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Selling the Experience

Have you ever left an event and thought, “Wow, what an incredible experience!”? That feeling is what we, at Hamby Catering & Events, strive to evoke at every corporate, wedding, or social event that we serve. For nearly 40 years, our goal has been to leave no detail unconsidered when it comes to theme, venue, or cuisine; and part of our success has been working as a team with all vendors to tie every piece of an event together. This means we’re not only selling prospects and guests on our award-winning dishes and time treasured recipes, but on the overall event experience as well.

All photos courtesy of Lauren Jonas Photography

The events where we can go ‘all in’ always end up being favorites from guests and are the ones where a lasting impression is made. For example, when the Charleston International Airport had a party revealing its multimillion-dollar renovations, we coupled food and beverage, plus service for an unforgettable experience. We hear compliments still, years later, on how well the event was executed. Think pilot uniforms for staff, food served on airline beverage carts, and in-flight carrier trays. We even had pilot wings!

Fairly recently, we partnered with The Stray Dog Society for its annual Stray Dog Jamboree event. The Society is an alumni group with more than 1,500 members that is loosely affiliated with The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. Hamby Catering & Events has served as the caterer of record for this large-scale event for more than seven years. This event has truly become an opportunity for us to practice what we preach and ‘sell the experience.’

This event has a new theme each year, and we love getting to be creative when incorporating the concept into our menu offerings. This year’s Jamboree was close to Halloween and the theme was a “Wicked Good Time.” Decor included a skeleton mascot with hats, pops of red, and spooky elements at every turn. As a team, we addressed each event detail with the utmost of care and attention, so that everything from themed menu selections, to fonts on menu signage and customized staff uniforms were carefully curated.

We carried the theme into our food station titles with the “Witch’s Cauldron,” a chef-attended chicken bog station, served in a massive paella pan, and “Meat On Your Bones,” a chef-attended short ribs station with creamy mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts with bacon vinaigrette.

We also debuted our “Wicked Bones” sweet and savory pretzel display that included soft and hard pretzels of various sizes and shapes with artisan dipping sauces and toppings. Our pastry chef created special butterscotch pretzel bites that were quite the hit with guests! The specialty cocktail was dubbed “Vampire Kisses,” and was served as samples in test tubes and from an ice luge in the shape of the Citadel mascot—a bulldog. The drink was made with strawberry puree, so it was reminiscent of blood. Creepy, but on theme!

Our staff also dressed in uniforms reminiscent to the event’s skeleton mascot and really got into character. When all was said and done, we received compliments from our client and guests on the fantastic event.

As you approach new business and events, we challenge you to think outside just your culinary creations when you pitch a client. Become invested in their theme, venue space, and vision so that you can sell more than just what’s on the plate, but also your expertise and experience that will leave guests in awe. 

Candice Wigfield

President, Hamby Catering & Events

Candice is a polished, energetic and focused sales and marketing professional. Her educational background, extensive foreign studies, and professional experience have made and continue to make her a key player in every position she has held. Candice began honing her professionalism during her internship at the White House. There she helped implement the President's and First Lady's visits outside the residence. Soon after graduation, she relocated to Greenville where she worked for the Hughes Agency as a Senior Account Executive. She handled a portfolio valuing over $2 million by processing daily operations, managing client relations, and...