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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Ovations takes a fresh approach

Whether it’s for a plated, sit-down dinner or a specialty concession stand, you expect the food you order for your meetings to be fresh. Ovations Food Services, which, like Global Spectrum, is a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor, thinks that’s not the only thing that should be fresh. Ovations supplies food and beverage for Global Spectrum properties and others managed by the parent company.

“We think fresh food is a given,” said Steve Gregosky, Ovations’ senior vice president for business development and Innovations Creative Studio. “Of course we pay special attention to that because our focus is on sustainable, farm-to-table food using local and regional sources.”

The fundamental philosophy behind Ovations’ “Everything’s Fresh” tagline also describes the company’s culture: fresh management, fresh ideas and fresh menus.

Established in 1997, Ovations serves 9 million-plus customers in more than 120 venues throughout the United States and Canada, with general managers located onsite.

At the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Michael Ransom oversees a team of chefs who prepare food for action stations, themed buffets, plated meals and specialty concessions. Customizing is their forte.

“We have menus to use as guidelines, but probably half are custom-made,” Ransom said. “We can do anything you want.”

Pork is a popular entree alternative to chicken or beef as it’s plentiful in Iowa, but entree salads with vinaigrette dressings have really taken off, Ransom said.

Organic is another popular trend.

“We get anything organic we want — beef, chicken, vegetables,” he said. “No matter what we order, all our fresh herbs are organic.”

Being in the heartland puts zucchini, corn, lettuce and other fresh produce within easy driving distance, which makes it easier for Ransom’s team to get the necessary ingredients.

Having fun with apps
Ovations chefs get especially creative when it comes to appetizers. They realize that guests often need to manage food and drinks without spills as they move around.

“We do a lot of fun things, like soup shooters, with tomato basil or bouillabaisse in a shot glass, passed around by hand,” Ransom said. Fresh tomatoes and mozzarella on skewers, mini chicken potpies, micro crab cakes and mac-and-cheese bites are other creations.

Portable concession stands make it easier to keep up with convention crowds. Choices are often tailored for each group. At a recent quilting convention at the Iowa Events Center, for example, Ovations offered specialty soups and a baked potato bar instead of hot dogs and other typical concession fare.

For a Christian home school association’s convention, where many children accompanied their parents, Ransom’s team prepared children’s sack lunches with turkey sandwiches and apple slices.