ACE Inspiration: Sodexo Museum of Science and Industry, part 2

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June 02, 2017

Mid-March, winners of the ACE awards took the stage at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. To enter, each contender was asked to identify the two events the company completed that it felt best represented the company, as well as challenges and favorite aspects.

Throughout the year, will profile the winners and nominees of the 2017 ACE awards. In the next installation of our series, we are placing a keen eye on Sodexo at the Museum of Science and Industry, who took the ACE award for Operations over $2 million in the East region.

Events • East region • Operations over $2 million • Sodexo at the Museum of Science and Industry

Cardinal Health Customer Appreciation Event

Guest fill the event under the wings of a 727 jumbo airliner

Rosemont, Eldorado, Lebanon, Shelbyville…all cities in Illinois with populations less than the number of attendees at the Cardinal Health customer appreciation reception at the Museum of Science and Industry. The planning and coordination required to execute an event for 4,600 people could only be accomplished by the special events team at MSI. Cardinal Health chose Sodexo at MSI to execute their annual customer appreciation night event which featured lavish buffets, crowd-roaring entertainment, and impressive décor all under the awe-inspiring exhibits at the museum.


The main challenge faced was how to deal with 4,600 hungry people all arriving at the museum en masse. With creative floor plans varying the opening and closing of buffets, and interesting and innovative buffet setups, guests casually strolled the museum upon arrival instead of bee-lining for the buffets.

"Despite having extra hour of setup time, the team still had less than two hours for the setup of seven buffet stations, 62 tables, 360 cocktail tables, and 1,220 chairs."

“We used height with buffet risers, smaller portions that were more spread out and we varied the order of the food on each buffet so that guests chose food in the most efficient way possible,” said Stan Hansen, Senior Marketing Specialist.

“Additionally, this event required that we close the Museum of Science and Industry early on a Friday in the middle of July, one of the busiest days of the summer. This was able to be accomplished due to Sodexo’s close relationship with the museum and their willingness to be flexible for the special events team in order to execute this event,” Hansen noted. Yet, despite having extra hour of setup time, the team still had less than two hours for the setup of seven buffet stations, 62 tables, 360 cocktail tables, and 1,220 chairs.

Favorite touches

With over 400,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Museum of Science and Industry, you would think that there would be plenty of space for 4,600 people. However, when you factor in a 40-foot tall tornado, a jumbo 727 airliner, and a World War II German submarine, those guests can fill the space rather quickly.

Guests fill the expansive rotunda for the entertainment.

“We were able to maximize the space by strategically placing buffets, as well as the main stage, so that guests had a clear view of the stage in most areas of the museum. To see the museum filled with 4,600 guests from door-to-door among the awe-inspiring exhibits was an immense spectacle,” said Hansen.

One of the unique aspects of this event that the audience had very heavy East Indian influence. “We had to create a menu,” said Hansen, “that would satisfying those culturally rich cuisines while still appealing to the palate of the remaining guests of the event.” Menu items like the Paneer bites, Gulab Jamun, Bateta Wada and Curried Potato, and Pea Samosas are not typical catered reception menu items; however, they were crowd favorites by the end of the evening.

Curried potato and pea samosa with mango chutney

Butler passed gulab jamun

Tequila salmon ceviche served on plantain chip

Next week on Jaclyn Watson Event’s Enchanted Forest Fete

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