The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco was ahead of the nation’s growing gourmet popcorn trend when it first started featuring the tasty treat during its Summer Movie Nights program three years ago. And now the hotel is offering popcorn with a side of relaxation as part of its PopCalm Break for meetings.
Gail Gerber, area director of sales and marketing for the InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco, says that it made sense to have popcorn with the movie program, but the chefs didn’t want to do just any kind of popcorn. As they continued to experiment with innovative flavors each year, they realized some of the ingredients they used had antioxidants. This made the popcorn not just nutritious, but also a kind of stress reliever—an ideal treat between intense meetings.
“All of us deal with stress in our lives, and food does help your mood,” says Gerber. “Something like this takes popcorn out of being a healthy snack but a snack that really helps you. It’s not just about looking at the calories, but also the psyche, which I think is fun.”
The PopCalm Break menu features three popcorn blends that each has a different nutritional value.
- Basil, Parmesan Cheese, Garlic & Sea Salt: The basil has antioxidants that protect cells from harmful free radicals, damaging molecules that contribute to heart disease and cancer.
- Ginger, Coconut & Wasabi Salt: The ginger helps keep the arteries in the heart clear, as well as helps against harmful bacteria and boosts the immune system. Ginger is also a potent treatment for nausea.
- Chili Pepper, Red Curry & Lemon Grass: All three ingredients are good for antioxidants like Vitamin A and flavonoids like beta-carotene and lutein. They protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals caused by stress and disease conditions. Chilies contain a large amount of potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium.
Meeting planners can choose to have the PopCalm Break set up in a variety of ways. Usually, they request to have the popcorn served in large bowls with smaller bowls for attendees to snack from, Gerber says, but they have also chosen to put it in bags. Planners can also opt to incorporate the hotel’s popcorn cart for a complete carnival- or movie-inspired theme.
Up next: Attendees may soon see the gourmet popcorn on the bar menu at the hotel’s famous Top of the Mark rooftop lounge on the 19th floor. Gerber says the chefs are currently discussing it as a possibility as the snack continues to gain in popularity among guests.