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It’s Time to Celebrate

Congratulations to this year’s CATIE Best Catered Event finalists’ visionary work at Catersource + The Special Event 2024

Events have always been experiences. But gone are the days where you could simply set up a buffet or standard dual-plated entrée and spark a wowed reaction from guests. Innovation is at an all-time high in our industry, and in-person events are booming again after the craving for connection soared post-pandemic.

For those reasons, this year’s Catered Arts Through Innovative Excellence (CATIE) Awards felt more noteworthy than ever before. The level of ingenuity, detail, and sheer brilliance felt unmatched. 

We’re honored to share the consummate visions of this year’s finalists for Best Catered Event! Finalists were honored at the 2024 Catersource + The Special Event in February during the annual Awards Ceremony

24 Carrots Catering & Events, “Oh, the Places You’ll Grow” — Finalist

When a venue client came to 24 Carrots Catering & Events to help them celebrate their springtime grand re-opening, they cultivated the ultimate vision based on an intersection of seasonality with Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go.

The concept

Using the “Oh, the Places You’ll Grow” mantra inspired a seamless connection of the client’s new vision, flourishing living décor, a seasonal menu, and a design that incorporated the colors of this season of rebirth. 

The menu

The team wanted the taste of hospitality to start from the moment guests entered the new facility. So, they crafted a “Here’s the Tea” cocktail using Japanese whiskey, pandan, hõjicha milk tea, lemon, and grapefruit. It was specially crafted to complement the figurative spilling of the tea on the venue’s new vision to their guests.

Once guests were sipping on sweet tea, the bright and beautiful bites started flowing. 

The menu was very focused on fresh flavors and entirely new seasonal dishes like honey mushroom tzatziki and favorites like the mini coconut lime grilled cheese with lime-pickled jalapeño. 

They paired passed hors d’oeuvres with interactive, internationally inspired stations that spanned the Mediterranean, Latin America,
and the Philippines. Favorite plates were harissa prawns with charred eggplant and pastrami tacos—bountiful fare overflowing with color, refreshing flavors, and creativity that delighted guests.

The design

Springtime is synonymous with bright, bold colors and lush florals. So, that’s exactly what they used to cultivate a bright, crisp, and intriguing canvas for their client. 

White furniture with wood accents, greenery chandeliers, peach roses with pops of white, pink, and yellow, and rustic metals you’d find in a garden adorned the venue from floor to ceiling.

The execution

After overcoming scheduling challenges with construction delays, the ultimate goal was to make the theme, décor, and cuisine feel seamlessly integrated. Connecting every department internally to ensure that happened allowed the client to start a new chapter with nothing left to do but grow! 

The JDK Group, “Level Up” — Finalist 

As caterers, there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush that comes with a last-minute, high-profile event right as you head into the busy season. This is exactly what The JDK Group experienced for this year’s submission.

The concept

Eight weeks pre-event, The JDK Group was asked to cater an event for one of the world’s leading technology companies. The conference was filled with global C-suite attendees who were used to the world’s finest, most diverse cuisine. 

As such, they aligned with the conference’s theme, “Level Up,” and made it their objective to leave a lasting impression on this worldly team with an extraordinary culinary affair.

The menu

They cultivated gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan courses for the majority of participants, which was a creative challenge, but one that was welcomed and met with fervor. The four-course meal included: 

  • First course: Fresh vegetable noodle salad with an agave sesame vinaigrette
  • Second course: Ravioli melanzane with porcini and truffle ravioli, arugula pesto, caramelized aubergine, stracciatella, cured bresaola, and micro herbs
  • Third course: Sea bass olla podrida with Castilian stew, fried fish skin, edamame, and spicy saffron aioli
  • Fourth course: Wagyu strip steak with fondant potatoes, sous vide jumbo asparagus, onion jus, parsley oil, and celeriac chips
  • Fifth course: Strawberry peach bavarois with limoncello coulis, crushed pistachio, micro flowers, and candy glass garnish

The kicker? These plates were brand-new dishes created for this event to truly wow the client.

