The first order of business at the state’s largest business-to-business EXPO at the Mississippi Trade Mart is putting your best foot forward presenting your business and interacting with other business people who are current or potential customers or vendors. But there is no reason you can’t enjoy some excellent food, music and fun while you are at it.
No one needs to go away hungry with the great food offerings that begin with the kickoff breakfast Thursday at 8:30 a.m. that features food from the popular Mangia Bene Caterers. “Mangia Bene!” means Eat Well! And those two words — Eat Well! — sums up everything you need to know about our mission at Mangia Bene Catering, states the company that also has three popular restaurants in the area, Bravo!, Broad Street, and Sal & Mookie’s.
A full-course lunch will also be served by Mangia Bene Catering, with about 350 to 400 people expected to be in attendance.
Then, late in the day when the crowd swells as people get off work, 21 Metro restaurants will present samples of their best cooking at the most well-attended event of the EXPO, Business After Hours.
“We have an array of great restaurants that participate in providing their best culinary treats for the Business After Hours event that is held from 5 to 8 p.m.,” said Charina Rhodes, an administrative assistant for the Mississippi Business Journal who helps plan the EXPO. “We will have some of the best chefs in the Metro area competing to show off their most delicious offerings.”
There will be awards for the restaurant with the best taste and the one with the best visual. The best visual winner in 2011 was Mangia Bene Catering. The best culinary was Valley Food Services. Both are scheduled to be back again this year, along with many other local favorites.
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About 2,000 people are expected this year, including the vendors and their customers who come in after work. Rhodes said the Business After Hours event gets more popular every year.
“Last year it was standing room only,” Rhodes said. “Business After Hours at the end of the day is a nice time to unwind to some different tastes and choices. You can listen to some live music and network in a very relaxed atmosphere. People enjoy this event because they get to see old friends and meet business associates face-to-face that they might only know from the telephone and e-mail.”
Food will include dishes such as seafood gumbo, bacon-wrapped shrimp, barbeque and deserts. Some of the restaurants and caterers who will be present include King Edward, Lumpkins BBQ, Olga’s Fine Dining and the Downtown Café.
Other highlights of Business After Hours will include a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the awards program Top 40 Under 40, and a door prize drawing for a free cruise.
The 28th Annual Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO is a special project of the Mississippi Business Journal that is presented by Comcast Business Class.