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Meet Chef Carl Vollmer
- New Executive Chef for Spectra Food Services & Hospitality, the exclusive, in-house caterer at Gateway Center.
- Attended the Midwest Culinary Institute, specializing in Pastry Arts and began working with Spectra Food Services and Hospitality in 2012 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati.
- Favorite creative presentation: Savory Cupcake – a cornbread cupcake, with mashed potato “icing” topped with a Memphis style chicken wing.

Spectra Food Services is thrilled to announce that Chef Carl Vollmer has joined our team as Executive Chef at Gateway Center. We are proud of his talent, skills and experience in the culinary industry.  We also love the passion he has for his career. He loves what he does every day and he is excited to make this area his new home. Please help us welcome Chef Carl! 

We recently sat down with Chef Carl to get to know him a little better. Here is what we learned...


1) Please tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Cincinnati,OH. I attended the University of Cincinnati, and earned my Bachelors in Spanish. I taught Spanish for three years and decided to change my career and pursue my true passion – cooking. I attended the Midwest Culinary Institute, specializing in Pastry Arts. I began working with Spectra Food Services and Hospitality in 2012 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. I have traveled with Spectra to several convention centers and spent some time in Collinsville over the last 2 years. My wife and I are excited to make this area our new home.

2) What is your previous work experience?
I got my first taste of the culinary world at Findlay Market in Cincinnati, OH, and worked there through college. While working at Findlay Market, I became a certified Cheese Monger. While studying abroad in Queretaro, Mexico, I worked at my host family’s restaurant. Upon returning stateside, I became a Spanish teacher, but always worked in restaurants on weekends and through summers. After three years of teaching, my wife and I decided to take a leap of faith and I enrolled at the Midwest Culinary Institute. Prior to my graduation from the Midwest Culinary Institute, I was hired as the Assistant Pastry Chef at Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, OH. During my time at Duke Energy Convention Center, I was the Head Pastry Chef, Kitchen Supervisor, and, most recently, the Executive Sous Chef.

3) Do you have a specialty or a favorite style of cooking?
I love cooking, so it’s hard to pick a true favorite style. I love Italian, French and other classics. Recently, I’ve become more interested in Middle Eastern and Indian Cuisines. I also enjoy taking average, everyday dishes and presenting them in a new way. My favorite creative presentation is my savory cupcake – a cornbread cupcake, with mashed potato “icing” topped with a Memphis style chicken wing.

4) What is your favorite part about being a Chef?
I can’t imagine not being a Chef! I love what I do every day. The opportunity to teach kitchen staff members new techniques is always a rewarding part of the job. I thrive on the hustle and bustle of convention center kitchens, and the adrenaline rush that happens right before an event. My favorite part of being a convention center chef, is talking to our guests during events and hearing the hush fall over a room as they enjoy our food.

5) What is the menu item that no one orders that you wish that they would?
Typically in convention centers, guests primarily order chicken entrees. I love to work with pork instead. It is versatile and flavorful, and lends itself to culinary creativity for any meal of the day! Right now I am working on a special nod to Collinsville with a stone ground mustard and horseradish encrusted pork loin.

6) What is your most memorable menu or event that you have ever been a part of?
I have been lucky enough to work closely on several really memorable events, and I have tons of favorite stories. For Thanksgiving 2015, I made a 250 pound ostrich for the Fall Feast at Duke Energy Convention Center. Serving nearly 4000 homeless and underserved residents of Cincinnati, this event will always be special to me. The World Choir games each year in Cincinnati was always a fun one! I worked with our team to serve 90,000 people in 10 days. I had the privilege of serving a group of Japanese students their first brownie ever – they loved it! I had the distinct honor of preparing breakfast for Maya Angelou, and serving her in her green room prior to an event. A true favorite event of mine, was Fanfest for the MLB AllStar Game in Cincinnati, OH in 2015. We served 175,000 people in 5 days. As an avid baseball fan, it was awesome to be part of such a notable event. Go Reds! As a classically trained pastry chef, I have had the opportunity to make custom cakes for so many people. I love making wedding cakes and working with couples to customize their cake to reflect their personality and taste.

