NACE ONE Award for Best Catered Off-Premise Event of the Year - Budget Less Than $50,000
At the NACE Experience Conference in Houston, the National Association of Catering and Events presented the NACE ONE Award to M Culinary Concepts' luxury division, M Catering by Michael's, for our Moroccan-inspired event for the Leading Caterers of America (LCA)! A national group of 56 elite catering companies, the LCA hosted its annual three-day Executive Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, in mid-November. Over 120 conference attendees from every major market around the country enjoyed three days in the desert - for many a wonderful relief from the cold November weather in their respective home markets.
The LCA team selected Los Cedros USA as the venue for the second of three off-prem event nights. Modeled after an actual Moroccan citadel, Los Cedros USA is one of two impeccably designed and maintained training facility and stables for the Arabian horses, one of the most stunning breeds in an exclusive community comprised of horse breeders, wealthy owners and Middle Eastern royalty. (The other Los Cedros citadel is in Chile.)
The brand new ballroom (ours was the first event!) featured polished concrete floors, luxurious hand-crafted bespoke furniture and custom window coverings. Guests looked up, though, to view the real stars of the room. Overhead, stunning crystal chandeliers hung from a show stopping hand-carved, hand-painted, and hand-assembled ceiling comprised of interlocking panels that needed not one single nail.
As is the case with many construction projects, we found an unusual and most unexpected issue: the dimmer switches on the three banks of crystal chandeliers did not work. The ballroom would be way too bright for a dinner event. So we did the only thing we could with two hours to go before guest arrival - we got on ladders and unscrewed every little light build in all but the large central chandelier! Our little trick worked, and the room was bathed in a warm glow.
On to dinner! The presentation of pre-set nosh on family-style platters, bowls, and vessels represented a traditional start to meals in Morocco, North Africa, and the Middle East. The beautiful, deep orange of the Braised Carrot & Cumin Soup presented beautifully and aligned perfectly with the vibrant, rich jewel-tones of the Moroccan-inspired linen and centerpiece accents. The use of aromatic spices and herbs such as cumin, cardamom, chai, ginger, and mint triggered taste memories of authentic Moroccan and "Spice Road" cuisine. Inclusion of traditional North African and Mediterranean proteins proved ideal for the theme. Ostrich, shrimp and of course lamb proved big hits with a crowd extremely well-versed in the language of food and global cuisines. Starches, fruits, and vegetables complemented the proteins beautifully, with cous cous, chickpeas, figs, eggplant, and olives enhancing many items and composed dishes.
Immediately after dessert hit the tables, guests were treated to another duo, this time a pair of costumed belly dancers who moved to the songs performed by the musicians. One dancer performed a solo while balancing a scimitar on her head! Following the performance, several guests joined the dancers outside under the moonlight for photos. As guests boarded their buses, they found lovely parting gifts of assorted house-made spiced truffles.
A magical evening in the desert, enjoyed by the fine members of the Leading Caterers of America, celebrated with a WIN at the NACE ONE Awards!
There she is folks, our very own Event Producer Emily - our team and our partners brought to life her elaborate vision. Emily accepted the award on behalf of A Damn Good Team, and rightfully so. She designed and led production of one of the finest events M Catering has executed.