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, Catersource.com has been profiling the winners and finalists of the 2017 ACE awards—now in anticipation of our 2018 competition, now open for a few more weeks (click here to enter).
In the next installation of our series, we are highlighting 2017 ACE finalist Epicurean Group.
Epicurean Imagination Destination
All photos courtesy of the caterer
For Imagination Destination, the Epicurean team dreamt up the concept of creating an entire experience based on global traveling for a worldwide travel company. The team wanted guests to experience a full night on the town in each country—much more than just a plate of food. In total, guests experienced five total countries: USA, Ireland, Japan, Brazil, and Spain. Each course began with a “ticket to taste” which served as a welcoming amuse bouche.
Epicurean focused on tiny details, while creating five individual events complete with their own colors, menu, plates, costumes, complete table set, music, entertainment, and visuals such as centerpieces and streaming videos representing each country.
Between courses, each guest donned a mask to heighten the element of surprise when the next destination country was unveiled.
“We were so fortunate to work with a client and budget that allowed us to think completely out of the box to provide a seamless, one of a kind around the world experience from a single seat,” said Amanda Hutchinson, sales and marketing assistant.
“This was one of the most difficult but one of the most rewarding events we have ever had the opportunity to produce,” said Hutchinson. “The concept we created involved a ton of logistics.” Luckily, the client decided to host in one of Epicurean’s exclusive venues. The DCPA (Denver Center for the Performing Arts) offers a state of the art lighting, sound, and special effects team that allowed the team to push all areas of the event to include the best of the best and to try an entirely new style of service made up of almost all surprising elements.
“This event involved a lot of seamless orchestration—especially considering we had multiple guests with food allergies and sensitivities requiring special meals,” said Hutchinson. While serving a surprise menu to guests is one thing, the blindfolds necessitate a level of trust, knowing that a guest with an allergy would not be served an incorrect dish.
Very little contact was had with the servers, as the food and beverages were placed during each room flip. Each plate was staged table-by-table behind the scenes to ensure properly delivered plates of food and beverage to each guest, as well as the entire new china, glass, cutlery, centerpiece, etc. “We determined we would need a lot of communication with the attendees, despite having little contact with any staff in order to experience the entertainment and ambiance. We decided to have the ‘voice of God’ come over the speakers and act as the pilot, informing guests were they were headed and when they were to place the masks back on,” said Hutchinson.
With a party like this that had so many elements (essentially five individual back-to-back parties in one evening), “it feels best to say the entire party was our favorite element!” said Hutchinson.
Guests began the evening at Colorado’s Denver International Airport, with flight snacks served by costumed Pan Am flight attendants. After a dramatic Kabuki drop, the dining room was exposed, and guests moved into their seats on the ‘plane.’ Each course began with the ‘ticket of taste’—a tiny amuse bouche—which was paired with a fun cocktail from the country they were in, such as a flute of black velvet (Guinness beer and champagne) for Japan, or chilled sake in Japan, served overflowing in its proper wooden vessel, symbolizing abundance.
The clients were all world travelers who truly appreciated the menu items and beverages, Hutchinson said. “They were wowed at every turn with authentic food and flavors prepared accurately and presented artfully.”
The menu represented many different cultures and styles, yet felt cohesive and provided just the right amount of food before guests were dancing under the disco ball in Ibiza. With the entire evening simply unfolding in front of the guests, they never had to ask once for a special request or need. “We were extremely proud when this group of world travelers applauded each course.”
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