Catering Corner: Kids' Room

May 22, 2013

Will you have a large amount of children attending your wedding or event? You might consider setting up a kids’ room. Once the party gets started in the main room, invite your younger guests to their own room.  You can set up TVs with movies or a gaming system, have crafts or coloring available, and set out some board games and toys. If you really want to go all out, consider having a sundae buffet just for them! Hiring a professional babysitter to watch the kids and supervise their activities will ensure a fun night for all.  Not only will the parents appreciate you welcoming their children (while giving them a night "off"), the kids will love getting to play with cousins and friends they may not get to see very often. And they don't have to hang out with the grownups!

Catering Corner: This one takes the cake!

May 15, 2013

Want a classy dessert for your wedding but don't love cake? A new idea that we see taking off is the "Cheese Cake" though you won't find these at everywhere. Literally, it is a cake made of cheese. Your cheese cake maker will fashion wheels of different types of cheese to make create a presentation that is barely distinguishable from a traditional wedding cake. It can be garnished with flowers just like a traditional wedding cake, as well as served with accoutrements such as preserves, crackers, or grapes that add to the presentation.

Coq d’Or Invites Whiskey Aficionados to Join New Whiskey Club

April 24, 2013

Coq d’Or invites whiskey fans to join the new Coq d’Or Whiskey Club this May 2013. Interested individuals can complete the initial complimentary registration anytime online at www.thedrakehotel.com/dine/coqdor. Once enrolled, members will receive a membership card entitling them access to quarterly events and featured quarterly whiskies in Coq d’Or. “We know Chicago is home to many whiskey drinkers with sophisticated tastes,” explains Kai Wilson, The Drake Hotel beverage manager. “By starting the Coq d’Or Whiskey Club, we hope to provide everyone with a special opportunity to sample some new whiskies and meet people with similar tastes and interests.” Each quarter, members will receive an update, via email, with information on the quarter’s event, including when it will occur and what the featured whiskey will be. These events, hosted by Coq d’Or, will provide an opportunity for members to taste, learn and ask questions about different types of whiskies. The event program will vary from event to event depending on the featured product. The quarterly email will also update members on the custom tailored whiskey collection for the quarter. These whiskey collections are only available for purchase by current Whiskey Club members when visiting Coq d’Or. These collections will change quarterly with the seasons in mind and will revolve around a common theme. The first collection features a select grouping of rye whiskies including Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey, Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond and Templeton Rye Small Batch. Coq d’Or has had long history and a special connection to whiskey from the very beginning. Opening on Dec. 6, 1933, the day after the repeal of Prohibition, high demand and long lines only allowed time for the serving of 40 cent whiskies. In honor of the opening day of Coq d’Or and the 80th anniversary approaching this December, the Coq d’Or Whiskey Club was born. Coq d’Or Whiskey Club members must be 21 years of age or older. There is no membership fee. Interested whiskey lovers can online at http://www.thedrakehotel.com/dine/coq-dor/.

Catering Corner: Favorable Favors

April 03, 2013

Instead of giving individual favors to each guest, many couples are choosing alternate ways to thank their guests for coming to their wedding.  A donation to a charity of the couple’s choosing has been very popular lately, and is a lovely way to spend the extra cost you would have spent on favors.  If you do choose to give favors, think about items that are meaningful to you as a couple, such as huckleberry jam from your family’s huckleberry bushes or coffee beans from Starbucks where she first caught his eye.  Anything that reminds your guests of you as a couple will be cherished and taken home, rather than discarded by the end of the night.

Catering Corner: The Great Gatsby

March 20, 2013

With spring upon us and summer right around the corner, wedding season is officially in full swing. And what will be inspiring weddings all season? The Great Gatsby! With a new movie inspired by the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald coming out, along with our continued nostalgia for the glitz and glamour of the 1920s, this season will be filled with images, customs, and décor from this vibrant time period. Here are a few ideas:

  • The Champagne Coupe: Whether you fill it with champagne or your signature cocktail (made with gin of course), this retro glassware is the perfect choice for a Gatsby inspired event.
  • Jazz: No 1920s party would have been complete without this classic American art form. Have a jazz trio perform during cocktails and then add a full band to get the dancing started later in the evening.
  • Period Inspired Hors d’Oevres: Nothing made Gatsby’s parties more glitzy than a spread of lavish passed hors d’eouvres. Take your culinary inspiration from era favorites or you choose a more modern take, either way make sure your hors d’eouvres are passed on silver trays with white glove butler service.

Catering Corner: Sweets with a Little Savory

March 13, 2013

Remember, desserts don’t always have to be sweet. As spring approaches, take advantage of fresh herbs and vegetables to add a savory element to your dessert selection. Some ideas include adding a sprig of basil to the top of raspberry cheesecake, making pudding out of white asparagus, or serving avocado ice cream. You may think your guests will scoff, but many enjoy trying something that is new and fresh. Mixing sweet and savory is a great way to create a memorable and beautiful dessert selection!

