day until the receptions and shows. You don’t want them all tired and groggy or hopped up on coffee and artificial sugars. Give them some of that natural stuff to help them get on through the day.”

Great, now that we’ve covered the lunches and snacks, let’s get to the sweet stuff… desserts! This is an area close to Will’s heart. 

“Traditionally I’m a pastry chef so I wanted to match the desserts to the style of food. Since we have a Greek style dish with the oregano chicken and an Italian style dish with the caprese, we chose a traditional baklava with the fried phyllo dough and a tiramisu. For the bakeries where we get our [desserts] I have a very strict regimen of what I want them to use and how I want them to do it. I don’t want them to use processed sugar, I want them to use more natural palm sugar or coconut sugar.”

Variety means a lot to him as well and it shows in his menu choices. “We also did the pan dulce, traditional Mexican bread, which is a lot different from most places where they’ll give you these traditional tea cakes and breakfast breads and croissants. Why not do something that’s different? If we’re not doing anything that’s different and we’re just doing the same old same old, then what’s the point?”

We couldn’t agree more, Chef Will! Many thanks to you and the team for taking us through your menu creation process and all the ingredients – *including vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options* – that will keep CAHR19 attendees full, energized, and ready to rock the HR world.

Now that you’ve had the full intro and background, let’s look at the actual dishes. Here’s the daily break down of what we’re serving.

Let’s get into the details of the CAHR19 menu!

Good Eats at CAHR19

Greek Lemon Chicken with Fresh Lemon and Chive

Caprese Chicken with Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil

Quinoa Tabouli Salad with Fresh Herbs

Mediterranean Spinach Salad with Olives, Cucumber, Fried Chick Peas, and Feta Cheese with a Citrus Vinaigrette.

Orzo Salad with Feta Cheese, Arugula, Cucumber, Tomato Pesto and Italian Parsley

Antipasto Salad with Romaine Lettuce, Shredded Salami, Fresh Mozzarella, Olives, Tomatoes, and Cucumber with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette

Assorted Rolls

Assorted Mexican Sweet Bread

Grilled Pita and Hummus

Cous Cous Salad with Grilled Pineapple Skewer

Greek Farro Salad with Grilled Veggie Skewer

Lentil Salad with Charred Brussel Sprout Skewer

Getting hungry? So are we! (via GIPHY)

Tabouli Quinoa Salad with Antipasto Skewer

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Thick Cut Bacon Skewers with Candied Orange Zest

Bacon Corndog Bites with Whiskey Mustard



Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!

A marathon of learning like CAHR19 requires great tasting nutrition to feed your soul and fuel your brain.

And coffee. Thank goodness for coffee, right?

At CAHR19, we serve coffee from 7:00am – 9:00am every day. Roll in before 9:00am to get your fix, and add in any creamers (we’ve got dairy-free options!) and sweeteners to make it your perfect cuppa. See you at the coffee station!

Thank goodness for coffee, right? via GIPHY

Warm Food, Warm HR Friends

We also prioritize serving a delicious hot buffet for lunch, which allows you to enjoy your meals at a table – and make new connections! 

Some of the richest experiences CAHR19 attendees enjoy are the opportunities to form meaningful relationships. It can be lonely in HR – so do your best to take advantage of this time to get to know others who “get it!” 

Who knows? You could learn something practical, you could form a budding friendship, or you could find your next job through the bright people you meet at CAHR19! Every year, we hear stories of all the above. Make it your reality and take initiative to connect with others at lunch time, and at our Meet to Eat dinner outings.

Pro Tip: Jumpstart your connections at our First-Time Attendee Orientation at 7:30am on Monday or Tuesday!

That feeling when you try something new…and love it!


Do you live your life around your dietary restrictions?

We know that struggle. That’s why we work with our chefs at the Long Beach Convention Center to provide options for you at every mealtime.

When you register for CAHR19, simply select Vegan/Dairy-free/Gluten-free and rest assured that you’ll find something good – and instagrammable, if you’re into that! – to eat for lunch *and* during refreshment breaks in the expo, to keep your fuel tank burning. 

Join us at the 2019 California HR Conference in Long Beach, August 25 – 28 for a continuing education experience that’s personally, professionally, and culinarily unique to California.


Register for CAHR19 today and catch the savings! Prices increase after July 31, 2019.