PROJECT TEAM MEMBERS:
WINNER: VIRGINIA TECH
ENTRY: SEASONS OF CHANGE BANQUET
THE BIG IDEA: When Virginia Tech Dining and its Personal Touch Catering arm won the right to cater the school's 2009 Ut Prosim (“That I May Serve”) dinner, it was taking a major gamble. The dinner is not just “upscale,” but a vital part of VT's development strategy, designed to thank major donors and showcase the university. In the past it had always been outsourced to event production companies and private caterers.
But in 2009, it was the in-house dining department, working with the Virginia Tech Special Events office, that developed and executed a theme based on the four seasons (“seasons of change”).
The team transformed VT's Commonwealth Ballroom into an elegant culinary celebration of winter, spring, summer and fall, decorated with symbols of each season and a menu to match. Four seasonally themed stations offered dishes associated with each time of year: Roast Elk in Zinfandel Berry Sauce at the winter station, Salmon Pastrami Sliders at the summer station, and so forth.
The payoff for VT Dining and Personal Touch was not only the high satisfaction expressed by the high-powered guest list and top administrators, but the demonstration to these attendees of the department's capabilities, a strong promotional message geared to attracting future catering business opportunities.