Catering Corner: The Make-Your-Own Station

March 06, 2013

The “Make-Your-Own” station is great for all kinds of occasions. They provide not only a fun culinary experience, but they also create conversation and excitement among guests. From the “First-Day-of-a-Conference-Ice-Breaking-Reception” to the “I’ve-Known-These-People-All-My-Life Rehearsal Dinner,” creating a “Make-Your-Own” station is sure to delight. Ideas to Try:

  • Pizza Station: This station is ideal for a smaller group as it will require oven time. Venture into more daring ingredients like lamb meatballs or cilantro pesto.
  • Nacho Station: Try having both low-end ingredients and high-end ingredients such as nacho cheese sauce mixed with ground bison. This can also work with French Fries or Tater Tots.
  • Grilled Cheese Station: Mix and match with different cheeses, breads, and vegetarian and non-vegetarian fillers and condiments.
Remember to keep in mind the dress code when planning these stations as they often tend to be messy.

Catering Corner: How do I choose my hors d’oeuvres?

February 27, 2013

When it comes to planning a cocktail party, we often are asked by our guests to advise on what hors d’oeuvres should be served during the cocktail party. Every type of party has different requirements, and therefore a different approach to a menu. Here are some basic tips to help making this decision a little less stressful: Is your event a social event or a corporate event? Basically, who are the attendees and what will they be wearing? When planning a formal event like a wedding, a gala, or a holiday party it is very important to choose hors d’oeuvres that will be easy to eat in one or two bites. Also, hors d’oeuvres served at a formal event should never be greasy or flaky. In contrast, if you are planning a less formal event -such as a corporate networking- there is more leeway for hors d’oeuvres that are less elegant. For instance, a mini pizza or a mini quesadilla can be a nice, hearty, three-bite choice for a less formal event. One thing to remember though, no matter how informal, you never want your attendees getting caught with a mouthful of food in front of the boss. Therefore, plan more seating and tables to accommodate for these types of items. What time of the year is it and what vegetables and fruits are in season? As with all menus, the season is a factor. In the dead of winter, tomatoes and basil on a crostini, while lovely, isn’t the best choice. You may love butternut squash all year round, but avoid it during the spring and summer. Seasonality is something your catering manager would be happy to advise you on. What factor should be considered? While hot hors d’oeuvres vs. cold hors d’oeuvres are a factor, it is a good idea to make decisions based more on variety in texture, richness and flavor. Favorites such as a mini beef wellington or melted brie in a puff pastry are both lovely, but would not recommend serving both due to similarities in texture and richness. Considering hors d’oeuvres with more contrast, such as watermelon with goat cheese and balsamic served along with baby lamb chops, provides guests with more variety. A Final Thought: Formal or informal, winter or spring, everyone, EVERYONE loves Pigs in a Blanket. It defies all laws of menu planning and has attained a special status in the world of hors d’oeuvres. So, unless your guests are 100% vegan, don’t feel bad about serving them.

Catering Corner: “Outside the Books”

February 22, 2013

A wedding item we are seeing less and less of these days is the guest book. Many couples feel the traditional guest book will be set out on the day of the wedding and then unfortunately end up on a shelf for years to come. Why not think outside the “book” and try some of these fun and inventive ideas for a register of your guests that will surely be enjoyed for years to come:

  • A framed poster of a tree; each guest signs a leaf – Any framed picture that somehow commemorates your wedding and is meaningful has a much better chance of making it up on a wall and therefore admired through the years.
  • The continuing popularity of photo booths is the perfect way to commemorate your wedding. Ask the photo booth attendant to make two copies of every picture your guests take - one for the guest to take home and one for you. Imagine going through those pictures 25 years from now!
  • 11 bottles of wine you love and label them 1, 5, 10, 15, etc. and ask your guests to sign the bottles of wine. Then, for each corresponding anniversary, you can open that year’s bottle of wine and remember the guests that help make your wedding day special. Ask a wine specialist to help you choose wine that will age appropriately. And don’t forget to save that special bottle of Champagne for your 50th!
All of these ideas can be used for inspiration and modified for the couple's tastes and personalities. What’s important is that youregister your guests in a way that will be meaningful to you as a couple and helps you to remember their presence at your wedding in the future. The only thing required? DON’T FORGET A PEN!

Expert Corner: Sous Chef Schubert

February 05, 2013
Senior Sous Chef Christina Schubert has the best way to sweeten up your valentine's day. Chocolate has been around for a long time. The first documented appearance was in 1100 BC. Originating in Mexico, Central America and northern South America, now most of the chocolate eaten worldwide is grown in western Africa. Chocolate first expanded to western culture in the 1500s with the Spanish Conquistadors, but the first Swiss chocolate factory didn't show up until 1819. And milk chocolate didn't appear until 1875. Chocolate has been thought of as an aphrodisiac since the Aztecs and the Mayas. Chocolate contains chemical compounds that enhance mood and promote higher serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the hormone that is associated with falling in love. There have been studies that show that melting chocolate on your tongue can cause a similar reaction as passionately kissing, making it a perfect food to express your love. Although September 13 is International Chocolate Day, February 14th has given it a real run for its money. And here is a chocolate recipe to tempt your own sweetie this Valentine's Day. Chocolate Fondue
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup, although you can substitute honey
  • 9 ounces of good dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks (the higher the percentage on the package, the more intense the flavor)
  • Fresh strawberries or your favorite fruit
In a heavy bottom small sauce pan, bring the cream and the corn syrup to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth and glossy. Pour into a warm ceramic bowl and dip to your heart’s content.