Disclaimer: All photos were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic. NOWFE is committed to producing safe events and will abide by all Covid-19 rules and regulations and in compliance with state and local guidelines.


November 26th, 2018

The Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award Goes To… “Mr. Hospitality”

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA—The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) is thrilled to announce that the 2019 Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award will be bestowed on the unofficial “Ambassador for New Orleans,” Mark Romig. The gala celebration will take place on January 17th, 2019 at 7pm at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Canal Street. “We are so pleased to honor Mark Romig for the extraordinary achievements and contributions he has made to the hospitality and tourism industry,” states Gail Varuso, incoming NOWFE President. “Mark’s genuine passion and enthusiasm for New Orleans and the state of Louisiana are contagious. He truly is “Mr. Hospitality.” And his spirit for community collaboration and public engagement make him a true asset our City will cherish for many years to come.”

Mark is the President and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, the city’s leisure travel promotion organization, and the stadium announcer for the New Orleans Saints. Prior to joining NOTMC, Mark served as Vice-President of Marketing and Public Relations for HCA Inc. – Delta Division (Hospital Corporation of America). Mark also had a sixteen-year career at Peter A. Mayer Advertising, where he was named Top Executive by the Advertising Club of New Orleans. From 1985 to 1987, and then again for a brief period in 1988, Mark served on the Secretary’s staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C. There, he worked as a Staff Assistant to Secretary Elizabeth H. Dole, and performed a similar role for Mrs. Dole during her husband’s run for the presidential nomination in 1987-88. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Mark was Director of Protocol and Guest Relations for the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition (1984 World’s Fair). Immediately following the World’s Fair, he served a brief stint as Executive Director of LaFete, New Orleans’ Summer Festival, the non-profit organization promoting New Orleans during the summer months. Prior to joining the World’s Fair team, Mark was part of the team that developed the New Orleans Inter-Continental Hotel, and was hired as its first National Sales Manager.

Active in the community, Mark is the volunteer President and CEO of the 2018 NOLA Foundation, the non-profit agency organizing the New Orleans’ Tricentennial celebration. He is the Immediate Past Chair of the Louisiana Travel Association, an advisory board member of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, a member of the Board of Directors of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Academy of the Sacred Heart, WYES-TV and the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Saints player Thomas Morstead’s What You Give Will Grow Foundation. Mark is the Second Vice Chair of Audubon Nature Institute, and is a member of Board of Directors of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the annual PGA TOUR ‘s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.  Mark is also a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Travel and Tourism Council.

Mark served as Co-Chair of the Media & PR Committee for the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII Host Committee. He is also a past Chairman of the Board of The Idea Village, a former President and Chairman of the Board of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Committee, a past member of the New Orleans City Park Board of Commissioners, a past board member of Covenant House of New Orleans, a past member of the Board of Trustees and Board Secretary for Xavier University of Louisiana, and he has served as Chairman of the Board of Project Lazarus and the Southern Repertory Theater. Mark is also past International President of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity (TKE), and a former board member of the TKE Educational Foundation. Mark is a graduate of the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute and Leadership Louisiana, and for several years, he taught public relations courses at Tulane’s University College.

Mark graduated from Brother Martin High School and attended the University of New Orleans, where he received his B.S. from the School of Business Administration (School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration) in 1978. While in college, he interned at the Royal Orleans Hotel, working in several departments to gain experience and credit toward his degree. He was named the school’s outstanding alumnus in 2012. In 2013, the Greater New Orleans Chapter of the Louisiana Restaurant Association awarded Mark with its Distinguished Service Award. In 2016, he received the University of New Orleans’ Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award,  Mark is a member of St. Rita Parish in New Orleans. He was also honored by the Young Leadership Council as a Role Model and received St. Elizabeth’s Guild Volunteer Activist Award in 2008. In 2018, the Ad Club of New Orleans presented Mark with its highest honor, the Silver Medal Award.

The Ella Brennan Award recognizes one individual each year that has made a lifetime commitment to the hospitality industry through extraordinary leadership, personal and professional accomplishments and philanthropic contributions to the community. The Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award is named for restaurateur legend Ella Brennan. Her deep passion and commitment has made a significant and longstanding impact on the New Orleans hospitality industry. The award’s past recipients include Chef Paul Prudhomme, philanthropist Bill Goldring, Chef Leah Chase, restaurateurs Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, Audubon leader Ron Forman, local restaurateur Ralph Brennan, and celebrity chef and philanthropist Emeril Lagasse.

Tickets to the event will be available at nowfe.com before the end of October for $175 per person, $1500 for a table of ten, and VIP tables of ten are also available for $2500. Proceeds benefit the 2019 NOWFE Beneficiaries the NOCHI (New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute) Scholarship Fund and Café Reconcile.

NOWFE 2019 is set for April 3 – 7, 2019.


For more than 25 years the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has showcased the culinary excellence in our community alongside national and international wines at wine dinners in many of the city’s finest restaurants; at VINOLA, a premium tasting event; at the iconic Royal Street Stroll; at dozens of culinary seminars and demonstrations; at the Big Gateaux Show; and ultimately at the Grand Tastings. NOWFE is a non-profit organization with 100% of proceeds going to causes that support culinary education. It has raised more than $1.2 million for local non-profit organizations. www.nowfe.com.

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