Dr. Don Harris, pioneer veterinarian and director of the Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center, donned a chef’s hat and took over the kitchen at the Orlando World Center Marriott to cook a gourmet lunch for hotel staff members while attending the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC).
Dr. Harris said that treating the Marriott employees to lunch was his way of saying thank you for their gracious service to him and conference attendees over the last 25 years.
“Sometimes, a simple thank you isn’t enough,” said Harris. “You have to show your thanks. I’ve been attending this conference at this Marriott for nearly 25 years and I’ve gotten to know the people who work at this hotel. They have delivered great service, so they deserved great service.”
After lunch, the accolades just kept coming. Bill Marriott came to town and requested to see Harris. During the visit, Marriott thanked Harris for the kindness he showed the hotel staff. As they were photographed together, Marriott displayed the cookbook River Road Recipes used by Harris as his inspiration for his now-famous Cajun cuisine.
“The whole experience is one of the highlights of my career,” said Harris, who recruited fellow board members attending the conference to help him serve the lunch. On his Cajun menu was Augustus Salad, Crawfish Etoufee, Jambalaya and homemade Canefield cheesecake. Many knew that Harris is also an accomplished musician, but who knew he could cook?
“I’m from Louisiana,” he said. “I could make a leather boot taste good. Anything that I don’t have a cure for, I have a recipe for.”
Harris has always shared his extensive knowledge of exotic animal care with colleagues and has been involved with NAVC since 1989. He has served on the board and is past president of the Eastern States Veterinary Association, the organizer of NAVC.
Harris also serves as a consultant to Animal Planet’s Animal Cops Miami. At his Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center, he and his team provide state-of-the-art medical and surgical care for exotic birds, reptiles and small mammals such as rabbits and ferrets.
The Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center is located at 12125 S. Dixie Hwy. For more information, call 305-234-2473 or go to www.avianexotic.com.