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NACE cooks at 2004 conference

With "Xtreme NACE" as its theme, the National Association of Catering Executives kicked off its 2004 confernece in San Diego on Sunday at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina.

Yesterday's events included a chef-wear fashion show with dignitaires including 1998-2004 NACE National President Jerry Edwards, CPCE, on the runway.

Model behavior: Chefs--both for-real and for-fun--parade down the runway during the 'Fresh Xtremes' session (left).

The Chef's Panel featured moderator Bradley Toles, of the California Culinary Olympic Team, polling stellar area chefs for their suggestions on achieving restaurant-quality food in a banquet setting. Michael Stebner, chef/owner of Region, said he buys at the market without a planned recipe, which "makes it hard for catering sales." Toles encouraged the group to focus on quality and flavor rather than on presentation.

It's elemental: Dramatic tabletops show the power of strong floral and color combinations (right).

At the Leadership Lunch, the newest class of CPCE-accredited members was honored, as were the new NACE leaders. Kevin Brandt, CPCE, incoming NACE president, thanked Edwards, who said that serving as NACE president was "the honor of my life--I am the luckiest person in this room."

The conference continues through today, concluding in a gala dinner/dance with a "Rhapsody in Blue" theme.

Showing their smarts: The newest crop of CPCEs shows off their hard-won plaques at the Leadership Luncheon (left).

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