NEMICE Offers Lots of Food For Thought The fastest way to win over the minds and hearts of attendees is through their stomachs, according to a group of Boston chefs and caterers at the 1999 New England Meeting Industry Conference & Exposition (NEMICE), held in April at Boston's Hynes Convention Center. About 620 attendees and 335 exhibitors attended NEMICE this yearthe same number as in 1998.
The panel included Edward Gannon, executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston; Kurt Brown, CMP, director of catering at the Boston Marriott Copley Place Hotel; Michael Dearing, general manager of Boston's Chart House Restaurant; and Karin Andos, event planner from Creative Gourmet.
Among their grains of wisdom:
* Make sure your menu meshes with the goals of your event. For instance, an elaborate and elegant dinner would be appropriate for an awards ceremony for top sales staff or a board retreat.
* Give caterers as much information about the event up front to save time in the planning process. Gannon recommended that during tastings, meeting executives take detailed notes and photographs of what they want each dish to look like. That way both sides know what is expected.
* Set up a realistic timeline for an event-and stick to it. A delay of 20 minutes can lead to cold food.
* Serving appetizers and meals by the plate can be classier and cheaper than buffets because people eat more when there's a large spread.
* Final tips: Plan an event around lunch instead of dinner. Let venues negotiate for a deal on wines. Serve foods that are in season. And get exact lists of ingredients, so guests with allergies will know what to avoid. --Lauren Wiley