Year after year, the Catersource ACE (Achievement in Catering Excellence) Awards competition honors the finest work in catered events worldwide. For 2021, some categories have been combined, while new categories (thanks, COVID) have been created. Time frames for entries have also been extended, covering pre-, during- (and hopefully) post-COVID quarters.
And in more good news: This year, you can enter the Special Event 2021 Gala Awards in the same online portal as the ACE Awards. Catersource and The Special Event will once again co-locate, running July 19–22, 2021 in Miami Beach at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Both the ACE and Gala Awards will be presented on July 22 at a to-be-determined location in Miami Beach.
Celebrate the wins
In this messed up year, the best thing we can do for our companies is celebrate the wins and show the world—and each other—how resilient we are. Here are some helpful ideas to consider as you ponder which categories you want to submit into.
1. Get it together.
Incomplete entries will not score well. Assemble all of your components, get your high res photos ready, and then complete each entry. If you need to go back, however, all good—you can access and make changes all the way up until close of the competition on February 01, 2021.
2. Write it right.
While they don’t base their decisions on prose alone, judges say that strong, accurate writing goes far in furthering an entry’s progress in the competition. Truly, when there are a lot of entries, those that are well-written will more deeply resonate.
Columbian Ball courtesy Catering by Michaels
3. Let your photos do the talking.
Well written entries aside, your photos will tell the story in an entirely different way. Include as many professional photos as you are able. Ask yourself if the photo you are about to upload is one you would want to see on a ginormous screen in front of all of your peers or in a digital article touting nominees and winners. You can upload up to 25 photos; but can offer as few as 10.
4. Let truth be told.
Please only include catered events that occurred or products that were developed during the time frame noted: September 30, 2019 (yay, pre-COVID) to December 31, 2020. Anything that traded outside of those dates will be disqualified.
5. Get down to specifics.
It's fine to enter the same event in multiple categories; but be sure to write an original entry for each category.
For example, you may absolutely submit your event into “On-Premise Catering East” and also “Use of Space” but be sure the reasoning speaks to the category. Photos might also change out somewhat: one set may focus on food while the second set may focus on venue.
6. ‘Why should my company win?’
A first-rate entry answers this question not just with a mission statement, but a statement about company culture, or resiliency, or longevity, for example. Push your entry to the finish line with a heartfelt treatise on the company.
Barge Party courtesy Mangia Catering
Here are the categories:
1. On-Premise Catering East: Catered events of any size or type in the eastern region, executed in the company’s own venue.
2. On-Premise Catering West: Catered events of any size or type in the western region, executed in the company’s own venue.
3. Off-Premise Catering East: Catered events of any size or type in the eastern region, executed in a venue or area owned by an entity other than the catering company.
4. Off-Premise Catering West: Catered events of any size or type in the western region, executed in a venue or area owned by an entity other than the catering company.
5. Catering International : Catered events of any size or type executed outside of the United States of America, either executed in a venue or area owned by an entity other than the catering company, or on the catering company’s own property.
6. For Suppliers: Product Innovation: Celebrating an innovative product that has helped solve a problem for the catering and events industry. Examples include, but are not limited to, new sanitary and hygienic products, unique packaging, time saving products, and products that can be customized or personalized.
7. Use of Space: Celebrating creativity employed within unique spaces. This award will recognize a company that was able to “think outside the space” when adhering to social distancing restrictions, reworking a problematic or uniquely shaped or sized space, or implementing unique floor plans.
8. Technological Innovation: Technology continues to aid in elevating events to new heights. Whether it’s a fully virtual, hybrid, or in-person event, this award will recognize unique ways that technology has been incorporated, including video, audio, lighting, virtual reality, floor plans, and so much more.
9. For Suppliers: Technological Innovation: Never has it been more clear than now that technology has played a leading role in how we communicate with each other, see each other, work with each other. This award celebrates those who develop software technology that assists caterers & event producers in putting their best business foot forward to satisfy a client’s vision.
10. Community Servant Award: This award will recognize a company that has taken it upon themselves to help the greater community, incurring little financial gain. This can include, but is not limited to, feeding the less fortunate, providing meals for medical staff and first responders, volunteering or providing services at cost for non-profit fundraising, aid to local hospitals or long-term care facilities.
11. Best Boxed or Plated or Contained: This category will honor a caterer who has offered consistently beautiful solutions in to-go/socially distanced catering: boxed, bagged, bottled, or plated items for one or many.
For ACE entries, below are requirements for submission of all categories except For Suppliers: Product Innovation & For Suppliers: Technological Innovation:
What challenges did you face executing this event? (Examples could include an empty space transformed, a lost delivery, rain during an outdoor event, lack of a kitchen, COVID restrictions, etc.)
Choose at least two of your favorite aspects of this event and talk about them. (Examples could be menu development, execution of a field kitchen, how quickly you moved guests from point A to B, a particular trend you felt was executed beautifully, etc.)
Under the Big Top - A 95th Birthday Spectacular courtesy The RK Group
Event photos. Submit up to 25 images (but no less than 5) that best represent your participation in this event. More are better as it provides a full understanding of the event’s scope. Please include the name of the photographer to be properly credited or whether the photos are courtesy of your company.
Event documentation. Please provide any corresponding documentation (menus, floor plans, etc.) to clarify any aspect of this event.
Please tell us why you believe your company to be unique and worthy of this award. This can include information about consistent and successful sales strategies, trend-forward menu design and development, food presentation, exceptional training programs that stress staff retention, year-over-year growth, heightened publicity.
For Supplier-submitted Product & technological Innovation:
What challenges did you face developing this product? (Examples could include )
Choose at least two of your favorite aspects about this product and talk about them. (Examples could be durability, ease in transport, price point, etc.)
Product photos. Submit up to 5 images that best show your product singly and/or in use. More are better as it provides a full understanding of the product’s scope.
Product documentation. Please provide any corresponding documentation (such as specs, materials) to clarify any aspect.
Please tell us why you believe your company to be unique and worthy of this award. This can include information about consistent and successful sales strategies, brilliant staff, generationally owned business, etc.
Cover photo courtesy: “Belugas & Bows Holiday Catering Showcase” Sodexo at Shedd Aquarium