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10 Ways to Use a Caterer (That’s Not for a Wedding)

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Weddings typically take the main stage when thinking about collaborating with a caterer, but the many ways to work with one span from the smallest, intimate gathering to large-scale, city-wide events; if there’s food involved, rest assured, a good caterer can do it. “Outside of food, our caterer can always direct you with budgetary concerns, dealing with groups, wording on invitations, connecting with other vendors, event budgets, flow, menus, etiquette…it’s what we do,” says Senior Sales Consultant, Rachel Razowsky. Large or small and anything in between, we can do it all. Read more below on 10 Ways to Use a Caterer (That’s Not for a Wedding).

1. Corporate Events

Caterers in Chicago
Caterers in Chicago

2016 Relativity Fest at The Field Museum of Natural History; Photo Credit: Blue Plate Catering

Our capacity for large-scale events makes us a go-to for the many corporate events throughout Chicagoland. Last year, Blue Plate helped kCura, recently rebranded as Relativity, celebrate its annual Relativity Fest conference with a networking bash at The Field Museum in collaboration with long-time, décor partner HMR Designs. This year, we helped Relativity roll out the company’s rebrand at their Summer Jam employee outing at Northerly Island with a special branded donut wall.

 

2. Award Parties/Galas

Chicago Innovation Awards
Chicago Innovation Awards

2016 Chicago Innovation Un-Gala at Morgan Manufacturing; Photo credit: Sean Su of SpotMyPhotos

Outside of great food and exceptional service, a caterer can also be a terrific resource for elevating an event theme. For the 2016 Chicago Innovation Un-Gala honoring celebrity chef Rick Bayless, our team took inspiration from the theme of reinvention and Bayless’ culinary contributions to Mexican cuisine. We created a unique, 3-course menu using signature ingredients that embody Bayless’ culinary perspective and style. Dishes like Sweet Corn Polenta Ravioli and Sweet Tamale wove a delightful Mexican-themed, thread and provided a visual stunner for quests.

 

3. Holiday Parties

Holiday Party Planning Ideas
Holiday Party Planning Ideas

Right: 2016 Crate & Barrel Holiday Party at Venue One North Shore, Photo Credit: Collin Pierson Photography; Left: Neopolitan Milkshakes; Photo Credit Blue Plate Catering

Holiday parties, whether social or corporate, are the perfect time to kick back and celebrate with family, friends and co-workers. And, the Blue Plate treatment can make it THE party of the year for your circle of friends or organization. With exclusive access to more than 85 venues around Chicago, including this year’s premiere SNL Exhibit at Museum of Broadcast Communications, and custom-created menus, our event planning team can take the guesswork out of throwing a holiday bash.

4. Social Gatherings

Larkin Hall, Blue Plate Catering
Larkin Hall, Blue Plate Catering

Intimate Birthday Party at Larkin Hall, new home of Blue Plate Catering, Photo Credit: Juancho SC Photography

Event the most intimate events can leave a lasting impression when set in the right space with the right details. Our new home, Larkin Hall in the West Loop Fulton Market District is the perfect venue for throwing a stellar birthday party, celebrating a wedding anniversary, or hosting an employee happy hour, all with a view of downtown from our second-floor terrace. Read more about our available venue spaces and what’s coming down the road.

 

5. Delivery/Business Meetings

lunch delivery in Chicago
lunch delivery in Chicago

Right: NeoCon 2017 at Merchandise Mart; Photo Credit: Blue Plate Catering; Left: HMR and Blue Plate Catering at Dahlia Farm; Photo Credit: Kent Drake

Did you know our award-winning catering is also available via delivery with our DIRECT from Blue Plate program. Imagine lunch meetings with specially packaged boxed lunches, ready-made buffets, morning presentations with fresh pastries, coffee and hand-held sandwiches or specialty snack packages for an afternoon refuel. Not only does DIRECT give employees something to talk about, it eliminates the hassle of focusing on food when you need to focus on other things. A dedicated customer and delivery team can guide you through creating a seamless drop-off program complete with all disposables that fits any of your in-office needs. 

 

6. Boats/Outdoor Events

Catering in Chicago
Catering in Chicago

Left: HMR and Blue Plate Catering at Dahlia Farm; Photo Credit: Kent Drake Photography; Right: Ft. Dearborn; Photo Credit: Chicagoline Cruises

Our chefs don’t need a professional kitchen to bring your event to life (we have magic tricks!). If you can dream it, we can do it. From classic farm-to-table events, to seafood-inspired Low Country Boils, to a summer boat cruise down Lake Michigan or the Chicago River replete with fancy hor d’oeurves and Champagne, the outdoors offer a creative way to engage guests without the confines of four walls. Passed hors d’oeuvres and Champagne are a big hit on boats as well as cheese and charcuterie platters, giving an event the “cocktail/fancy” feel without the fancy budget.