7) What is your favorite meal personally?
I enjoy hearty home-cooking like my mom’s Chicken and Dumplings. I also enjoy exploring my German heritage with authentic wiener-schnitzel. I always enjoy anything grilled, too!

8) If a planner left the menu planning completely up to you, what would that menu look like?
As a Chef with Spectra Food Services and Hospitality, I appreciate the opportunity to fully customize each and every event. I enjoy working with our catering sales team to learn more about our planners. I would most likely ask for their favorite dishes and surprise them with new and exciting ways to experience those.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Chef Carl! 

Gateway Center is The Great Way to Gather!

We host banquets of all types and sizes.  Types of banquets include cocktail parties, networking mixers, awards banquets, class reunions, fundraising banquets with auctions, holiday parties, rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions, social gatherings, black-tie affairs, and formal galas.  If you are planning an event that needs delicious catering, gorgeous spaces, and planning expertise, Gateway Center is the right fit for you!  Call us at 618-345-8998. 


MIDWEST NEW DIRECTIONS CONFERENCE AT GATEWAY CENTER ON JUNE 14 & 15


Gateway Center is hosting the Midwest New Directions Conference on June 14 & 15.  This event is anticipated to bring 520 educators to Collinsville by an outreach of the Area 5 Regional Offices of Education (ROE #3, ROE #40, ROE #41, ROE #45 & ROE # 50). The philosophy and purpose is to provide the most current and relevant professional development at the lowest possible costs for educators by bringing the biggest and best names in education to present on the most up-to-date and relevant topics.  This intensive and focused training provides the best opportunity for educators to improve their practice. 

The organizers of this group are encouraging out of town participants to make this a family destination by staying in Collinsville hotels and visiting our local attractions, such as: Gateway Fun Park, Uptown Collinsville, Splash City, Cahokia Mounds, as well as offering a teacher’s appreciate night at the St. Louis Cardinal’s game on June 14. 

Please welcome the group attendees next Monday – Wednesday, additional information can be found at:  http://newdirectionseducation.weebly.com/location.html

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Did you know that 800 Gymnasts come to Collinsville every year to complete in The Gateway Challenge Meet against some of the country’s most talented female gymnasts?

The Gateway Challenge Meet is hosted by World Class Gymnastics, a premier gym club in Belleville, Illinois. The year 2016 marks the 19th Annual Gateway Challenge Gymnastics Meet. Gymnasts from throughout the country, ages six to 18, will participate in the prestigious competition and perform all levels of gymnastics. The meet is the only sanctioned meet held in southern Illinois.

Patrick Hulliung, owner and coach of World Class Gymnastics, states, “This unique event is an excellent opportunity for young gymnasts and fans from the St. Louis area to watch all levels of gymnastic talent and to gain a good understanding of what takes place at a competitive meet. Parents and kids contemplating gymnastics should definitely come out to see what it’s all about. We will be showcasing some of the best young gymnastic talent from across the country at this event.”

During the course of the three-day meet, 25 teams will compete in USAG (United States of America Gymnastics) level events including floor exercise, uneven bars, vault and balance beam. Gymnasts compete for individual rankings as well as overall team placement.

A main highlight of the meet is the Team Challenge Event on Saturday evening. The Team Challenge is a high-energy event involving only eight selected teams competing on each of the four apparatuses. Teams choose one gymnast for each event from each level to compete for a chance to earn the title “Gateway Team Champions” and win a cash prize for their gym. This is a spirited event with music and lots of audience encouragement and cheering, making it fun for everyone involved.

