Idea Book: Hamby Catering, ACE Finalist, Catering East Over $2 Million

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 Hamby Catering in the finalist category of Catering East Over $2 million in revenue.

Photos courtesy of the caterer

ONE: Volvo Car Open

Hamby Catering recently completed its third year as the official tournament caterer for the Volvo Car Open, the largest WTA tennis tournament in North America. Over the nine-day event, the company provides catered food and beverage options for more than 100 international media members, 120 world-class athletes plus their coaches and trainers, thousands of VIPs and boxholders, and more than 90,000 attendees. “We also cater two luncheons during the week, in a sky suite, as well as the official player party, which is held offsite at the South Carolina Aquarium,” said Candice Wigfield, president of Hamby Catering.

This event not only exercises our culinary talents, but also our management and operational skills. We build a temporary, full-functioning kitchen to execute the large quantities of meals and have to time service perfectly,” says Wigfield. The unpredictable nature of the tennis game (player injuries, matches that run long, pauses in action for rain) means the staff needs to be “exceptionally nimble” to serve in-between sessions, prepare for rushes, and try to the best of their abilities, to predict the future. “We have to be strategic with where and how we’re placing staff, preparing food, and creating menus,” says Wigfield. “We spend months prior to the event planning, so that we can allocate resources effectively when meal prepping, budgeting, and staffing. It is truly a logistic spider web to ensure that everyone on-site has well-prepared and hot food.”

Since signing on to cater the tournament in 2015, Hamby has grown its role each year, taking on more responsibilities, additional catering opportunities and becoming more of a strategic partner, than a vendor, for the tournament.

Open concessions for 90,000 visitors are just one hurdle for Hamby Catering. Candice Wigfield, president, is shown displaying the doughnuts

The “Doubles & Bubbles” Ladies Day lunch included (shown) cheesecake mousse with raspberry purée

The player dining area

A station from the player party (clearly, it's delicious!)

The tournament’s Sky Suite

Interested in submitting an entry for the 2019 awards season? Stay tuned for details on the 2019 award program, opening in Q3. Click here for the latest information on the 2019 conference & tradeshow.

TWO: Stray Dog Jamboree

Hamby may be well-versed in executing large-scale events, but one of the things that the company brings to the proverbial table is the ability to bring a boutique experience to massive events. The Stray Dog Jamboree is the annual event for the Stray Dog Society, a membership-based group that is loosely affiliated with Citadel Military College in Charleston, South Carolina. Hamby has been catering this event for the past seven years.

One of the biggest challenges involves allocated setup time. Because the venue is open to the public until 5:00 p.m., the set up (staging, lighting, AV, décor, food prep) cannot begin in earnest until close of business. “And we have to be ready to go at seven o’clock, when the event begins, so it is essential that everything is labeled andpacked strategically in our fleet vehicles,” says Hamby President Candice Wigfield.

Because this year’s event was close to Halloween, the theme was “Wicked Good Time,” complete with a skeleton mascot and pops of red. Take a look:

Traditional chicken bog (GF) was cooked onsite in oversized paella pans incorporating dry ice and smoke. Included in the paella was seasoned pulled chicken, housemade smoked Kielbasa, Vidalia onions, peppers, and Carolina rice, served with a trio of hot sauce

Stray dog cocktail display with ice sculpture

Petite German-style soft pretzel display with salted caramel, chocolate bacon, strawberry sauce and cinnamon sugar accompaniment

Cavatappi noodles with truffled fontina cheese and Maine lobster chunks, served with crispy bacon, scallions, and herbed bread crumbs

Hamby’s Taste of the Sea display

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 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.