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Inside Our New Home, Larkin Hall

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Larkin Hall

More than 30 years ago, we opened up shop on the second floor of a coach house in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood. Today, we are happy to call Larkin Hall our home. Our newly constructed, 80,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility in the West Loop features expanded production, logistics and administrative spaces, as well as various onsite venues for meetings, events and celebrations.

 

Over the years, we’ve catered some of Chicago’s most special occasions, and now we’re honored to host you in our new home. The urban decor with warm wood finishes provide an easily transformable backdrop for any event, whether understated or glamorous. We invite you to come explore these new venue spaces.

Larkin Hall Tasting Room 2 Larkin Hall Tasting Room

Tasting Kitchen + 3 Tasting Rooms

Our fully equipped tasting kitchen is the perfect place to gather for a chef demonstration, intimate celebration, or corporate team-building experience. One, two or all three of the adjacent tasting rooms can be converted into breakout rooms, bars, specialty buffets or seated dinner areas. It’s a flexible space that our Culinary, Sales and Operations staff can convert to meet your needs.

Larkin Hall Bar Larkin Hall Bar 2

Bar + Event Space with Open-Air Patio

The built-in bar and event space can accommodate up to 60 guests for a seated dinner and as many as 100 for cocktails. Choose your favorite microbrew to serve on tap or treat guests to a creative, handcrafted cocktail. Combine all of the above event spaces for a unique mix-and-mingle experience where guests can explore different rooms and spaces to uncover a variety of featured bites, dishes, sweets and spirits.

Conference + Training Center

We’re ready to host your next meeting in our conference and training center. From AV to catered meals, we’ll help ensure your team has all the right tools to take planning and strategizing to the next level. The nearby tasting rooms double as breakout spaces. When your discussions have concluded, why not host a cocktail hour at the bar to celebrate the day’s work or an important milestone?

 

Commissary

The northwest side of Larkin Hall features a commissary with full picture windows and retractable glass doors. The bright room is the perfect spot to inspire productive meetings and brainstorming sessions. The space is flexible and can be arranged to accommodate the group’s needs, from 100 seated to 200 standing.

 

Future Venue: Wine Cellar

While still in the planning and design stage, ideas for the cellar include a large, built-in bar and a series of private dining rooms, each holding 20-30 guests. Collapsible walls accommodate larger groups in the private dining area. The space features a temperature-controlled wine collection with more than 6,000 bottles, viewable behind a glass wall.

 

Future Venue: Rooftop

Also in the planning and design stage, the rooftop venue on the third floor of Larkin Hall will be enclosed in glass on the south and east sides to preserve views of the city skyline. The outdoor space will include a landscaped patio area and green space perfect for any corporate or wedding event.
Situated at the western entrance to the Fulton Market corridor, Larkin Hall is located in one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in Chicago and close to corporate offices, schools, airports, highways, stadiums and is minutes from downtown. Contact us to schedule a visit and start planning your next meeting or celebration!

Should You Get Married on the Most Romantic Day of the Year?

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Valentines Day Wedding

If you’re recently engaged, first of all, congratulations! Secondly, you’re most likely trying to nail down the date for this extremely special day in your life.

As a wedding caterer, we’ve seen how popular the 14th of February is for both proposals and weddings. And we’re curious – is Valentine’s Day an option for your wedding day, or would you never even consider it?

Whichever side you’re currently on in the Valentine’s Day wedding debate, we’ve listed some pros and cons that come with tying the knot on the most romantic day of the year.

Reasons to Get Married on Valentine’s Day (Pros)

  1. Memorable Anniversary Date

It will be ridiculously easy for you and your significant other to always remember your anniversary! It is also the perfect anniversary date for hopeless romantics.

 

  1. Fun Theme Ideas

Don’t settle for generic Valentine’s Day themes such as hearts and cupid. Go with a theme centered around colors – think pink, red, blush, gold, ivory, and champagne colors. These colors are beautiful and would be stunning for a Valentine’s Day themed wedding. Try incorporating these colors in florals and decor, bridesmaid dresses, and groomsman ties and pocket squares.

 

  1. Pretty- and Easy-to-Find Decoration Options

Whichever theme you choose, you’re sure to find a bunch of wonderful décor items for Valentine’s Day in brick-and-mortar and online stores that will work perfectly for your reception decorations, as well as favors. Try keeping it simple by incorporating twinkle lights, floating tea candles, and blush florals.

 

Reasons to Avoid a Valentine’s Day Wedding (Cons)

  1.  Sharing Your Wedding Anniversary

Your wedding anniversary will be shared with everyone else celebrating their love on that day. And because of this, you may not be able to get a reservation at your favorite restaurant – and if you do, it will likely be packed. If the restaurant has seatings at different times, you may not be able to enjoy lingering over your meal.

