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6 Food Gift Ideas for this Holiday Season

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DIY Holiday Bark

DIY Holiday Bar/Photo: Blue Plate Catering

Holiday gifts can be hard. You know what’s not? Food. That + holiday gifting = the best holiday gift idea ever. This holiday, take a tip from Blue Plate’s culinary and creative team for six food gift ideas to get you through the holiday season.

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How to Throw The Perfect Holiday Bash

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Holiday Party Desserts

With summer parties out the way and the official arrival of fall, for many, it’s holiday party planning time. Although it can be one of the most exciting times of the year, getting there can be a stressor. Myriad questions arise, such as, how do I throw a unique event? Where will it be? What should I serve to satisfy diverse appetites? What should I do for entertainment? Are tacos still the rage? (P.S. Yes, tacos will always be the rage.)

Want to get straight to it? Pick from our already curated holiday options using our Seasons of Celebration menus complete with special cocktail pairings.

 

1. Start Planning Early

Repeat after us: it’s never too early to start planning for your corporate holiday party. And an in-the-know caterer can be the only resource you need when planning your holiday party. From guidance and access to venue selection, help with budgetary considerations, planning around diverse group needs and connecting with other vendors, your caterer can do more than just provide amazing food and beverage. For many of our clients, we become their best friend as we guide them through the process from start to finish.

2. Pick a Venue

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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.

Trend Alert: Drinkable Desserts

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Neapolitan Milkshakes, photo: Blue Plate Catering

Neapolitan Milkshakes, photo: Blue Plate Catering

When you’re dining at a restaurant or enjoying a meal at a special event, do you often find yourself torn between choosing to indulge in a cocktail, after-dinner beverage, or dessert? We can relate. And that’s why we’re excited that drinkable desserts are growing in popularity, with an increasing number of restaurants adding their unique twists on this trend. From variations on the classic milkshake to dessert-inspired cocktails, you’ll see creative offerings of drinkable desserts showing up on many menus.

Why Drinkable Desserts?

Drinkable desserts are not only a tasty treat, but they’re nostalgic as well. Think back when you were a kid and enjoyed an old-fashioned milkshake or a root beer float with your family or friends at your town’s favorite ice cream shop or restaurant. Today’s drinkable desserts bring back that happy, carefree feeling while adding modern styles and flavors to these classic dessert beverages – making them unique and playful.

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In the Kitchen with Blue Plate Catering: Jams

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Photo credit: Blue Plate Catering

Photo: Blue Plate Catering

It’s the refrigerator staple reminiscent of childhood lunches, the token condiment of late-night diners, and the tasty culmination of summertime berry harvests. Whatever you call it — jam, jelly, fruit preserves — the reduction of whole fruit into a spreadable delicacy is the ingredient you didn’t know your life needed until it’s dolloped atop buttermilk pancakes, slathered with peanut butter or spread on toast.

Jam adds natural sweetness to dishes and follows a simple recipe: fresh fruit cooked down with sugar, pectin and acid for consistency if needed. Jams can take savory spins using ingredients such as onion and tomatoes, or fresh herbs, bacon and even peppers. The list is endless.

At Blue Plate, we like to go outside the ordinary with our jams by combining savory with sweet ingredients such as our peach tarragon jam or our strawberry balsamic jam. And we like to think about creative ways to present it. With summer approaching, check out our tips below for incorporating your favorite jam into your next menu or party.

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