The catering game in Las Vegas, like all other facets of the hospitality industry there, attracts the best and the brightest, and rising to the higher levels of Caesars Entertainment certainly takes more than a lucky roll of the dice.
Michele Polci, who directs the meetings and events catering operations at the company’s nine Vegas properties, leveraged her contacts in the city and good old-fashioned hard work to succeed in the demanding job.
Starting off at Interstate Hotels & Resorts in 1990, Polci may have come to the catering world green, but since then she’s excelled in crafting F&B experiences that provide entertainment all by themselves.
Polci has also worked as a sports manager in San Diego, and in 1997 landed at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on the recommendation of its president, a contact from her sports job who was a big Miami Dolphins fan. Caesars eventually took over the operation of the hotel after being bought by Harrah’s Entertainment.
“They gave me a chance and there was no looking back,” she said. “Vegas is a hard town in that way, because there’s a lot of good people. It comes down to who you know to get the right person to talk to, so I was very blessed in that manner.”
Besides handling Caesars’ nine properties, Polci, who holds the record of the most award-winning caterer in the history of the National Association of Catering and Events, also somehow finds the time to do some teaching in the Meetings and Events department at UNLV’s International School of Hospitality.
As far as current catering trends, Polci said the many food shows on television are driving customer preferences and flavor profiles, with presentation and farm-to-table being much more important these days. Other hot trends include taco trucks and using cauliflower in dishes such as curries as a replacement for carbohydrates.