San Diego Convention Center Fish Taco Cart Debuts at Social Media Marketing World

Fish tacos and craft beer are the ideal food and beverage pairing when it comes to San Diego. With our proximity to Mexico and a booming craft beer scene that has earned us the title, "Capital of Craft," tacos and beer are part of the quintessential guest experience when visiting our city.

The San Diego Convention Center has embraced this pairing by debuting a unique addition to the convention culinary experience: an in-house fish taco cart.

#Foodies attending Social Media Marketing World helped us by being the official "taste testers" of our new menu option, a win for both meeting planners and attendees. The convention is considered the world's largest social media conference and this year, an estimated 4,000 are in attendance from 64 countries.

The mobile fish taco cart is the idea of our in-house food and beverage team, Centerplate. General Manager Gabriel "Bobby" Ramirez wanted to create a whole new "experience" that is driven by food, highlighting what our culinary scene is known for.

The fish taco cart is another example of how Centerplate strives to remain on the cutting edge of dining options during meetings.

"Being a mobile unit, we can place the cart anywhere in our halls giving our clients endless setup options," said Ramirez. "Understanding that fish tacos are not something that can be premade, this brings a fresh, made-to-order product, directly to the customer anywhere in our convention center.

Executive Chef Daryl O'Donnell is the culinary master behind the recipe. He and his team tasted numerous types of fish for flavor and year-round sustainability. The batter was perfected after tasting through multiple variations of spices and different types of craft beer.

"We begin with our signature craft beer batter made with Red Trolley Ale, a classic red ale brewed by one of San Diego’s original craft breweries, Karl Strauss," said O'Donnell. "Then we batter and lightly fry fresh cod, top it with shredded cabbage, jalapeno-cilantro aioli, lime and serve on warm white corn tortillas."

"From frying the craft-beer-battered cod, to pressing the tortillas, each step of preparation is completed on our custom cart, made to order directly in front of our customers," said Ramirez.

"It is important to stay innovative and creative with food and beverage at meetings because our clients are always wanting to experience what's new and exciting in food trends," said Executive Vice President & General Manager Karen Totaro, CVE. "Concession foods can sometimes be considered generic and we want to stand out by providing exciting options for our visiting clients."

Centerplate and the San Diego Convention Center champion sustainability in every aspect of its business model. The ingredients for these tacos were locally sourced. As often as possible, our chefs buy fresh produce and proteins from within a 100-mile radius. In this case, the cabbage is from Yuma and the Imperial Valley, tortillas were custom-made from Food Land in National City and cilantro and jalapenos were also locally purchased.

Adding to our sustainability, there are no garbage disposals in our kitchens. We compost all unedible food and any untouched food is donated to the San Diego Rescue Mission or San Diego Food Bank. In fiscal year 2017, 54 tons of edible food leftover from events were donated to those in need by the San Diego Convention Center. That translates to 85,000 meals for hungry San Diegans.

Barbara Moreno's picture
Posted by Barbara Moreno, on March 1, 2018
Meeting Planners

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