 

  1.  Needing to Book Way in Advance

Typically, you’ll have to book your wedding venue even further in advance than usual since this holiday is such a popular day for weddings. People often need to book up to two years (or more!) in advance to ensure their wedding date is secured for this day. Yikes!

 

  1. More Expensive Flowers

The cost of flowers for your wedding day will likely be much more expensive than if you had a wedding on a different day. Floral prices are usually higher during this time of year to begin with. This means the prices of your wedding flowers will be inflated as well – and the price difference adds up quickly!

So did this pros and cons list change your opinion, or did it confirm your initial feelings on this subject?

Whether or not you plan to get married on Valentine’s Day,, we’d love to share our catering ideas with you for your special day! Learn more about our wedding catering services and contact us to discuss your wedding details.

Tips for Designing a Successful Corporate Wellness Program

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Corporate Wellness Program

At the beginning of a new year, many individuals are hoping to create a healthier lifestyle by making resolutions to eat better and exercise regularly. Unfortunately, most people give up on these resolutions almost as soon as they get started working on them. But corporate wellness programs, especially those with an emphasis on healthy eating, can serve to help employees stick to their resolutions and make the long-term positive lifestyle changes they desire.

Benefits of Corporate Food Wellness Programs 

Healthy eating initiatives, when coupled with an active lifestyle, have been shown to lead to lessened stress, elevated moods, and reduced risk of heart disease for employees. Food wellness programs at work help employees achieve their personal goals, and can also have a positive impact on employee productivity. These factors, in addition to the cost-effectiveness and ease of implementation of these types of initiatives, make corporate wellness programs beneficial to both employers and employees.

Tips for Designing a Corporate Wellness Program

Below are a few top initiatives that are recommended when designing a corporate wellness program that has healthy eating as the main focus:

  • Organize regular “lunch-n-learn” programs, having speakers come in to discuss topics such as healthy eating habits at work.
  • Provide employees with healthy eating materials and information. For example, the American Heart Association offers a free downloadable Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit. This particular toolkit is full of useful information, including ideas for incorporating healthy food practices into corporate wellness programs.
  • Contact your vendor to substitute unhealthy vending machine items for ones that are lower in sodium and are made with natural sweeteners.
  • Instead of providing pastries and other baked items at meetings, offer more nutritious options like salads, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Encourage a reasonable lunch break so that employees don’t have to rush to eat their lunch. By having more time, employees will be more relaxed and can be more mindful about their lunch selections – they will also have time to actually taste and enjoy their food!

Additional Tips for a Successful Corporate Wellness Program

Below are two best practices that were identified in corporate wellness programs that tended to produce the results desired by both employees and employers.

  1. Practical and Accessible Programs

Successful wellness initiatives are comprehensive, offering a wide variety of practical and easily accessible programs to employees. Some examples include on-site yoga classes, healthy cooking classes, and stress management seminars. 

  1. Health-Conscious Work Environment

Offices with wellness programs that offer healthy vending machine and cafeteria options, as well as make nutritious foods available at meetings, are frequently on the top of the list as being environments that encourage healthy behaviors on a day-to-day basis. These simple measures display that the company values healthy eating and seeks to help employees become more health-conscious overall.

In addition to the information above, read this article at B.Komplete if you want tips for selecting the best corporate wellness program for your company.

How to Pick and Work with a Wedding Caterer

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Catering food for outdoor wedding

Once the blissful chaos of engagement celebrations dies down, the reality of planning your wedding sets in. Seemingly overnight, questions from friends and family morph from, “So, when are you getting engaged?” to “Have you set a date?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then chances are good that you also picked the venue. That’s two checkmarks off your wedding to-do list. Now what? Time to pick a caterer!

 

Wedding Catering Tip:

Your relationship with the caterer will be one of the longest out of all your wedding vendors. Choose someone that you connect with, as you’ll be working with them for the next several months or more.

 

Planner v. No Planner

If you have the budget for a coordinator or planner, he or she will become your new go-to person. If you’re taking more of a DIY approach, your mom, mother-in-law, best friend and maid of honor will surely play important roles. But sometimes it’s helpful to have a seasoned, objective opinion to serve as a sounding board and partner. Enter your caterer. If you’re not working with a wedding coordinator, in many ways the caterer also assumes the role of day-of planner. Here are a few ways your caterer can give you a hand with the planning:

 

  • Ask for a list of preferred vendors. While this might be your first time at the wedding rodeo, your caterer has likely helped with numerous nuptials and worked with a variety of vendors. The caterer’s preferred vendor list is a great starting place, especially if you’re new to the area or the first of friends and family to take the plunge.

 

  • Work through the caterer to book vendors. Create a mood or Pinterest board and share it with your caterer. Together, you can discuss ideas for any number of food- and beverage-related elements, such as cocktail hour, place settings, a dessert table, and late-night snack. Then, your caterer can leverage their contacts to reserve the right items and equipment to create the look and feel that you envision.

