Inside Our St. Louis Excursions! (Part 1 of a 2-Part Series)

By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Professional Development Manager

St. Louis’s most iconic landmark is the Gateway Arch—but there’s so much more to this historic and vibrant city!

Last November, Daila Boufford, AAFCS director of professional development and market research, and I traveled to St. Louis to check out all that the city has to offer and report back to you why the 2014 Annual Conference in St. Louis is a can’t miss event!  In just a day and a half, we visited our fabulous hotel, the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, met with the gracious and helpful hotel staff, and visited all of the locations of our fantastic excursions!

In one day, we had seven tours to scout out, some of which had multiple locations—luckily, St. Louis is easy to navigate, and most attractions are within 20 minutes of the hotel.

We started our day bright and early at the Starbucks located conveniently in the hotel lobby. I don’t know about you, but a latte and a breakfast sandwich were a good way to start what was sure to be a long day of walking in the cold air! (luckily, we’ll be in Frappuccino weather by the time conference rolls around). Starbucks, of course, has many food options, from yogurt parfaits and fruit, to oatmeal, to baked goods, snacks, and breakfast sandwiches.

If you’re looking for something more substantial and won’t be joining AAFCS for breakfast, RED Kitchen offers a breakfast buffet all morning, and there’s a delicious room service menu! For lunches and dinners you also have some great options—when we got in on Monday, we hurried over to the Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar for some yummy fish tacos, and Monday night we ate at the largest Ruth’s Chris Steak House in North America, located on the other side of the lobby right next to RED Kitchen! Starbucks also has a refrigerator case of salads and sandwiches—perfect for grabbing between sessions!

HospitalOur first stop of the day was the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Food and Nutrition Department, where Clinical Nutrition Manager Amy Schrader, RD, LD, took us on a tour of the kitchens. The hospital was built in 1913—and some parts of the kitchen are original!  But don’t be fooled—the hospital kitchens are using up-to-date practices and systems to make sure that all patients are fed safely and healthily. In the picture to the left, you can see Daila and Amy discussing how gluten-free diets are handled. We learned all about how the complicated system works—and toured all of the kitchens, speaking with long-term employees and the professionally trained head chef. We also got a look at the brand-new industrial dishwasher—it’s the size of a walk-in closet! At the Saturday Food and Nutrition Hospital excursion, Amy will give a presentation about how the Department works with doctors and nutritionists to plan the best meals for patients, and how everything changes day to day. You’ll also take the tour of the kitchens, and speak with one or more of the chefs about how they chose their career path.

History MuseumNext on our list of places to see was the Missouri History Museum, part of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District of St. Louis. At the museum, we were met by Tourism and Group Sales Manager Tami Goldman, who spoke with us about the two great curator talks that will be a part of our Wednesday and Saturday museum excursions—and then we had a bit of time to check out the museum!  One of the highlights was the exhibit on the 1904 World’s Fair, the first to be held in the United States—the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. If you go on one of the museum excursions, make sure to visit this room, right inside the museum, and check out artifacts from the time along with a map of the 1500 buildings of the Exposition!  We were excited to see the Palace of Manufacturers, dedicated to hardware and textiles. The Palace also housed a display from Singer Sewing Machines. I was so excited to learn more about the very first US World’s Fair since my mother used to tell me stories about the 1964 New York City World’s Fair, at which she sang with her school choir!

Before we left, we also stepped into Bixby’s Restaurant, where the Wednesday excursion attendees will be eating, to admire the view of Forest Park—which will be even more beautiful in the summer!  The park is 1,371 acres, and encompasses almost all of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District of St. Louis, including the History Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum (the only remaining building from the World’s Fair) and the St. Louis Science Center. The last subdistrict of the Museum District is the Missouri Botanical Garden, which I’ll write about a bit later in the next post. If you have extra time and aren’t able to join us for a tour, I strongly suggest that you visit the park! You can hop on public transportation for about $3 and get to the park in 30 minutes, or drive in about 20.

After our quick visit at the museum, we headed over to Benton Park Café to meet with Barbara Gokenbach of Show Me MO Tours, who will be our tour guide for the architecture tour part of the Gateway Arch and Architecture Tour. Barbara gave us a taste of all the exciting places to see in St. Louis—and a few ideas for quick stops! She was great to meet with, and we know she’ll be offering a fantastic tour of the city. It was clear just how much she loves St. Louis, and loves talking about her city. Benton Park Café was also a great little find—and it may be the lunch stop for those attending the Anheuser-Busch Beermaster excursion!

HorseOnce we’d enjoyed a quick coffee pick-me-up with Barbara, we headed over to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. While we didn’t have much time due to our packed schedule, we were able to take the beginning of the free tour, which is included in the Beermaster Tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Daila was excited to see the famous Clydesdale horses,  as she grew up working with (much smaller) horses. You don’t realize quite how large they are until you’re standing right next to them!  The brewery was very interesting, and even spending time in the lobby you can learn quite a bit about it. They also have a new restaurant, the Biergarten, just off the lobby—this is the other option for the Beermaster lunch, pending the release of their full menu.

After the Brewery, we stopped for lunch at Rooster, where the architectural tour will be eating lunch.  Absolutely delicious—I really enjoyed the marinated chicken sandwich, and Daila loved the veggie burger! Rooster is very close to the hotel, so if you’re looking for a meal while out and about, we definitely recommend it.

Please come back to our blog next week to learn about the other wonderful St. Louis excursions!

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