While it’s hard to believe that 2022 is here, International Caterers Association members across the globe are gearing up for another year of incredibly creative events. One of the trends that emerged from the pandemic was smaller events, dubbed “micro events.” And they became so beloved by so many that many ICA members think they’re here to stay for the long run. One of the perks of micro events is that a client can spend their budget a little more lavishly than they would for a large, over-the-top soiree, as they have fewer guests but a similar budget in many cases. Jonathon Jennings, executive VP and COO for Connecticut Wedding Group, recently shared, “Our design and decor teams are more engaged than ever before as people are asking, ‘What else can we do? How can we make this not just the wedding we envisioned but the best wedding ever? How can we surprise and delight our guests? How can we make them walk into this space and say, “Wow, this is incredible”’?”
So, in that spirit, let these 2021 CATIE Best Micro Event Finalists serve as some inspiration to get those creative juices flowing!
Bun in the Oven Sidewalk Baby Shower
This spirited shower took “bun in the oven” literally and figuratively with a playful, colorful and socially distant drive-by shower! The menu featured a lineup of gourmet hotdogs for those who chose to participate in the outdoor fete, as well as “She’s Going to POPsicles” and to-go bags for those who didn’t stop, but wanted a snack to enjoy as well. They utilized bright pink, white and orange balloons for both décor and six-feet-distance markers to make it all feel more fun and festive while adhering to guidelines in place at the time.
Making the best out of what they had, this special couple was able to shower their new bundle of joy with love and those closest to them—which many weren’t able to do in 2020!
Project Launch Celebration
Gathering high-profile investors is always a tricky situation. But add the restrictions of a pandemic, and you really have to get creative! The project launch was centered around a love for the outdoors, connection to nature and surf culture, which the caterers then took and infused into both the design and menu. Guests enjoyed a sustainably sourced raw bar station protected by sneeze guards that were creatively transformed into a menu display for aesthetics, mini Beyond burgers to focus on the healthy vibe as well as mini fish tacos presented on lime holsters—everything was presented on eco-friendly service items, too.
The brand values were impeccably embodied in every facet of this event, which is so integral when planning corporate launches!
A “thank you” for donors paired with an unveiling of exhibits they donated to build, the Let’s Play event was centered around making a meal for 40 an intimate experience, not simply a meal. Each course was an ode to the exhibits designed. The first was a horseradish foam puffed rice cracker displayed on a structural spoon for the engineering exhibit. For the second, the art exhibit, they designed a plate that was a work of art: a smoked edamame salad with purple kale, herbed goat cheese, candied orange peel, banana bread croutons and blood orange vinaigrette for pops of color all over the plate. Then, the Let’s Play exhibit inspired a more interactive dish where guests were able to squeeze a basil oil pipette over their sablefish with Thai curry. And that was just the beginning.
The imagination in every dish was truly inspired and well-received by every donor in attendance!
(WINNER) "Surprise Us" Wedding Celebration
A lot of weddings were postponed and canceled in 2020 and early 2021, but this “Surprise Us” wedding celebration decided the show must go on. The couple decided that after so much unknown and postponing and changing their plans, they wanted a different kind of excitement. They asked the caterer to completely surprise them with the menu! Talk about creative liberty. And their inspired choices didn’t disappoint. The chef and event coordinator worked together to design an entirely gluten-free eight-course dinner for the small guest list to serve as the entertainment for the evening, as traditional wedding festivities were off-limits due to the pandemic.
Guests enjoyed cocktail pairings with their hors d’oeuvres, which included a lemon jalapeno scallop with a pisco sour or strawberry basil homemade soda, petite crab cakes with an Aperol spritz or ginger lemon kombucha, and maple bourbon-glazed pork belly with a bourbon Manhattan or orange rosemary cream homemade soda. Then, the main event: each course came with a clue that hinted towards what it may be. For example, the first course had the clue, “Because no great story started with a salad,” and they were served an artisan cheese sampler on a custom wooden board with the couple’s names and wedding date. Clue three shared, “A cloud of smoke will reveal the next indulgence,” which was presented on a golden painted duck feather. The course was a cherry wood smoked duck confit served in a cherrywood smoked glass dome. Did we mention each course also had a wine or mocktail pairing?
The presentation was impeccable, the creativity was unmatched, and every guest walked away feeling like they just experienced a Michelin-star meal.
A Night in Tuscany - At Home
After canceling their 25th wedding anniversary celebration in Tuscany due to the pandemic, caterers brought Tuscany to this adoring couple’s backyard. Using the client’s favorite book and movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, as the inspiration, the chef took to the Frances Mayes cookbook for inspiration.
They created a five-course Tuscan-inspired meal that delighted the family in every way. From peat agnolotti with gorgonzola cream sauce and toasted black walnuts to Brodetto di Pesce with sea scallops, littleneck clams, mussels, calamari, snapper and shrimp stewed with tomatoes and white wine, everything was devoured. They also came up with fun cocktails like a Limoncello Gin Collins. Plates were served on custom blue and white ceramic dishes under an arbor decorated with lights for a rustic Italian restaurant vibe. It may not have been Italy, but it was absolutely the next best thing!
Mark Your Calendars for Catersource to Find Out the Winners!
A whole lot of inspired ideas come out of the CATIE award submissions each and every year, sparking ideas throughout the industry. This year’s CATIE awards will be presented LIVE at Catersource, which is May 2–5, 2022 in Anaheim, CA, hosted at the Anaheim Convention Center. After a year of celebrating apart, we can’t wait to join together again to celebrate the accomplishments of our resilient industry. Learn more about Catersource here and mark your calendars!
For more information on how to join the ICA and to be notified of future catering industry webinars, events and education opportunities, visit internationalcaterers.org.