Veteran of Food Network, Good Morning America to lead marketing, merchandising panel discussions at the 2024 NGA Show in Las Vegas
Washington, D.C. – Celebrity chef Curtis Aikens will join the National Grocers Association’s Creative Choice Awards program as emcee during the 2024 NGA Show, March 10-12 in Las Vegas.
Aikens will present awards for excellence in marketing and merchandising, and lead panel discussions with the award winners as part of “Snack and See: Unwrap Innovative Insights from the 2024 Creative Choice Award Winners,” during the NGA Show on the afternoon of March 10.
“Chef Curtis brings an excitement and enthusiasm for food and healthy eating that will translate well for the Creative Choice Awards, which recognize independent grocers for, among other things, their ability to engage with consumers in a meaningful way,” said Laura Strange, NGA chief communications and engagement officer, and senior vice president.
The annual Creative Choice Awards competition, presented by Kellanova and Unilever, honors the best marketing and merchandising programs in the grocery industry. Award winners gain respect throughout the industry and receive national recognition at The NGA Show.
As one of the original celebrity chefs, Curtis Aikens has educated and entertained food lovers since 1988. A Food Network pioneer and a regular cast member of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Aikens dispenses more than just food-related advice and recipes; he is a passionate advocate for literacy and a champion leading the charge against diabetes.
A native of Georgia, Aikens’ fondness for fresh produce began as a small boy, as he followed his grandfather through the garden. His interest grew during high school, when he worked at a local A&P supermarket.
After attending Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., Curtis relocated to California, worked at a grocery store in the San Francisco Bay Area and opened his first produce company, called Peaches. Next, Aikens moved to New York to head produce departments for Dom’s Wholesale Market and Balducci’s, responsible for such clients as the United Nations Cafeteria, the Plaza Hotel and the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. Aikens’ television career began as a consultant and food stylist on commercials for Pizza Hut, Pillsbury and McDonald’s.
In 1988, Aikens returned to Georgia to launch Aiken’s Family Produce Inc., a wholesale and retail supplier of produce for clients ranging from school districts to the TV series “In the Heat of the Night” and the feature film “Glory.”
Aikens has been with the Food Network since its inception, hosting shows such as “Pick of the Day,” “From My Garden,” “Meals Without Meat” and “Food in a Flash.”
The NGA Show has been the place where independent grocers gather for more than 40 years, connecting supermarket retailers and wholesalers, food manufacturers and service providers from around the world to share innovative solutions and best practices that support and strengthen the independent supermarket channel. The NGA Show is produced and managed by Clarion Events as part of the Food & Beverage Group in partnership with the National Grocers Association (NGA). For more information and to register, visit www.theNGAshow.com.
The National Grocers Association is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating more than $250 billion in sales, 1.1 million jobs, $39 billion in wages and $36 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit www.nationalgrocers.org.
Clarion Events (US.ClarionEvents.com) produces 37 events across 13 sectors of both trade and consumer events. Clarion Events, which is the U.S. division of Clarion Events UK and backed by The Blackstone Group, has become one of the fastest-growing event companies in the U.S. with aggressive growth through both acquisition and launch. Clarion acquired PennWell in early 2018, bringing four Tradeshow 200 events into the U.S. portfolio and supercharging the already rapid growth. Clarion Events has offices in Shelton, CT; Tulsa, OK; Tacoma, WA; and Fairlawn, NJ. www.US.ClarionEvents.com.