Industry Update
Press Release 8 May 2019

BENCHMARK’s Sebastien Layen Named Senior Chef Champion In IACC’s Global Copper Skillet Competition

Executive Chef at Deloitte University Demonstrates Extraordinary Culinary Skills

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Benchmark Hospitality International

The Woodlands (Houston), Texas - BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, announces that Sebastien Layen, executive chef at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas, was named winner of the 2019 IACC Global Copper Skillet Competition, held recently in Toronto. IACC (formerly the International Association of Conference Centres) introduced the culinary competition in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skill of the best chefs from IACC-member conference venues around the world, and to honor chefs' contributions to providing an outstanding meeting experience. Chef Layen was the winner of regional competitions in IACC's Americas Chapter competition prior to advancing to the finals.


This year's competition was held at the IACC Americas Connect Conference, which took place in Toronto. Finalists from IACC'S Americas, European and Australian Chapters competed for the title of Global Copper Skillet Champion.

The competing chefs were presented with basic pantry items along with a "mystery basket" of proteins and other fresh grocery items. They were given 15 minutes to gather ingredients and 30 minutes to prepare them. Chef Layen won the day with a crusted beef medallion, fig and maple syrup gastrique and a roasted fig, artichoke and root vegetables barigoule.

"We are tremendously proud of Chef Layen's achievement, that reflects the commitment of our conference center chefs to reaching new heights of innovation and quality," says Benchmark CEO Alex Cabañas, who also serves as IACC's Board of Directors President. "Benchmark has long recognized the importance of creative food and beverage offerings to the meeting experience and is a pioneer in developing authentic, creative and delicious food at our hotels and conference centers." He notes that Benchmark has introduced a range of ground-breaking culinary initiatives to the meetings industry, including a partnership with the pioneering celebrity Chef Stephan Pyles to create new restaurant concepts, menu development, and training that impact every aspect of the food and beverage product.

About Executive Chef Sebastien Layen

Executive Chef Sebastien Layen brings a distinguished and varied culinary background to his position at Deloitte University where he oversees all aspects of food preparation for the property. Specializing in the classic cuisine of his native France, he has served in executive positions at several prominent hotels including Hyatt, Omni and Le Meridien. Trained in Europe, he holds advanced degrees in hotel management from L'Ecole Hoteliere de la Citadel de Namur in Belgium.

Chef Layen's global travels have influenced his culinary style, with experience in kitchens in Belgium, Tahiti and major American cities including, Miami, New Orleans and San Diego.

About IACC

Founded in 1981, IACC is dedicated to representing the best meeting venues globally and is, by definition, the future of the meetings industry realised. The association brings together the brightest, most innovative minds from around the globe. IACC elevates the meeting experience by creating a unique point of entry that is inclusive of the best-in-class meeting venues internationally. IACC membership is a symbol of meeting excellence and exceptional connections amongst the best in the meeting industry. This exclusiveness makes IACC's members part of an elite group representing the most innovative, forward-thinking and results-driven meeting venues globally.

All members meet a set of stringent Quality Standards and agree to a Code of Ethics. IACC includes over 400 member conference venues from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Wales, Canada, Costa Rica and the United States.

The IACC Mission Statement: "To bring together the brightest industry minds to promote the best meeting venues, which deliver exceptional meeting experiences. There are meetings... And then there are IACC Meetings".

The IACC Vision: "IACC is a global community of passionate people and organisations delivering innovative and exceptional meeting experiences.

About BENCHMARK, a global hospitality company

BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, is a leader in the development, management, and marketing of independent, soft branded, and experiential hard branded resorts, hotels, and conference centers. In addition to the company's award-winning full service Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, its lifestyle and luxury Gemstone Collection, and its industry-leading Benchmark Conference Centers. BENCHMARK is also an investor in etc.venues, a leading provider of contemporary city centre venues for meetings, signature events, and conferences. Benchmark's combined portfolio features more than 80 unique projects across three continents. The company is passionately committed to delivering personal, inspiring, and memory-making experiences, driving total revenue and profitability, and cultivating an award winning, "Be The Difference" culture for all its employees.

Benchmark, is based in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, with offices in London, England; Miami, Florida; Park City, Utah; Scottsdale, Arizona; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Seattle, Washington; and Tokyo, Japan.

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Ken Ellens
Ken Ellens Communications
Phone: +1 201 758 2864
Fax: +1 201-758-2865
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