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Esprit History

Established in 1995, the Esprit Awards have become a symbol of industry excellence and evolved into one of the most respected awards competitions in the industry. The awards competition was conceptualized as a means to increase industry awareness, elevate professionalism, and inspire growth in an emerging profession. Today, the Esprit Awards honor ILEA members’ best, most creative and innovative contributions to the industry.

On Friday, August 11, 2017 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Bright Ideas Events was awarded 2 prestigious ILEA Esprit Awards for the same event.

The First Award

The first ILEA Esprit Award was for Best Culinary Innovation. Cowell Culinary Chaos was the answer, an inclusive, fully interactive cooking competition, inspired by Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, that needed to involve 350 guests all at the same time! Three teams competed from Registration, through the Cocktail Reception, and into the Finale and evening activities.  They had to complete food prep recipes by filling in the blanks with words they received at Registration.   Each team had a different recipe with its own set of words, but they included both real and decoy items, so they even had to work together to sort out which words to even use!

Cowell Culinary Chaos Esprit Award

The Second Award

The second ILEA Esprit Award, was for Best Corporate Event. Then, team members sourced missing ingredients or tools from The Pantry, shelves located around the room, filled with all of those real and decoy items.  Each team’s Chef – their boss! – began prepping.  But, teams had only the 90 minute Cocktail Reception to prep their recipe, so if someone arrived too late and received a key ingredient word card at Registration, like “chicken stock” for a soup recipe, too bad!  Stir-fry it is!

After dinner and Awards, the 30 minute cooking phase of the competition began.  So, the recipes now had a new section with more missing items!  Guests could be heard proclaiming, “This must be what the centrepieces are for!”  We had tastefully designed arrangements containing the last few ingredients and tools.  Things like salt, watercress, chicken stock, even the tableware the entrée was to be plated on!

Then came the tasting and critiquing of whatever the Chefs managed to put together!  One Chef, who’s team was sabotaged repeatedly when opposing members hid their equipment, stole their words, and ‘used’ the wrong ingredient by accident, presented the prop fished that had been displayed as an ingredient on The Pantry shelves!

In the end, the winner of the cooking competition wasn’t the only victor.  Cowell Culinary Chaos won back the faith of the guests in catered corporate events, the hotel realized that a collaboration with an experienced event planner can produce a ground-breaking calibre event, and Vancouver witnessed a culinary innovation engineered out of creativity and the need for something new!

To see a full list of all winners, please click here.

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