Archive for Corporate Catering

Creative Corporate Gathering Ideas

Corporate lunches are often the same expected lunch- sandwiches, a salad, assorted sodas, and cookies.  While many employees and clients may look forward to this mid-day break no matter what is being served, we always like the idea of making any event, big or small, a little more interesting.

Try Something New for Everyday Lunches

If you find your company is ordering the same lunch as often as every few weeks or more, we suggest trying a different ethnic theme each time Taco Barlunch is ordered.  Including fun and inexpensive menus like taco bars, make-your-own-salads, a Cajun themed buffet, or even an easy Italian menu are all good ways to escape the mundane lunch routine.  For corporate clients that use Serendipity Catering often, we have what we call, “Chefs Choice” menus.  These are regular menus designed by our executive chef to keep the food interesting.  We have included everything from Moroccan to South American-inspired menus.  Chef’s choice menus can also satisfy dietary requirements; if you have vegetarian or gluten free employees, the kitchen staff will take this into consideration when designing menus. Ordering regular menus like this can save a lot of brain damage and keep your crowd happy.

 

Get Outside on a Weekday

Luau Beverage Station Spring is around the corner and on some days in Colorado, it feels like it is already here.  If the weather is nice, consider getting out for energizing fresh air and a welcome change of scenery.  Having easy warm weather foods like shrimp kabobs or fun themes like a luau are appreciated and welcome during workdays. When planning larger outside events on weekdays, consider what times are busiest for your employees; if much of your business is done mid-afternoon, have your event at the end of workday so everyone can enjoy the gathering stress-free.  It is always a good idea to insure that the catering company will come to clean up and pick up supplies.  This way, you won’t get employees ducking out early in order to ditch cleaning duties!

 

Weekend Picnics

Weekend company gatherings often include families.  It is always a good idea to have gift Sundae Barbags immediately available for children.  Include items like chalk and bubbles to keep them busy and give adults a little downtime.  In order to keep business talk to a minimum and make spouses feel included, set up games like horseshoes, or potato sack races.  Picking a theme that is age sensitive will also help set the mood.  Good family picnic themes are Wild West BBQ, Tropical Island, pirates, (complete with pirate accents), carnival, 1950’s, or really go with the game idea and have the theme be an Olympic party. For desserts, bring out everybody’s inner-child with a make you own dessert bar, including treats like cupcakes, sundaes, or s’mores.

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Selecting a Venue

Party season is around the corner and many of us are dreaming of holiday parties.  One of the most important parts of party and wedding planning is selecting a venue.  With choices spanning small intimate parties at home to large affairs in a rented spaces, how do you know what kind of venue is right for your party?  We got our team of Serendipity Catering party planning specialists together to ask what they look for when selecting a venue and the right things to keep in mind when planning a big event.

Evergreen Lake House

 

What is the most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a venue?

Kelsey (Service Consultant)- I tend to look for space layout. It is so hard to do a big wedding or event in a small space or one where you have to travel a long ways to get people their food. You need a venue that will provide a good “flow” for the party with enough space for both guests and the caterers to move.

Shauna (Senior Event Coordinator) – Space and floor plan! You don’t want to be separated from any of your guests. Everyone should feel included. 

Diana (Event Coordinator)- Space!  Having ample space for the guest count is important, but you also don’t want there to be too much extra space or you lose the event’s mood.

Boettcher Mansion

 

What is an important question to ask when visiting a venue?

Erin (Service Consultant)- Do they allow outside catering and where is the best place for a catering van to unload and park?  Also, do they supply rentals such as tables, chairs and eating ware?   For a wedding ask about changing areas and if you are going to be outdoors at all ask about a contingency plan!

 

How important is it that your caterer communicates with the venue?

 ShaunaOn a scale of 1-10, it’s a 12!

 

What is your favorite Colorado venue?

Kelsey – Boettcher Mansion is a fabulous example of a great catering venue. It has a full commercial kitchen with fridge, ice machine, grill top, ovens, warmers, commercial size sink, and a ton of prep space.

Shauna – Grant-Humphreys Mansion is a perfect venue for large events.  They have a large kitchen, a gorgeous patio and ceremony space.

Diana – Not necessarily a venue, but I love parties at residences.  It gives you an idea of who the host is and gives that personal touch to the event.

Grant-Humphreys Mansion

 

Serendipity Catering works with several top-notch venues and loves them all for different reasons.  Here are just a few:

We love the open and versatile, urban space that an art gallery can provide, not to mention the cool ever-changing artwork!   We love working Space Gallery and Translations Gallery.

For history and elegance in the city we like Grant Humphreys Mansion.

Close mountain retreats with breathtaking views: Evergreen Lake House, Chief Hosa Lodge or Della Terra are all classic Colorado options.

For wine lovers, consider a vineyard!  We love Balistreri Vineyards.

And, for the best of the city and the outdoors, Denver parks such as Cheesman Park, Washington Park and City Park are great for spring and summer events!

