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2017's Best Picnics Honored in 2018

2017 CATIE Award "Best Picnic" Nominees and Winners

The Catered Arts Through Innovative Excellence (CATIE) Awards recognized the best of the best that the catering industry had to offer in 2017 during the Catersource Conference and Tradeshow in Las Vegas this March. A number of awards were given out in each competitive category to winning caterers hailing from all around the world.

In honor of summer growing closer every day, we decided to take a closer look at the nominees and winner in the Best Barbeque or Picnic category—their events were truly amazing and are sure to inspire great picnicking in 2018!

Photos courtesy of the caterers and their respective photographers.

Finalist: Catering by Michaels, Inc., "Wild West Family Picnic"

What was most important to planning this incredible Western celebration? "Time, time, time. Oh, and time," said Shannon M. Sherwood, senior sales coordinator for finalist Catering by Michaels, Inc., from Chicago, Illinois.

Catering by Michaels served dishes from the Wild West like peach cobbler, pulled pork, buttermilk biscuits and baked beans. Their guests also enjoyed entertainment like hay rides, a zip line, a caricaturist, bumper boats, lasso instruction, line dance classes and much more.

For Sherwood, it's best to start with a "very clear and concise vision" before paring that idea down to "what we can do, what can be afforded, what may fall away as merely hopeful, and what is necessary."

Lastly, Sherwood offered advice to caterers interested in applying to the CATIE Awards: "The elements that you may have added in a moment can mean as much as the specialty cocktail or the uniforms on staff—be specific!"

Finalist: Partyman Catering, "Yockel Vegan Wedding"

For this picnic-style wedding, the foodie couple gave the particular challenge of creating an entirely vegan menu that was "interesting and impressive," said Joe Yantachka III, owner of Partyman Catering and Rental near Rochester, New York.

"Our favorite part of this event was taking the client’s wish list and developing a custom menu from it," shared Yantachka. He added, "There was a great deal of room for creative freedom and a generous budget to work with," which helped Partyman Catering dream up the show-stopping event.

Guests enjoyed an incredibly wide menu filled with flavorful dishes like a zucchini and squash ribbon tart with a quinoa crust, an heirloom tomato and rainbow beet salad, falafels with numerous handmade toppings and customizable risotto.

Yantachka recommends that caterers interested in the CATIE awards document their events with professional photography and create "custom built displays" for an extra special touch.

Winner: Vicky Crease Catering + Events, "All Summer Long Barefoot Picnic"

In a competitive category full of amazing events, caterers must host a truly groundbreaking event to win. This picnic, held at a lush venue overlooking the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, was "fresh, funky and Instagram-worthy," said Vicky Crease and Genevieve Farry of Vicky Crease Catering + Events.

The event's menu was designed to celebrate "summer, fabulous fashion and gorgeous ladies," said Crease and Farry, and it featured embellished picnic treats with edible florals, exotic fruits and "drunken coconuts" filled with fresh cocktails.

Crease and Farry focused on a fresh menu full of items like chicken burgers with crunchy slaw, lemon and elderflower drizzle loaves and smoked salmon bagels. The event's décor was vibrant, too, featuring bright floral arrangements.

The award winners advise other caterers to "create something that you really believe is innovative, cutting-edge and of excellent quality."

Check out the CATIE Award press release for more information on other winners.

Partyman Catering and Rental, Catering by Michaels and Vicky Crease Catering + Events are proud members of the ICA. To learn more, visit

Interested in the CATIEs or ACE (Achievement in Catering & Events) competition and awards ceremony? Click here for details.  

International Caterers Association

For motivated caterers, International Caterers Association is a resource that provides Education, encourages peer to peer Relationships and Inspires creativity while embracing all segments of the catering industry. For more information, visit