Center Stage

A highlighted feature of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show - Center Stage is an educational, interactive and entertaining area for restaurant and foodservice professionals who want to stay abreast of what's hot in the food world. Come see our featured chefs, watch their cooking demonstrations and taste their samples!

2017 featured presentations:

  • Beacon Award presentation to Carol Dover, President and CEO, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association
  • Rapid Fire Challenge: Key Lime Edition face-off



Check out our entire 2017 Line-up:

   Sunday, September 10

1:00PM - 1:45PM
Art Smith, Celebrity Chef and Humanitarian

Chef Art Smith loves the idea of bringing people together through food. It's partly what made him the success he is today. He is the executive chef and co-owner of Blue Door Kitchen and Garden, Southern Art and Bourbon Bar, 1500 South at the Naples Bay Resort, Homecoming; Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Coming late this year will be his latest restaurant, Art Bird & Whiskey Bar at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

Art Smith has received the culinary profession's highest awards and has cooked for some of the world's most famous celebrities. In 1997, Smith became the person, day-to-day chef to Oprah Winfrey, a position that lasted ten years. Smith now coordinates and cooks for special events all around the world.

Smith has made several television appearances including ABC's Lady Gaga Thanksgiving Special, Top Chef, Top Chef Duets, and returned to Top Chef Masters (for the second time), where he quickly became an audience favorite. Smith was also featured in an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where he lent a hand to a deserving family that has devoted their lives to providing meals for the less fortunate members of their community.

3:30PM - 5:00PM
Rapid Fire Challenge: Key Lime Edition

It’s time for the ultimate showdown. After many submissions, 3 chefs will take the stage to be named the Rapid Fire Competition: Key Lime Edition Champion! The three chefs will demonstrate their dish and provide samples for the judges and the audience. Creativity was put to the test! Check out the 3 finalists who will showcase their recipe featuring Key Lime. Help the judges choose the winner through the Audience Choice portion of the voting. Only one will be named the Champ!


   Monday, September 11

1:30PM - 2:00PM
Beacon Award Presentation to Carol Dover, President and CEO, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association

Carol B. Dover has served as President/CEO of the more than 10,000 member Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) since July of 1995. Dover is a professional association manager, a lobbyist, a former government insider, and a Florida State University Dedman School of Hospitality graduate with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.


2:00PM - 2:45PM
Foodservice Council for Women

Now in its 6th year, the Foodservice Council for Women is a networking organization that connects and promotes women leaders locally and builds connections nationally.  Don’t miss this dynamic panel featuring prominent women leaders in the foodservice industry, who will be sharing their insights, resources and "secrets" for winning in today's competitive marketplace.  


Tuesday, September 12

12:00PM - 12:45PM
Letty Alvarez
Founder & Pastry Chef, LA Sweetz

Letty Alvarez is the founder and head pastry chef of LA Sweetz, LA Sweetz is a top rated cupcake bakery and celebration venue. Letty’s cupcakes and venturesome attitude have been featured on various culinary cable networks such as TLC, Food Network, & The Cooking Channel.