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Idea Book: ACE Finalist Chicago Botanical Garden's Sodexo

The Achievement in Catering & Events (ACE) awards honor those who have worked tirelessly to keep their clients thrilled and their companies on the cutting edge. Each year, caterers and event planners from around the globe submit their best work from the past year in hopes of being recognized as the best in the industry. Catersource’s annual awards show, also including the ICA CATIE awards, took place in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace on February 19, 2018.

Each company submitted two events for ACE consideration. Here is a look at the two events that elevated Sodexo Chicago Botanic Garden in the category of finalist Events East over $2 million in revenue.

All photos courtesy of the caterer

ONE: CBG Orchid Show Annual Client Reception

The biggest challenge of the Orchid Show, said Stan Hansen, Senior Marketing Specialist, is that it takes place during a time of year that is not ideal for the Chicago Botanic Garden. Starting in middle of Chicago’s wintery season, February, “means that we are unable to rely on the serenity of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s summer blooms as a décor aide. We overcome this annually by utilizing engaging décor designs that draw upon warm and energetic colors to bring life in to the Garden,” said Hansen.

However, with more than 10,000 in-bloom orchids, this stunning backdrop for a corporate cocktail party was a winner. Kehoe Designs matched the beauty of the Orchid Show with their incredible décor and creative floral arrangements, featuring stark contrasting colors with fuchsia, purple, and pink overlaying clean and crisp white furniture. “Showering the décor were shimmering and flowing light washes that created an engaging environment for our corporate partners,” said Hansen.

The cuisine was featured in engaging display pieces. “We took the ‘no chafer’ motto for this event,” said Hansen, “instead relying on both décor pieces and innovative serving vessels for our food. We also partnered with social media influencer to tag us on Instagram, leading to over 40 engagements from the top event planners in the city.”

Interested in submitting an entry for the 2019 awards season? Entries into ACE’s 2019 award program are now open!

Click here for the latest information on the 2019 conference & tradeshow.

TWO: KMPG Celebration Dinner

The annual KPMG Partner + Managing Directors Celebration Dinner, reception and seated dinner for 300 honored individuals being promoted to partner, as well as those retiring from the firm, and was a celebration of the Botanic Garden’s farm to table approach. The featured locally sourced cuisine and Culinary Landscape’s definitive sustainable approach.

“We worked closely with both our local produce supplier, Midwest Produce, and the Windy City Harvest team to produce a menu that was local and delicious,” said Stan Hansen, Senior Marketing Specialist.

The Windy City Harvest Greens Salad + Soup Shooter Combo featuring Borzynski Farms Baby Beet Carpaccio with mâche, mizuna, spiced walnuts, Sweet Grass Dairy Asher bleu cheese, aged sherry vinaigrette and shaved brioche croute was a guest favorite.

For this event, Culinary Landscape worked hands-on in conjunction with the Chicago Botanic Garden's Windy City Harvest, a program working with at-risk teens and workers whose opportunities for employment have barriers due to involvement with the justice system. The program teaches the participants about the food system and good nutrition, while working as a team, to grow the Garden’s produce, root vegetables, herbs, lettuces and more. 

Once served, all waste and food scraps are composted for our future healthy earth.  A true green event with on-site composting, recycling (even wine corks!) and a great “garden” message.

Culinary Landscape’s farm-to-table approach is the reason KPMG decided to host the event at the Chicago Botanic Garden with Sodexo. 

The event even went as far as highlighting Sodexo’s partnership with Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest on the menu cards.

Registration is now open! Click here for information about Catersource and the Art of Catering Food 2019.

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | 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.