Cheesman Park Wedding Catered by Serendipity

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Labor Day Weekend Parties

It seems that just a few short months ago we were writing about getting ready for summer: BBQ ideas, seasonal summer foods, poolside parties, and warm weather cocktails.  It is hard to believe that this weekend marks the (unofficial) end of summer.  Labor Day weekend is the time to make the most of what the summer has brought us with warm weather, outdoor dining, terrific seasonal fruits and vegetables, and great parties!   Labor Day weekend is about taking it easy, so we put together a few simple ideas for the long weekend’s parties.

Décor

Turn your backyard into a cozy, rustic gathering place. Try recycling old soda and wine bottles and use them as vases.  No need to buy expensive flowers, just use what you have in your garden–flowers, fresh herbs, or vines.  Often times seating outdoors is uncomfortable, so place decorative pillows on lawn chairs or place random quilts on the lawn so your guest may have a place to “picnic.”  Once the sun goes down, light plenty of citronella candles to keep the bugs away and set a nice glow to the party.  Use different shapes and sizes of candle holders to fit the rustic feel. Remember, it is Labor Day weekend so keep the décor simple and relaxed.

 

Activities

Sadly, the warm days are coming to an end which means that many of the leisurely yard games are too.  Set up an area for summer games like bocce ball, badminton, or croquet.  If your crowd is more active, set up a mini tournament – men vs. women or kids vs. adults. This is a great way to get everyone to socialize and people to get to know each other! Keep score and give the winning team small gifts such as a small bag of homemade cookies, seeds for next summers garden, or fun bottle openers. Keep the kids active by having a water balloon toss, potato sack races, or hold a watermelon-eating contest.

Food

Keep the food as easy-going as possible.  Feature summer vegetables and fruits, and keep the BBQ hot for summer staples like burgers and hot dogs.  Set out a “burger/hot dog bar” with a variety of toppings outside of the typical condiments.  In addition to ketchup, mayo, mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato, try green and red salsas, bacon, relishes, different mustards, flavored mayos, Sriracha, BBQ sauces, bell peppers, mushrooms, a number of cheeses–anything from goat cheese to sliced American–pesto, an olive tapanade, hummus….you get the idea!  For side dishes include summer favorite like potato salad, baked beans, and grilled summer veggies like squash.   Desserts should be light and summery: strawberry shortcake, fruit pie, or ice cream topped with fruit.  Or, if you really want to keep it easy, buy a few different types of ice cream bars and popsicles.  Your guests will appreciate the summer nostalgia.

 

Other Ideas!

Epicurious: Top Summer Cocktails

All Recipes: Vegetarian Grilling

Real Simple: 6 Recipes for Homemade Popsicles

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August is National Sandwich Month!

Peanut butter and jelly, bacon lettuce and tomato, ham and Swiss, grilled cheese–even the beloved hamburger–are all classified as sandwiches: two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between (according to Webster’s dictionary).  The possibilities of sandwich combinations are endless.  There is a sandwich to fit anyone’s particular tastes.  Truly anything you’d like between bread, a roll, stuffed in a pita, flat bread… whatever you prefer! The sandwich is a hand-held edible delight, the ideal meal.  In order to celebrate national sandwich month, we discovered the humble sandwich’s beginning and gathered a few new modern day twists on the ever changing, always evolving sandwich.

 

History

While there are several stories recounting the sandwich’s invention, the most popular is of John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.  John was an avid gambler and did not like anything to take him out of his game.  In the 1760’s he was deeply involved in a game at London’s Beef Steak Club, a gentleman’s gaming club held at the Shakespeare Tavern.  He asked the chef to bring him a meal that did not require utensils, so as not to interrupt his game. The chef presented him with meat between two slices of bread and the sandwich was born.  Shortly afterwards his fellow gamblers started asking for “the same order as Sandwich is having.” Unfortunately for the chef (of who there is no known record), John Montagu received the credit and namesake for the culinary creation.

 

Present Day Sandwiches

In the 1900’s sandwiches became popular in America when bakeries started selling pre-sliced bread.  Today sandwiches are a staple in many of our daily diets.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can all come tucked away between two slices of bread.  Aside from the no-brainers there are a few unique sandwiches worth trying or, better yet, experiment to find your signature sandwich.  Who knows, maybe the next new dish will be named after you!

 

Epicurious:  Elvis Presley’s Hot Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

Martha Stewart: Grilled Cheese Recipes

Food.com: Chipotle Sloppy Joes with Crunchy Coleslaw

Real Simple: 12 Surprising Sandwiches

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Serendipity Cooking Classes!

Serendipity Catering offers cooking classes that will inspire, entertain and educate!

We have several different venues to choose from: a beautiful private venue with state of the art cooking equipment in Cherry Hills, our own commercial kitchen right by Coors Field, and we can even come to your home!

Cooking classes are great for baby or wedding showers, small gatherings or even corporate team building.   Classes can be hands-on (ideal for parties of 10) or more demonstration oriented.  We can bring classes to well-equipped in-home kitchens or we invite larger parties to our professional kitchen–either way, it is a fun and unique experience that will leave your guests and co-workers buzzing with food knowledge and great stories.  We recommend about 8 guests per chef to have the ultimate hands-on experience. Classes can be any range of cuisine from American to Asian to classic French and beyond; Serendipity’s culinary knowledge is expansive!

I asked one of the Serendipity chef’s, Chef Drew, for some personal insight on our cooking classes.

What do you like best about teaching cooking classes?

I enjoying answering questions to all levels of cooks.  Home cooks don’t have the chance to be in front of a professional chef often, so it is nice to field home cooks’ questions.

What do you like to teach best?

My favorite food is Thai. However, I am a classically trained French chef.  I like to teach basics, like how to cook vegetables properly; knife cuts… really anything specific a student wants to learn, I can teach!

What do guests find most surprising when you are teaching a cooking class?

How to dice an onion or any vegetable properly is always a surprise. Also how long it takes to make a stock.

Receive a quote for a cooking class here!

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Early Holiday Party Planning

We know it’s difficult to think of snow, hot chocolate and pumpkin pie when temperatures outside are keeping us hot and enjoying the activities of summer, but now is the best time to start thinking about your holiday party.  Whether it is for your business or family holiday party, start to get a few ideas in place to make the event stress-free and fun!

Planning versus Procrastination: give yourself plenty of time, this gives you plenty of options.  Procrastination leaves you with less options and choices that may be more expensive and less ideal.

Guest List

If planning a company party, decide right away if employees, employees and spouses, or employees and families (including children) will be invited.  For a family gathering, decide if you want an intimate party with close family and tight-knit friends or a large party with extended family and a large network of friends.  Discussing the guest list with bosses and other family members early on will help you decide if the event can be held at the office, in a home or if you need a venue.

Venue

Venues are one of the most difficult projects to conquer last minute especially during busy times like the holidays!  It is highly recommended that a venue is secured by early Fall in order to reserve your desired date.  When looking for a venue, look for a place that can hold your guests comfortably.  Envision where tables, food displays and a bar will be set up.  Make sure that the venue has plenty of room for socializing.  Also ask the venue if they provide rentals, such as tables, chairs and linens.  If you are hosting at a home, also consider your guest count, food display and bar.  Many times, rentals are needed for home parties too.  In fact, we highly recommend it — there is nothing like the convenience of seeing all of the dishes, glassware and linens arrive fresh and clean and leave dirty to be handled by someone else.  Just like finding a venue, rental companies can be busy during the holidays so, the sooner you have the rentals reserved the better!

Catering

Popular catering companies sell out December dates quickly. We have some clients that book for the following year right after their party!  It is important to find a catering company that can work with you to achieve your vision.  Share all your ideas with the catering company, this way they can make helpful suggestions while moving along in the planning process. For company parties there are many options from smaller cocktail parties to a large end of the year celebration.

Some catering companies, like Serendipity, have special relationships with rental companies, florists/décor vendors, entertainers, photographers, etc. that will be leveraged to get even more bang for your buck.

For a free holiday party planning checklist, send an email to info@serendipityfood.com with the subject line: Holidays.

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Saving Summer’s Best

Sadly, summer is winding down.  The good news is that many of summer’s best fruits and vegetables come at the end of the season: heirloom tomatoes, corn, summer squash, zucchini, peaches, berries, herbs, and more!   Now, how to keep these culinary beauties year round?  Because, lets face it, that store-bought peach doesn’t taste the same in January.

Pickling

Pickling is the best method to use for preserving summer vegetables.  Squash, zucchini, carrots, cabbage, and peppers all pickle well.  Pickling is not just for cucumbers!  Pickling is great for almost any vegetable.  A popular southern relish, Chow-Chow  is a fabulous way to make use of your green tomatoes, garden peppers, and cabbage.  Try making your own variations with your garden’s bounty!

Preserving 

This method is best used for stone fruits and berries, although it could also be used for making savory items such as red pepper jelly or chutneys.  Preserved jams make great holiday gifts and your winter brunch parties and breakfasts a will be little brighter with summer fruits.

Canning

Ever wanted year-round fresh tomato sauce?  Canning is the route to go!  A basic marinara can be canned and used for a number of dishes!  Soup bases, marinades, pizza sauce, scrambled eggs, polenta, pastas, or mixed with vegetables, marinara can give any dish a bounce.  Use your garden tomatoes and basil to make your recipe a family favorite to last all year!  Also, try canning salsas!

Freezing

Garden herbs are best preserved by freezing.  You can make a variety of pestos: spicy arugula or traditional fresh basil.  Also an Argentinean chimichurri will utilize extra parsley and cilantro and spice up your meat dishes.  Freeze pesto and chimichurri in ice cube trays for easy portioning.

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