A big part of any celebration is the food. But unlike Thanksgiving, where there had better be a pumpkin pie on the table, or the Christmas turkey, or Valentine’s chocolates, successful corporate events shouldn’t rely on the tried and true. People expect to get a taste of catering innovation at corporate events. Choose a menu that has guests talking about the food long after the last appetizer has been served.
Local and seasonal is now the norm – particularly for discerning west coast clientele. Culinary Capers Catering Executive Chef Margaret Chisholm points to trends from both the street and the sea as ones to watch in the year ahead.
“From the catering perspective we feel recreating the street truck and food cart culture and menus at social or corporate events will be big,” says Chisholm. “Lingcod will continue to be a hot fish for us in 2011. “Not only does it have the sustainable Ocean Wise certification, it’s an affordable choice with a tender texture, delicate oceanic flavor, and it’s local.”
Bigger isn’t necessarily better this year either. Chisholm says bite-size hors d’oeuvres are a hit with guests who appreciate not having to juggle plates, glasses, and handshakes in a social setting.
“Guests like things that are easy to eat standing up. Our signature hors d’oeuvres such as Crêpe Purse with Porcini Mushrooms, Savoury Cones with Fresh Dungeness crab, Edible Spoon with Barbecued Duck and Kumquat, and Parmesan Pear Crisps continue to be popular.”
Sustainability concerns are even moving beyond the food itself. Bright Ideas president Sharon Bonner says clients want to minimize their event’s environmental impact wherever possible.
“We’re seeing all kinds of interesting ways to reduce waste. Edible containers are proving popular and when we’re dealing with events where silverware and glassware isn’t practical, our clients are eager to consider alternatives such as cutlery made from biodegradable materials such as bamboo or cornstarch, so that disposable items can be composted instead of thrown into the landfill.
Bonner also sees fewer sit-down meals on the horizon.
“I expect we’ll have more reception style events, with food stations and hors d’oeuvres rather than big dinner events. They’re cheaper, guests can mingle more easily, and with many people carefully considering healthy food choices, it’s easier to offer a wider variety of options.”
Bonner also cautions event organizers to keep transportation in mind. BC’s stricter drinking and driving laws mean that if alcohol is being served, it’s even more important to include substantial food and safe ride options in the event budget, whether that’s chartering buses, or offering taxi vouchers to guests, so they can enjoy the evening without worrying about getting home.
Awards Season Awaits, Summer Events on the Horizon
We were busy taking notes on the best speeches during last weekend’s Academy Awards, because Bright Ideas may soon have an award or two of our own to accept!
Bright Ideas Event Coordinators has been nominated for a National Star award for our Rock and Roll Barbeque event held in August 2010. Awards will be presented at the 2011 CSEME show in Toronto on March 25. Classic cars, famous 50s entertainers, and delicious drive-in favorites made this event a winner with guests too.
Closer to home, Bright Ideas Event Coordinators president and Founder Sharon Bonner has been nominated for the Ethel Tibbits Women of Distinction award in the business category. Created to honour the memory of Ethel Tibbits, founding publisher of The Richmond Review newspaper, who earned a reputation for speaking out against social injustices, the ‘Ethels’ have raised more than $175,000 for local women’s charities since 1994.
Not only are we hoping to win a few awards, we’re getting ready to give them out too. Bright Ideas is producing the 2011 Any Woman competition. The event draws attention to the achievements of women and motivates and encourages women to utilize their full potential and share a positive outlook on life with others. Nominations are still open, so be sure to let the amazing women in your life know about this ground-breaking event. We’re looking forward to meeting the many BC Any Women we know are out there. Please join us Saturday, June 25, 2011 at the Rocky Mountaineer Train Station located at 1755 Cottrell Street, Vancouver, when we will choose the BC representatives for the national finals in Toronto on Thursday, Sept 8, 2011.
We’re also busy getting ready for the summer. Lots of clients are choosing outdoor theme events this year and we’re looking forward to sharing in the fun in the sun. Of course, in the events business Christmas is always just around the corner. We’re also planning lots of Christmas events already and the best venues are booking up fast. If you’re ready to start planning your holiday season office party or client appreciation event, please get in touch so we can help you create memorable festivities.
Ask An Event Planner
Where do I start when planning catering for my event?
The first thing you need to do is to analyse your guests needs, event agenda, and available space. For example, if you have a group of men coming for a one hour reception and there isn’t space for a buffet dinner, consider a menu with hearty food stations and fulfilling appetizers.
What’s a common catering mistake?
It’s not uncommon to underestimate the amount of desserts per person when a dessert buffet is being offered. Guests often want to try several items and take more than anticipated. Always increase the per person dessert allotment to allow people to indulge their sweet tooth.
What is the number one catering “no-no”?
Messy, hard to eat foods. Special events are rarely the right place for heaping plates of pasta or finicky foods that required special utensils and an engineering degree to eat. Never offer your guests complicated hors d’oeuvres when there are no plates during the reception. Not only will guests feel uncomfortable eating them, but they may spill food on their clothing and leave the party early. You don’t want your event to be associated with an unexpected dry cleaning bill!
Top Tastes for 2011
We asked Margaret Chisholm of Culinary Capers to choose three dishes she thinks will be top tastes in the year ahead. A clear trend is emerging. Good things come in small packages. Hopefully these delightful dainties won’t leave you drooling on your computer!
With everyone watching their weight, miniature ‘one bite’ desserts will continue to be strong into 2011.
Photo: Petite Chocolate Cream Pies. Courtesy of: Foodie Photography
Jewel hors d’oeuvre
In 2010 we created a new collection of “jewel-sized” hors d’oeuvre – petite versions of popular hors d’oeuvre for clients who wanted a very elegant, one-bite, no sticks, no picks, no dips, no bones hors d’oeuvre for their events.
Photo: Champagne poached pear on a Parmesan crisp with peppered Boursin cheese. Courtesy of: Brian Dennehy
Clients are loving our cheesecake lollipops. Easy to eat standing up, they look and taste exquisite. We have created many variations to compliment the seasons.
Photo: Cheesecake pops encased in milk, white and dark chocolate and dipped in crushed pistachio. Courtesy of: Brian Dennehy
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