A Presidential Feast: Behind the Scenes at the 69th Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner

May 31, 2024

On May 20th, 2024, Huntington Place in Detroit played host to the prestigious 69th Annual NAACP Freedom Fund event. This year’s dinner was monumental, not only for its size—serving 5,000 guests—but also for its distinguished attendees, including President Joe Biden and members of the White House. The event has since garnered widespread acclaim, particularly from the Secret Service and White House staff, who were impressed by the seamless execution and exceptional hospitality.

A Presidential Endorsement

President Joe Biden’s attendance marked a significant highlight for the event. Observing the remarkable organization and efficiency at Huntington Place, he was joined by his Secret Service detail, who lauded the convention center for its outstanding management. Matt Lancaster, Huntington Place Public Safety Manager of Operations, noted, "Witnessing the success of the NAACP event reaffirms our commitment to prioritizing our guests' experience and safety above all else. Our dedicated employees worked tirelessly to ensure seamless operations, allowing attendees to focus on the event's purpose while feeling secure and valued."



Behind-the-Scenes Coordination

In the days leading up to the event, Chef Stephan and Sous Chef Robert, along with the staff from Sodexo Live, Huntington Place’s in-house catering company, worked tirelessly, peeling, chopping, and cooking. Massive pots simmered with creamy mashed potatoes, while ovens roasted asparagus and carrots to perfection. Becky Bixby, CEM Interim General Manager, proudly stated, "Our entire team worked together to guarantee that this event was a success. We made sure that every department and partner vendor was in the know, hearing the same information, making decisions collectively, and communicating with all. I’m so proud to be a part of this Huntington Place team!" To see the exact meal  click here.

Culinary Excellence on a Grand Scale

The preparation for the event's dinner was an extraordinary featuring culinary expertise and precision. Hosting 5,000 guests, it stood as the largest annual dining event in the country. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the monumental efforts involved:

  • 1,000 pounds of large asparagus: Freshly steamed and perfectly cooked to add a vibrant touch to the meal.
  • 1,600 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes: Transformed into rich, creamy mashed potatoes using 30 gallons of cream and 70 pounds of butter.
  • 1,000 pounds of baby carrots: Glazed to perfection, offering a sweet and colorful complement to the main dishes.

Fun Stats

To fully grasp the scale of this event, consider these fun facts:

  • The Yukon Gold potatoes could fill an entire truck.
  • The amount of cream and butter for the mashed potatoes could fill several bathtubs.
  • The baby carrots could fill an entire swimming pool.


Security and Hospitality Hand in Hand

The Secret Service, responsible for the safety of President Biden and other dignitaries, praised the coordination and professionalism of the Huntington Place staff. Their seamless collaboration ensured that security protocols were flawlessly integrated with the event's operations, providing a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees. For more information about the Huntington Place security program click here.


Future Prospects

The overwhelmingly positive feedback from the White House has set the stage for future events at Huntington Place. The White House has expressed its intent to return, citing the unparalleled service and hospitality as key factors in their decision. Huntington Place, with its state-of-the-art facilities and dedication to excellence, is honored to have earned such esteemed admiration and trust.

The 69th Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner was not just a celebration but a testament to what can be achieved when culinary artistry, meticulous planning, and a commitment to guest experience converge. As the guests, including the President and his team, departed, they carried with them memories of a night where excellence was not just expected but delivered in every aspect.