7. Chef Collaborations

Guests attend Dinner en Blanc, a communal picnic in which attendees wear all white, in Chicago, IL on Thursday August 24, 2017. Photographer: Christopher Dilts / Sipa USA
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Left: Diner en Blanc 2017 in collaboration with Chef Cleetus Friedman at Theater on the Lake; Right:  2017 Mastercard Priceless Dinner with James Beard Guest Chef Sarah Grueneberg at Symphony Center.

Throughout the year, we get the honor to collaborate with many of the city’s known chefs on special menus and occasions including working side-by-side with James Beard award-winning chef, Sarah Grueneberg, for a special MasterCard event at Symphony Center this summer and Cleetus Friedman for the 2017 Dîner en Blanc at Theater on the Lake.

 

8. City-Wide Events

Chicago Marathon
Chicago Marathon

2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon; Photo Credit: Tristan Zeier

Feeding a city takes a lot of resources and time, and our involvement as an exclusive caterer for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for more than 25 years is something we get excited about every fall. Last year we fed almost 4,000 guests our award-winning catering, and this year we anticipate more for the 40th anniversary.

9. Product Launches

Chicago Woman Magazine
Chicago Woman Magazine

Chicago Woman Magazine September/October 2017 Issue Launch; Photo Credit: Blue Plate Catering

Using a caterer for a brand or product launch is a great way to create buzz and excitement for your company. Last month, we hosted more than 100 of Chicago Woman magazine’s friends and network in our Terrace Room at Larkin Hall for the launch of their September/October fall issue and their second-year anniversary. Our space lends itself to various action stations and passed hors d’oeuvres, and our built-in bar makes it easy for in-house mixologist, Lov Carpenter, to shake up crafty cocktails.

 

10. Customized Menus

Caterers in Chicago
Caterers in Chicago

Photo Credit: Blue Plate Catering

Customization isn’t usually equated with catering but it’s one of the biggest benefits you get when working with Blue Plate. Whether it’s a special themed event to match your specific tastes, recreating your grandma’s pie recipe for 100 people, or designing a whole menu for a group with special dietary restrictions, our talented culinary team can literally do anything.

 

Contact our sales concierge team to talk about your special event and foodservice needs.

Impress Your Employees with These Employee Appreciation Day Event Themes

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Employee Appreciation Event

Employee Appreciation Day on March 3 will be here before you know it! Do you already have an employee recognition event planned, or are you still deciding how to show your employees that you appreciate them?

Either way, below you’ll find some inspiration and fun ideas for Employee Appreciation Day.

  1. Organize an Office Olympics

Create cross-departmental teams and encourage some friendly competition by having teams compete against each other in a few games. You can even give away gold, silver, and bronze medals for each event! This will give employees the opportunity to get to know colleagues that they may not interact with much in their day-to-day roles.

Need some Office Olympic game ideas? Check out this post and this one and this one.

  1. Company Dessert Buffet

If you’ve attended a wedding or other social event recently, you may have experienced a popular trend in event planning – the dessert buffet. A dessert buffet gives guests a wonderful (both in beauty and taste) selection of various desserts to choose from.


Bring this sweet trend to your office on Employee Appreciation Day as a way to treat your employees and thank them for all of their hard work. Have fun and create a dessert buffet in company colors and offer an appealing array of desserts – from cupcakes and candy, to cake and ice cream.

  1. Dance Party

Convert your office (or one of the meeting rooms) into a dance floor and play fun dance music from different decades – create a playlist beforehand so you don’t have to play DJ the entire time!

  1. Superhero Day

A superhero theme ties in wonderfully to the meaning of Employee Appreciation Day. Have employees dress up as their favorite superheroes and let each employee know how they have helped to “save the day” at the office.

Have fun creating a thematic Employee Appreciation Day by gifting employees with things that will “save their day.” Some great ideas include gift cards to grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

We hope you’re inspired to execute one of these themes or come up with your own. Once you pinpoint your theme , don’t forget about feeding your employees! Contact us to discuss catering options for your Chicago office. We have a few favorites to share or we can work with you to create a customized catering menu for your employee celebration.

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.