NAFEM and FCSI TAD Symposium: away from the show

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NAFEM and the FCSI The Americas Symposium are just weeks away; what should you do if you get some downtime?

With the FCSI TAD Symposium taking place from 5-6 February, and NAFEM coming hot on its heels between 7 and 9 February, Orlando will welcome the cream of the foodservice crop over the coming weeks. Inside the Orange County Convention Centre, seminars, networking and product launches abound. But in your spare moments, there’s just as much to see, do and eat on the outside. Read on for the inside scoop on what to do at NAFEM and the FCSI TAD Symposium away from the show.


Bull & Bear

The highly acclaimed Bull & Bear is conveniently located for both Walt Disney World and Orlando International Airport. There’s something for everyone on its seafood and steak heavy menu. A popular spot, it’s worth booking now to avoid disappointment.

The Gnarly Barley

America was a catalyst for the global craft beer revolution, and few nations afford sandwiches a more hallowed status in their culinary hierarchy. Gnarly Barley has distinguished itself in both since opening in 2012, with a range of affordable tacos, salads and subs, plus 16 ales on tap. Head to Belle Isle and walk straight in.

Border Grill

Mexican cuisine is a mainstay in the South, and Border Grill is a great venue to sample it. Well worth a visit if you’re in the Windhover area; the tacos come particularly highly recommended.

Dandelion Communitea Café

The mental image of a stereotypical American is more likely holding a well-done steak than a fistful of kale but, as any foodservice consultant can tell you, plant-based diets are on the rise. If you’re looking to charge up on vegan delicacies before the conference kicks off, Dandelion is conveniently located for Orlando Executive Airport.


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Orlando is the theme park capital of the world, and perhaps the capital of Orlando is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Ever since the boy wizard came onto the scene in 1997, punters have been spellbound. Hop on a Hippogriff and immerse yourself.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Awaken your inner child with TripAdvisor’s top amusement park in the world for three years running. Franchises from Jurassic Park to The Cat in the Hat are interpreted through the medium of rollercoaster. May present a welcome palette cleanser after your umpteenth product unveiling.

Disney World

If Universal’s Islands of Adventure is like awakening your inner child, Disney World is like shouting in its face and force-feeding it a pint of coffee. You’ll need to plan ahead as it’s an hour and half drive from the convention centre, but why miss the chance to fleetingly step out of the world of foodservice and into the world of Disney?

Discovery Cove

Much more conveniently located – no more than a couple of miles from the show in fact – is Discovery Cove, a portal to a realm of aquatic adventure.


Holy Land Experience

For something completely different, why not try Orlando’s Holy Land Experience? This museum-cum-theme park-cum-stage production teleports you from Florida to Jerusalem; actors and live shows will give you a fresh perspective on the birthplace of Jesus. An experience you won’t forget.

Madame Tussauds Orlando

Fancy looking at Lincoln or beholding Bieber? Madame Tussauds is the place to do it. All your favourite celebrities and historical leaders in one place, conveniently located for the convention centre and frozen in waxen form.

Museum of Osteology

If you’ve got a penchant for skeletons, you can’t say fairer than Orlando’s Museum of Osteology. Bones galore, and a souvenir shop to boot for a one-of-a-kind souvenir of your trip.


Wekiwa Springs State Park

One of Florida’s state parks, Wekiwa Springs lays claim to being Orange County’s longest running tourist attraction. A great place to familiarise yourself with Florida’s unique sub-tropical flora and fauna, you can even splash out on a canoe ride for the full Wekiwa Springs experience.

Mead Botanical Garden

Mead Botanical Garden isn’t just an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of Orlando – it’s free! Located centrally, it’s the perfect location to unwind after a long day of networking or collect your thoughts before heading home.

Thomas Lawrence