“The Team Challenge is truly unique to our event and a major draw to competitive teams who hope to earn the title of champions,” adds Hulliung. “It’s also a great opportunity for the younger gymnasts to compete alongside their more advanced teammates, but in an exciting, fun and relaxed atmosphere.”

The Gateway Challenge Meet attracts more than 2,500 people to Collinsville annually. The attendees include gymnastic enthusiasts, including competitors, friends and family members, coaches and spectators from all throughout the Midwest. The event takes place the first weekend in February each year.  

This year, the Gateway Challenge Gymnastics Event is on Feb. 5-7, 2016, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $10 per adult and $5 per child (12 and Under). Three-day passes are also available.  For more information about this event, please visit - http://www.wcgcusa.com/gateway-challenge/ 

 





Partners in Parkinson’s was in Collinsville visiting Gateway Center on October 31st to promote a strategic health initiative that aims to fill knowledge gaps. 

The conference provided new educational tools and resources for the Parkinson’s community that will help patients optimize their care from diagnosis through advanced disease.

Combining virtual and face-to-face opportunities, Partners in Parkinson’s empowers patients and families to “discover the benefits of team” by connecting them with information and resources that are crucial in developing a plan of care specific to their Parkinson’s.  This event was free and open to the public for anyone suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The Partners in Parkinson’s event, which was sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation and AbbVie, brought nearly 500 attendees to Gateway Center for this prestigious event. Members of the group generated hotel room nights, ate in Collinsville and most importantly educated our local and St. Louis community.

GATEWAY CENTER IS EXCITED TO BE WELCOMING ARCHON 39 THIS WEEKEND!    


Archon is an internationally known, highly regarded and well attended science fiction and fantasy convention. The Archon convention is a locally organized and locally staffed event, presented each year by St. Louis area science fiction and fantasy fans. It includes internationally known media guests, scientist, writers, artists, merchandise dealers and performers and a world recognized Masquerade.  

This convention has been coming to Collinsville since Gateway Center’s inaugural year in 1990.  For 25 years, Archon attendees and their families have been patronizing Collinsville’s hotels, restaurants, and attractions the first weekend of October.  The majority of the attendees dress in costume, so it is completely normal to see Storm Troopers roaming Eastport Plaza during this convention!

Estimated Economic Impact of the ARCHON CONVENTION:  $829,422*

With over 700 total hotel room nights, Archon is a prime example of the economic impact that conventions held at Gateway Center generate for our entire community.  


Please help us welcome ARCHON 39 to Collinsville!



*The number of overnight stays accounted for in the economic impact figures reflected above are inclusive of the quantity of overnight stays arranged through a “room block” that were reported to Gateway Center by either a hotel or convention organizer.  These figures do not include overnight reservations made by individual delegates. The estimated economic impact figures reflected above are inclusive of lodging and food & beverage purchases; however, do not account for any discretionary spending by convention delegates such as retail purchases, recreation, local transportation (taxi-limo), gasoline purchases, entertainment, etc.   

There are several benefits for attending and exhibiting at a home show for both the home owner as well as suppliers of products and services for the industry.


Homeowner Benefits:

• Learn about the latest trends in home renovation and improvement.

• Face-to-face meetings with professional suppliers of products and services for your home.

• Hands on experience with products and services.

• Fun for the whole family!


Exhibitor Benefits:

• Opportunity to display your products and services in front of a “live” audience.

• During show and post show referrals come after attendees spread the word about unique products and services that they saw at the show.

• Participation shows support of the community as well as the local industry.

• Networking with the general public and industry professionals.

The HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION OF GREATER SOUTHWEST ILLINOIS FALL HOME SHOW is coming back to the Gateway Center in Collinsville on Friday, September 11th through Sunday, September 13th, 2015! This event is free to attend.  The hours are September 11th - 4pm to 8pm; September 12th - 10am to 7pm; September 13th - 11am to 4pm.

For more info, check out their website: http://www.hbaswil.org/fall-home-show.php