On Monday night, let Muse inspire you!
The Monday night party at Catersource and Event Solutions has become well-known for its over-the-top culinary and décor inspirations. In fact, the name of this year's event - Muse - has never been more appropriate.
From the time of Zeus, Muses have historically inspired creativity in artists. Your muses on this night are Cade Nagy and Dan Smith from Catering by Design in Denver, who this year are joined by Rob Barber and Brian Shaughnessy of Atomic Design as co-producers.
This dynamic team (along with a talented supporting cast) is planning an event with nine unique event stations to a-muse you: a French floral market serving monochromatic salads; a surreal table-to-farm experience; Mécanique for all things hot; an homage to the street food craze; Choux Fetish; a modern French/Asian fusion station; a station where it's your choice -- fondue or fondant; an area serving pop culture bakery favorites; and s'Wig, a specialty cocktail station.
"This event is always super innovative," Steve Kemble, our ambassador for all that is "SassFab" at the show, says. "Trends start here! And what's amazing about Cade is that he and his team continue to inspire us every year with creative ideas in décor and entertainment, as well as delicious food."
Kemble chatted with Nagy, who has worked on the Monday night event for eight years in various capacities; sometimes producer, designer or caterer, and sometimes all three. While Kemble couldn't get Nagy to spill the beans about any surprises in store, he was able to find out how this all-star team faces this huge challenge year after year with such style and creativity.
How far out from the event do you begin creating the theme, the menus and the entertainment concepts?
After last year's event -- Harmony at The Hard Rock -- we sat at the pool on Tuesday morning soaking our swollen feet. Dan and I started planning next year's event while the rest of our team sat there ready to kill us. So it started one year ago. But the real planning really starts about six months prior to us heading to Vegas. Seven site visits took place to secure the space and meet with support teams. All and all, it takes about two solid months of my time each year to plan it.
What is the intention each year?
To always bring the "wow" to the table. It's always our intention to bring ideas to attendees that they can take away and actually use in their markets, no matter what the scale. Sometimes trends start here, and sometimes they end here. Either way, we want people to walk away with something. Muse promises to do the same. And by being at The Paris hotel this year, we had a giant Eiffel Tower to work with. So we wanted a little bit of French, but not too much. Guests will experience a fusion of sassy, chic, and a lot of ooh la la.
Now you are speaking my language! Who are some of your key partners this year?
Atomic Design is the biggest addition to Muse. Their products are integral to the event's success this year and they've been in the game from the beginning of the process. This is the first year that we've co-produced the party with anybody and it's shaping up to be a great collaboration so far. Along with all of our sponsors, this year will be one of the biggest productions we've had to date.
What have been some of your challenges?
Coming up with a plan B. This year's event is the first time that we have ever done the Monday night event as a 100-percent outdoor event - this lends to a few sleepless nights. Another challenge is working out of state. For a caterer it's challenging for too many reasons to list here, but the biggest is traveling with all of your product over the Rocky Mountains in the heaviest snowfall month of the year and getting there safely.
What are you looking forward to most about the night?
Several of the stations are exciting to me. Without giving away any secrets, I'd say I'm most looking forward to our "CHOUX Fetish" - as in the pastry "choux," pronounced "shoe" -- and our pool entertainment. But without question, for me personally, after working on this event for almost a year in my head and on note paper, I look forward to the first hour of the party when we open the doors and fill it with great people. That's when I know we have a great party, and I can relax a good bit. (Oh, and when it's all over feels really good too.)
I definitely have both a shoe and a choux fetish! Can't wait to see what you do at that area!!! Lastly, I know this is a team effort with others working behind Catering By Design and Atomic. Who else has been part of the process?
My wife Ingrid is a key player. She's the one who gets to do all of the fun stuff like keeping me on budget, schedules in line, and logistics of getting us there. And Dan Smith, our Creative Director, has a critical role. But it's impossible to rule out the entire team back home from carpenters, to cooks, to our HR staff. Everybody plays a big role in this process.
From outside our teams, several other people make this event happen -- Jeff Snow and his Chef Dave Rooney from Catering Creations, along with Rob Masone. They will be volunteering their time away from their business in Omaha and North Carolina for the fourth straight year. Each year, these three men fly to Denver the week prior to leaving for Vegas and assist in every aspect of preparing this party. Two weeks of their time is dedicated to us and making it work. Without them, we could not pull this off each and every year. And this year, Donna Ford with Sweet Memories, is also a big part of the Muse success. Donna and her team are providing all of the éclairs for the Choux Fetish all the way from South Carolina.
"I love that these people give up their time each year for this and that you all give up all these ideas to your peers each year! Now THAT's SassFab," Kemble says. "Now, let's give it up for Catering By Design and Atomic with a round of applause!"