our all-hands "20th year reunion": celebrating the class of 1997

A few years ago, we decided to change up our annual all-staff "orientation" meeting - we realized that we needed to add some FUN to our otherwise informative-but-not-exciting Season kick-off meeting. After all...our favorite of our three core values is MAKE HUGE FUN! So we added themes and activities to our annual meetings, and it was the best thing we could have done.

The first go-round, we changed the entire meeting format to be that of a late-night talk show. We got a lot of laughs, and sure enough, we noticed a lot less glazing-over in people's eyes as we shared tons of information with them. Lesson #1 learned - be funny and don't take ourselves too seriously. Then we added prizes, and sure enough, everyone now was excited to stay until the end of the meeting. Lesson #2 learned - everyone loves to win cool prizes. Next up we added an internal department "trade show", and handed out lots of company-branded SWAG (Stuff We All Get). We even gave them more chances to win the big prizes if they visited ALL of the "booths". Lesson #3 learned - keep them engaged and keep it personal.

The 2017 All-Hands Meeting also marked our company's 20th anniversary. Hard to believe, but our first venture, the restaurant Michael's at the Citadel, opened at the end of September 1997. Back then, none of us even dreamed of the company that M Culinary Concepts is today, with three off-premise catering brands, dozens of exclusive and preferred venues, a business dining division, two wildland firefighting catering mobile kitchens, and a consulting business. We didn't know that we'd be the primary caterer for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the most highly attended tournament on the PGA Tour - and a spectator event like no other! Or the caterer for Barrett-Jackson. Or TrackTown, the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Oregon. Or several years' Fiesta Bowl events, and CFP Championship events here in Arizona and across the U.S. - crazy!!!

We could not be prouder of the team that makes up M Culinary Concepts. We work hard; we play hard; we drive hard. Every day we do our best to live up to our missions to deliver Customized Experiences That Surpass Expectations. And we are guided by our three core values, committed to Inspire Passion in everyone around us, to live and work with Integrity Always, and to always Make Huge Fun!

M Culinary Class of 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen......The Class of 2017. And this is only a few of us - we've got a few hundred more that couldn't be in the photo.

The lovely ladies who greeted everyone arriving at our "reunion" (aka the Annual All-Hands Celebration). We couldn't do it without (back row, L-R) Elaine, Sarah, Kristine, Heather, and (front row, L-R) Alexis, Carol, and Beth - thank you, Ladies!!!

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Our co-founder, Brandon, who today is M Culinary Concepts' CEO & President. He had a LOT of exciting info to share with our team - so much is happening!

So many great teams and great rewards programs here at M Culinary Concepts!!!

Some members of our FOH Service Team checking out Chef Peter's "PLINKO" game - adapted to M Culinary of course!

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PRIZES!!! YES!!! Everyone loves prizes, from small appliances to GoPro cameras to iPads to big-screen TVs.

Mike, our 17-year company veteran (from restaurant employee to Director of Catering Operations!), making huge fun with one of our Culinarians who happened to win the top prize...for the second year in a row!

Make huge funMake huge funMake huge funMake huge funMake huge fun

Sometimes The Smallest Event Has The Most Meaning

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We follow the Special Events blog, checking out what's happening across our industry, keeping up with trends, and looking at some gorgeous photography. Every now and then, we come across a post with real meaning - we're talking real impact. The kind of post that takes you on an emotional journey.

This post, while sad and poignant, left us with a better understanding of what it is to love someone else. To be loved by others. To celebrate love and life even in times of personal tragedy. Especially in times of personal tragedy.

This post by Wedding Planner and Expert Gwen Helbush is worth the read...and the tissues you will need while reading it. We salute Gwen for her unwavering commitment to her clients and her craft. We are proud to be part of an industry with people like Gwen.

http://www.specialevents.com/weddings/wedding-heart-gwen-helbush-her-most-poignant-wedding