The design

They embraced a rustic aesthetic with a collection of wood, moss, café metallic linens, lanterns, and wooden chargers. With this, they tied the company’s brand colors in through minimal floral accents, napkins, etc.

The execution

Several logistical and design meetings took place in preparation for producing such a high-caliber menu and event experience. 

From selecting the perfect china, flatware, and glassware, physically rehearsing the flow of synchronized service with the full-service team, and designing an aesthetic that complemented the technology company’s brand and the audience to the internal marketing team creating custom-designed menu signage and personalized menus—every department in the organization was involved to ensure this event’s execution was flawless. 

The executive chef then added an extra layer of guest engagement by introducing each course and fully describing the details of the culinary components they were about to encounter.

WINNER: Culinary Crafts, “Teach a Man to Fish”

We’re pretty sure the rare few who have dined in a river with water flowing over their toes were a part of this unique adult summer camp event produced by Culinary Crafts. Yes, it’s as compelling and impressive as it sounds, which earned them the winning title for Best Catered Event 2024.

The concept

The Culinary Crafts team was approached to create a culinary retreat for a select group of VIP guests. The event would transport the guests to an epicurean summer camp for grown-ups, where they would enjoy Pol Roger and caviar in the shadow of a mountain, learn fly-tying and casting from experts, fish for trout, lounge by a flowing stream savoring cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, then get their feet wet enjoying a four-course plated the river!

The menu

The menu was inspired by the venue—primal and natural, featuring fresh, local ingredients that were easily prepared on-site. 

The guests started in a barn at the venue, nibbling on a foraged board with charcuterie and fresh herbs and flowers alongside bites like deviled eggs with shaved truffle and smoked trout. This prefaced a trout fishing activity to prepare for the experience and really stay on theme. 

During the fishing experience, the charcuterie station was moved riverside into the bed of a vintage pick-up truck, along with a bar under the trees. Butler-passed pizza was also made in wood-fired ovens right before guests’ eyes. 

The highlight of the day, though, was the dinner in the river. This four-course pairing dinner featured a: 

  • Soup course: Mushroom bisque paired with Old Town Cellars Elusive Chardonnay or Waterbrook Chardonnay
  • First course: Mesquite-grilled trout with beach salsa corn purée, blistered tomatoes, chorizo, and sage paired with Old Town Cellars Perpetual Pinot Noir or Zilch Rosé Bubbles
  • Beef course: Grilled Snake River Farm tomahawk ribeyes, garlic herb butter, coffee flake salt with fried Brussels sprouts, bacon, Fresno chilies, and sesame seeds paired with Old Town Cellars Outlaw Reserve Cabernet or Waterbrook Cabernet
  • Salad course: Rainbow chard, melon, house-made ricotta, granola, vanilla vinaigrette

The evening ended with dessert around the fire pit with cider, a Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes, hot chocolate, or a locally roasted coffee blend. They also offered a little nightcap before the end of the evening featuring leather-aged chocolate Negronis with a local chocolate pairing. 

Complex flavors with simple ingredients made for an unforgettable meal.

The design

The design was elegant but minimal to play up the natural surroundings and great outdoors of this Utah off-the-grid “venue.”  They shared that, “In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, they went to the woods not to escape life, but to live more deeply.” 

They encouraged guests to immerse themselves in nature, turn off gadgets, and indulge in the beauty of the mountains.

The execution

The team realized that serving dinner in a river sounded a bit crazy. But they also realized that with careful planning, heavyweight tables, plenty of fisherman’s wader boots, and preparing guests in the invitation, they could do it and give guests an experience they had surely never had before. 

The team scouted the site in advance to find the spot with the right water depth, shade, and slope of the bank to allow easy access to the river. The venue’s owners generously worked with them in advance to groom the field and bank, clear rocks to form a safe path and test the way the tables and chairs sat in the water. They were able to set lights along the path to the river and strung lights out over the water. 

For power, they needed generators placed close enough to provide light and heat but still out of sight and earshot. 

Leading up to the event, they kept a close eye on weather reports and had backup plans in case of inclement weather. But luckily, they were able to continue on with the original plan, and the prep and ingenuity paid off. The guests were blown away. 

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