ACE Finalist: Forklift Catering, Part 1

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 nominees of the 2017 ACE awards. In the next installation of our series, we are placing a keen eye on Forklift Catering, a finalist in the category of catering in the east region under $2 million.

Late summer wedding

 

This event highlights Forklift's ability to delight the client with a customized, seasonal menu and then successfully execute it for a large off-site event.

 

The first course design, in particular, was representative of the team's ability to collaborate and innovate. From the initial inquiry, the bride had wanted to have a local heirloom tomato and melon bar as one of her stations, which was also presented with assorted salts, infused oils, and Massachusetts mozzarella. The guests get to mix and match to make their own perfect bite. 

 

“The bride loved the station,” said Deborah Menasha, event sales & planning, “but we couldn't figure out how it would fit into the flow of the event with the other stations that the bride's parents wanted. We recommended that they switch it to a plated first course, which would improve the flow while highlighting the bride's favorite items. The sales team went back and forth with the chefs on how to incorporate different aspects of the station and make it look cohesive on the plate. The end result was a fairly laborious design with different cuts of melon and tomatoes elegantly presented to complement the event's vibe.”

The final look. Photo courtesy of the caterer

Pre-set tomato-melon salad. Photo courtesy of the caterer

How the regular tomato-melon bar appears. Photo courtesy of the caterer.

 

In addition to exceeding the client's vision for the menu, Forklift Catering also had the opportunity to feature beautiful, local produce, with a combination that was visually interesting but approachable for wedding guests. “When designing a menu, our team loves to bring lesser known seasonal produce, like the mouse melons, to the forefront,” said Menasha. “This both diversifies the presentation and helps promote what's locally available in our region!”

 

Challenges

During the planning process, the couple's preferences were secondary to that of the parents. “The bride expressed her wishes to us early on, but then continuously felt the need to concede,” said Menasha. “While we certainly appreciate respecting the desires of the paying party, we also love to make the wedding menu a cherished part of the couple's day. In this case, we ultimately felt like we were able to maneuver the menu such that it accomplished both!”

The father of the bride, who hosted the event at their home, was formerly in the auto industry and loved cars. Luckily for Forklift Catering, that meant they were able to work out of a 12-car garage. Between the kitchen setup, plating space, breakdown area, and two cars that were left on the ground, the team filled that space. “The FOB had been asked by his wife to clean out the garage, but was unaware that it was for catering [set up]. He thought it was so he could showcase his cars,” Menasha explained. “He gave a speech inviting guests to go and check the cars out. Many guests got up after the first course and rushed over to the garage to check out the cars, most of which were suspended above the prep space. 

Catering prep was situated under cars. Photo courtesy of the caterer

 

“Dinner stations were almost ready to go out, so it was the most critical time for the kitchen to be focused. The on-site staff did a wonderful job of answering questions about the food coming out, while gently steering the guests back to the tent and recommending they come back later.” 

During breakdown, the staff made a point to consolidate the rentals in a way that allowed the best access the cars and then invited guests to come and view.

Photo courtesy of the caterer

 

Favorite touches

“Every single aspect of presentation is taken into account whether we are sending out passed hors d'oeuvre or setting up a stationary display,” said Menasha. “This wedding's presentation not only exceeded the client's expectations, but ours on the sales team. Not only did the chefs create an absolutely delicious first course that suited the needs of the event, but the fashion that they presented it in was nothing short of art.

Photo courtesy of the caterer

 

“Aside from the gorgeous visuals, we loved this wedding for their menu! It was fun, approachable, and delicious! We worked with the couple to create a menu that focused around their favorite foods, including items like short rib and leek grilled cheese, local East Dennis oysters, grilled sirloin with chimichurri, smoky vegetable mac and cheese, lobster rolls, and even a late-night antipasti platter! The menu allowed their playful personalities to show through while accommodating her parent's more traditional wedding vision.”

Next week, we will look at Forklift Catering’s Family-style Wedding. 

Enter your best catering and events into the ACE awards, how open to accept your entries! Click here for more details.

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Catersource, which includes print and digital content, as well as live education at both Catersource, the Art of Catering Food, and Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit.