Stanford University’s dining and hospitality teams has catering down to a science. At the 2010 NACUFS national conference, they had the chance to prove it. On July 10, Stanford catered Tapas @ the Tech, a gala closing reception featuring Global Street Food that was held at the San Jose Tech museum. This was the first time in many years that a NACUFS member catered an event for a national conference.
With the Tech museum as the backdrop, guests were free to explore among the museum’s three floors of interactive exhibits involving computers, genetics, earth sciences, virtual design, and more. In between mingling, networking and dining on global street food. Guests were also treated to a continual showing of the IMAX movie, Adventures in Wild California. Adding to the wild vibe, the Silicon Valley Roller Girls, a local roller derby team, kicked off the event by escorting guests to the Tech, posing for photo ops with guests and skating circles around the food booths.
The Stanford Dining team had the additional challenge of waiting for the museum to close at 5 p.m. before being allowed to start setting up for the 500 guests who would be arriving only two hours later. Stanford sent their high-powered culinary team from several of its divisions including Stanford Catering, Schwab Executive Dining and Residential Dining.
“This culinary extravaganza put on by the Stanford Dining and Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries teams was the epitome of our Culture of Excellence in Residential & Dining Enterprises,” says Shirley Everett, Stanford’s senior associate vice provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises and a former NACUFS regional president and conference chair. “We have heard from member attendees that not only did our chefs exceed culinary expectations, but, in effect, the entire team took the event to a new science, fitting the venue.”
“The food was well-displayed and well-prepared,” said Richard Fritz of Murray State University in Kentucky. “Being in the biz, we know how hard it is to do this. And with two hours to set up, that is even more impressive!” Stanford transformed the museum into three distinct settings for serving 28 kinds of global small plates, created with locally sourced ingredients. The Asian station was extravagantly decorated with a life-sized rickshaw, 15-foot tall pagoda and a pair of guardian lion statues. The California farmers market station was comprised of nostalgic and rustic wooden farm stands. The Spice Road station was enhanced by a stack of full-sized wine barrels, amphora vases and Italian sculptures.
Eric Montell, the executive director for Stanford Dining and NACUFS national conference Food and Beverage Co-Chair, said, “This collaboration between Stanford Dining and Stanford Hospitality & Auxilaries was a great opportunity to give back to our fellow industry members. It was wonderful to find the support that Stanford had to cater this event from Shawn LaPean, National Conference Chair, and the NACUFS conference committee.”
Two buffet stations, “A Taste of Asia” and “Flavors of the Spice Road—from Italy to India were on the lower museum level of the Tech.” The Asian station featured house-cured salmon with sambal mayo that was torched a la minute. Other Asian small plates included Singaporean noodles with Morro Bay spot prawns; and octopus and squid laksa. At the Spice Road station, offerings included Marin Sun Farms local, grass-fed lamb kofta pita wraps and Barilla orecchiette with ALBA (agriculture and land based training association) Organics local broccoli rabe and California arbequina olive oil. A souvenir photo station was also on the lower level of the museum.
“Global Foods, California Style” was featured on the second floor of the museum, with a Farmer’s Market buffet station that included roasted Santa Barbara spot prawns, Korean short rib tacos and tri-colored cauliflower spiced with nigella. Those who did not congregate at the stations could still enjoy the small plates being passed by servers throughout the museum. NACUFS National Conference Chair Shawn LaPean from the University of California, Berkeley, said, “Stanford did an amazing job. Stanford Catering is the best.” His wife, Kim, concurred—“It was an A plus, out of the ballpark!”
Michael Gratz, the executive director of Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries, said, “Showcasing some of the signature recipes that Stanford was able to offer at the Tech was a fun way for us to share with our NACUFS colleagues.”
A decadent dessert table featured a large assortment of desserts crafted from local ingredients, including fresh figs with rosewater and honey, lavender crème brulee using Strauss Family Dairy cream, and mini cones of Rick’s Black Raspberry Crunch ice cream from Palo Alto. Karen Nelles from Western Oregon University said, “The espresso chocolate mousse cups [with caramel foam] were to die for!”
Rich Turnbull of Oregon State University said, “I think Stanford Catering is mind-boggling amazing. The food—everything, every bite of food-- has had big flavors and been really special. And the quality of service has been special. I don’t think any company in the U.S. could duplicate it.”