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 finalists of the 2017 ACE awards. In the next installation of our series, we are looking at C2 Catering, an ACE finalist. Note: Entrance into the 2018 ACE awards competition has now closed. Be sure to attend the Spark Awards Gala at Catersource 2018 in Las Vegas to celebrate the winners!
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma's “Chef's Feast” 2016
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (RFBOK) is the state’s largest private domestic hunger relief organization. This nonprofit provides enough food to feed more than 126,000 Oklahomans each week through a network of nearly 1,300 schools and charitable feeding programs in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. Working hand-in-hand with the RFBOK shows C2 Catering’s sustainable long-term commitment to addressing several community challenges. “This event is very representative of our company for several reasons,” says Younes Rebbaj, director of operations. “Through the annual Chef’s Feast Competition, we are able to cater to an upscale audience of more than a 1,000 people, also demonstrating that we as a catering company are civic-minded and community-engaged. This is also an opportunity to give back to the community.”
Executing an upscale event of the size of the Chef’s Feast comes with a plethora of challenges. Here, Rebbaj outlines a few:
• Shared kitchen area between all participants
• The kitchen area is distant from our stand (booth), which makes it challenging to replenish our food station
Photo courtesy of the caterer
• Very limited space is available for set-up, expediting, and building food items (just an 8'' foot table for food prep and set up)
• It’s a themed event: the 2016 theme was Tailgate food. We had to reinvent food items and food presentations that fit into the event’s theme.
Photo Jim Felder Photography & Design LLC
• Menu planning: staying away from traditional tailgating food such as burgers, hotdogs, baked beans, and cold salads was the goal. Providing high-end cuisine that matches the theme in an innovative way was our priority.
• Entering the competition without knowing what your competition is offering can be challenging! This information is never made public.
Photo courtesy of the caterer
• Competing with well-established restaurants, culinary schools, and large food corporations
• The pressure of winning was higher in 2016 since we already won last year (2015).
• Management was attending Catersource Conference & Tradeshow at the same time the chef’s feast was occurring. We actually received a phone call during this event that we had won a 2016 ACE award!
Competition always makes things better, says Rebbaj. “Competition puts our company side-by-side with high-end restaurants, which allows us to compare our food quality and gauge our culinary skills. Competing against 25 of the best restaurants in the metro, all trying to outdo each other, is extremely exciting. However, our continued education at Catersource gave us a competitive advantage over our peers in the food catering and event production industry.”
Pride of winning: “Another aspect that we appreciate about this event is the pride that winning instills in our team. With not as many awards to be granted to caterers for their daily hard work and dedication, standing on stage and accepting such a trophy is amazing. Recognition is a booster to employee morale and (spoiler alert!) winning Chef’s Feast two consecutive years is such a blessing.
Photo (c)Trawick Images
Marketing: Catering for the Food Bank of Oklahoma gives us the opportunity to showcase our talent in front of an important audience. When we donate our services, we ask for some kind of event advertising as a trade. We also ask to be included on programs, signage, event emails, and social media postings highlighting our services. Catering nonprofit events also means you get to attend what are usually some of the most high profile events in the area. “This is a great chance to have people sample our food without being in a wedding expo or similar environment.”
Moreover, participating in such events reinforces our civic engagement efforts. We participate at the Chefs’ Feast Competition every year because the proceeds help feed chronically hungry children in Oklahoma. Therefore, we feel that we have a moral obligation to participate and support this cause.
Registration for Catersource and the Art of Catering Food is now open. Click here for more information, and here if you want to learn more about the various special events and gatherings during our four days in Las Vegas.