The Grand Tour Gala – Celebrating the World of Hospitality

The Grand Tour GalaTo celebrate the world of hospitality, the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) has announced the 2014 Grand Tour Gala charity fundraiser. The event will be held on November 1st at the Hilton Orlando Resort on International Drive.

At the Grand Tour Gala, the Orlando Chapter of NACE will present its 2014 Dick Pope Legacy Awards. This year’s recipients include Steven Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports; Richard Kessler, Chairman and CEO, Kessler Hotel Group; Adrian Jones, General Manager of Legoland® Florida and VP Merlin Entertainments USA; and Chef Emeril Lagasse, Celebrity Chef and Host of TV’s Emeril’s Florida.

The Dick Pope Legacy Awards, in honor of Dick Pope Sr., honor the leaders of Florida’s tourism and hospitality industries. Dick Pope was the founder of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven Florida in 1936. Cypress Gardens was the first park attraction in Florida and a major source of tourism revenue after World War II.

Professor at The University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management, CSEP, CPCE, and The Grand Tour Gala executive producer Dr. Mary Jo Ross shared, “We are thrilled to recognize these outstanding honorees, who not only excel in their executive roles for their own companies but also provide exemplary leadership in our hospitality industry, in the areas of sporting events, attractions, hotels and culinary experiences.”

The event is also a great scholarship opportunity for Hospitality students. Since the first Grand Tour Gala in 2011, the charity has provided over $180,000 in student grants and scholarships. Recipients include students from the NACE Educational Foundation, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation, and the University of Central Florida (UCF) Rosen College of Hospitality in Orlando.

This year’s Gala will feature a London theme. Guests will enjoy British food and live theater entertainment. To raise funds for the scholarships, donations will be collected through a silent auction. Students from the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management will also attend to offer concierge services to gala guests.

President of the Orlando Chapter of NACE, Patricia Buchanan said, “NACE is excited to have the UCF students play such an important role in this event, as they are the future of our industry.”

For more information, visit For sponsorship details, contact Patricia Buchanan at [email protected] or by phone at (407) 383-2132.