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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
_DSC2680

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.

A Fashionable Evening with Jason Wu for the GREY Dinner Series

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When fashion and food intersect, the result is a harmonic celebration of aesthetic and design.

 

Last month, we had the honor of participating in such an event when we hosted celebrated fashion designer, Jason Wu and an intimate group of his friends in our venue space and new home, Larkin Hall for the fifth installment of his GREY Dinner Series celebrating the fall launch of his GREY collection at Nordstrom.

The GREY Jason Wu Dinner Series is an extension of Jason’s passion for home entertaining and cooking, so it was important to his team that the evening feel intimate and interactive. To capture the essence of a summer evening spent with friends and speak to the celebration of life that is the inspiration behind the GREY collection, we proposed “A Midsummer’s Night Dream with Jason Wu,” playing to both the designed yet whimsical.

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Looking Back at a Creative Outdoor Event with HMR Designs at Hudsonville Dahlia Farm

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HMR_Dahlia-070

It all started with a bride’s quest for dahlias.

 

Which is how we found ourselves on a bus one day last fall with Brittanie Navarro and the team from Blue Plate’s longtime partner and collaborator, HMR Designs. Destination: Hudsonville Dahlia Farm in Michigan for a farm-to-table lunch and flower-picking getaway. Brittanie wanted to host an informal lunch with the wedding planner using the farm as the backdrop, so she reached out to our team for inspiration. A simple menu request soon turned into a fully produced event; when people who cater events co-host events themselves, no opportunity is lost on the chance to create a memorable experience.

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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

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!

Chicago Venue Spotlight: tesori

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Blue Plate is fortunate to continuously partner with numerous fabulous venues that call Chicago home. Chicago has so many varied offerings and, if you’re planning a wedding or other type of celebration, you have a truly marvelous selection to choose from.

The first of our Spotlight Posts highlights the restaurant and private event space, tesori.
tesori chicago venue

Perfect Location and Classy Style
tesori is a modern, Italian-inspired restaurant where the focus is on creating guest experiences with an emphasis on sharing and interacting. Located in the heart of downtown, tesori is walking distance from The Art Institute of Chicago, Grant Park, and The Chicago Theatre. Its prime location, combined with a chic, friendly ambience and wonderfully delicious food, make tesori a perfect place to book an intimate dinner, cocktail reception, or other festive gathering.

Diverse Event Accommodations
tesori hosts various types of private events, for which pre-set menu options are available. However, the culinary team is always happy to design custom menus for any event.

There are several different options for accommodations, depending on your specific needs:

  • A charming glass-walled private dining room seats up to 45 and can hold 75 for a reception. The glass provides an airy, open feel, while wood tables make the space warm and welcoming. If more privacy is desired, there are curtains that can be closed.
  • The main dining room seats up to 180 and can hold 400 for a reception.
  • The lounge seats 60, as well as an additional 12 at the bar, while being able to hold 100 for a reception.
  • In season, there is also a lovely patio area for those who prefer to dine alfresco.

tesori chicagoAdditionally, tesori partners with the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Center to offer special events in the facility’s two distinct private spaces.

Be sure to check tesori out when looking for a place to dine or a fabulous venue for your next event. We’re confident you’ll love it just as much as we do!