The perfect holiday gift is beautiful, unique and filled with wonder. Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide is all of these things and more: a travel-lover’s delight with enough offbeat facts about food to spark countless conversations at the next cocktail party or event. The lavishly illustrated, newly published book from Atlas Obscura, the popular website that’s a crowd-sourced database of weird and wonderful places across the globe, is a journey through fascinating and often farfetched history, culture, places and traditions, told through the lens of food.

Gastro Obscura is rich with “did you know” gems. Did you know, for example, that The Citrus Collection at the University of California, Riverside, is the largest in America, containing more than 1,000 different citrus varieties across 22 acres? Or, that Beacon Food Forest in Seattle is the country’s largest public edible garden, teeming with 350 species of peans and vegetables and that anyone is allowed to forage here? Or, that Brooklyn Grange operates the largest rooftop soil farm in the world, producing over 100,000 pounds of organic produce every year (its Sunday farmer’s market are free and open to the public). And, you might not know that the country’s last known surviving  horse-drawn lunch wagon is the Owl Night Lunch Wagon, which dates back to the 1890s and is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras, the book’s authors, have been traveling  on their ambitious literary tour with what they call the “World’s Most Unusual Vending Machine.” The customized vending machine dispenses items like canned bread, a berry that makes lemons taste sweet, and a Rwandan spice that’s so tongue-scorching it’s dispensed by eyedropper. Sounds to us like a great interactive experience for a corporate gathering. To order the book or learn about upcoming tour dates, visit books.atlasobscura.com

 

The times they are a-changing, and that has never been truer than when it comes to selecting an A/V partner and deciding whether the in- house A/V vendor or an outside third-party provider is the right partner for you. Due to advancements in technology, lighting and other A/V equipment that has come down in price, planners are now finding op- portunities to use previously out of budget technology with a much more palatable price tag. 

 

Retreats and off-site meetings present wonderful opportunities for groups to collaborate, strategize and build relationships away from their normal office environments. With proper planning, these sessions can be highly effective and even pivotal in setting a new direction. However, off-sites may present some unforeseen challenges that can quickly deflate the energy in the room if not anticipated and addressed in advance.

 

Landing a big-name keynote speaker can be a significant part of your conference budget. That person should add credibility to the event and hopefully boost attendance. But if your speakers just deliver canned presentations before making a quick exit for the airport, you and your attendees are missing the full value they can bring to an event. With some extra planning, you can help set up the speaker and your event for success.