 

Wedding Catering Tip:

Blue Plate Sales Director, Missy Wright Scroggins, encourages couples to stay open to possibilities with food and beverage. Use mood and Pinterest boards as a source of inspiration rather than replication. There are lots of ways to use a general concept as a foundation; then incorporate personal touches that best reflect the style of the bride and groom.

 

  • Create an itinerary and day-of schedule. No matter what amount of organizing and planning you do leading up to your wedding, when the day arrives, it will inevitably be a bit chaotic. To minimize stress, work with your wedding caterer to create an itinerary for the rehearsal dinner, day-of, and day-after tasks. Since the majority of the day-of vendors are connected to the food and beverage components, your caterer can help you manage those contacts and oversee their activities.

 

Cocktail Hour-wedding

 

Elevating Food and Beverage

More and more, food and beverage at weddings have evolved from cookie-cutter meals and cash bars to highlights of the celebration. Now, brides and grooms might use the cocktail hour to highlight food from their first date or a special cocktail from their home town. Remember when the standard party favor was a spoonful of butter mints in a tulle bundle with a ribbon? Today, hotel welcome gifts and reception party favors have been upgraded to reflect the couple’s story and style, such as custom cookies, monogrammed wine keys, and samples from breweries and distilleries.

 

Food and Drink Pairings

Food and drink pairings are another fun way to tell your story and delight guests. If the groom’s favorite treat is cookies and milk, you could arrange these on a dessert table with interesting glassware and decorative straws. Or, maybe Mexican food holds special meaning for the two of you. In that case, serve mini al pastor tacos paired with margarita shooters at cocktail hour or for a late-night snack. If you’re from the South, think about a fried chicken and barbecue spread with all the fixings, accompanied by sweet tea and mint juleps.

However you choose to personalize your union with special cocktails and unique bites, your caterer can help you explore and execute these components. Remember to stay open to creative food and beverage ideas. And, if you’ve hired the right caterer, then sit back and let them do their thing!

Mulled Wine & Spiced Holiday Drinks

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Mulled Wine | Blue Plate Catering

Photo Credit: Jameson Fink | https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesonfink/11467829083

The winter season provides a perfect excuse to make some spiced drinks, including mulled wine, at home. Many of the spices popular in holiday baked goods – such as clove, ginger, and nutmeg – also bring fantastic flavor to holiday drinks.

Whether you’re looking for a festive beverage to serve at a holiday gathering, or just want to cozy up with a good book and get warm, the spiced holiday drinks below will do the trick.

 

Mulled Wine

While red wine is wonderful on its own and as an addition to many drinks, one of the best ways to enjoy this wine when the temperatures drop is mulled, as the spiced flavor not only tastes great, but serves to warm you up as well.

 

Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never made mulled wine before. This drink is extremely simple to make, only requiring you to heat red wine with some mulling spices. And you don’t need an expensive bottle of red wine for this drink to taste good. Even better? As the wine steeps with the spices, your house will be filled with a warm and lovely holiday scent!

 

Mulled wine is prepared a bit differently in different countries. For example, in Germany mulled wine is called Glühwein and it is occasionally made with fruit wine. In Scandinavia it’s called Glögg and is typically served with a spiced cookie or cake. And in Quebec, maple syrup and hard liquor are mixed in and it’s called Caribou. No matter how it’s made or what it’s served with, mulled wine is one winter holiday drink you want to be sure to make.

If you need a recipe, take it from us! This mulled wine recipe is perfect to get you started and is one you’re sure to love.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle heavy red wine, like merlot
  • 1 cup rum (optional)
  • 1/42cup sugar (or more), to taste.

 

for mulling spices:

  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 whole nutmegs
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp allspice berries
  • 1 tbsp cloves

 

Directions: 

Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves, and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each, and serve.

 

Other Spiced Holiday Drinks to Try 

In addition to mulled wine, the three spiced holiday drinks below are perfect for holiday celebrations, as well as for treating yourself to a special (and well-deserved) beverage.

 

  1. PDT’s Gingerbread Man Recipe – King’s Ginger, a strong scotch-based ginger liqueur, is used in this cocktail to provide deep flavor, along with molasses, rum, and allspice bitters.

 

  1. Scotch Regency Punch – Cardamom and scotch blend together beautifully to provide a delicious holiday punch. For this drink, you’ll make cardamom simple syrup and mix it with a bottle of blended scotch, fresh lemon, and soda water.

 

  1. Jalisco Pear – Silver tequila, pear liqueur, allspice dram, and lemon combine to create a cocktail you’re sure to want to make again and again.

These holiday drinks are guaranteed to get you into the spirit of the season and make the cold weather much more appealing! Our team at Blue Plate wishes you a joyful holiday season and a cozy winter!