A Little Organization Goes a Long Way: Sara's first event planning role
Our intern, Sara, played an integral role in organizing the ever-popular Chefs’ Showcase at this year’s Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Here she shares her takeaways on making it a success:
On April 13th, we helped Vancouver Magazine celebrate its 27th Annual Restaurant Awards. Hosts Gloria Macarenko and Stephan Quinn from CBC handed out nearly 50 awards ranging from Restaurant of the Year to Best Food Truck. A panel of 18 judges spent the past year preparing for this event, tasting more than 2,000 dishes all over Vancouver and BC, narrowing their list down to 150 restaurants in 48 categories.
Elettra Communications (and its principals) has been the producer behind the event for 14 years. Their work includes everything from organizing the event set up (alongside the Sheraton Wall Centre, the host venue), to getting key influencers within the community to participate.
The Chefs’ Showcase is an opportunity for all nominated restaurants to share their work with their peers and local influencers. During the first couple weeks of my internship at Elettra, I had the responsibility of planning and executing the Chefs’ Showcase. Before my internship at Elettra, I had never planned an event. I had help organized events but I had never executed one from start to finish. Looking back at the event, there are a couple tips that everyone planning an event, either big or small, needs to know that make your job easier:
1. Details are huge
People say that the details really make an event. Once the big things are booked, the details have to be taken care of. This could be everything from double-checking that the sponsors have everything they need, to making sure the flower arrangements are exactly how the client envisioned them. Having the details thought out before the event ensures you deliver exactly what the client wanted and frees you from worrying about any unexpected hiccups.
Before I called a restaurant to ask them to participate, I found out a little bit about the restaurant. The simple things such as who their Chef and General Manager is and how long they have been open. Just having a quick browse around their website before calling helps to get a feel for the restaurant and how best to approach them.
2. Organization is key
You may have a vision as to what the event should look like, but without having a plan, it makes the vision hard to accomplish. Being able to put together a plan of what the event will look like will make it easier to connect with different vendors and have contract and contact available to you. Having this information will make the weeks running up to the event is less chaotic, and if there are any issues, the information is right there to access.
Starting with just an Excel spreadsheet listing the restaurants who were nominated, I had to craft a system to keep participating restaurants and their information organized. If I received an email or a phone call from a nominated restaurant, I would have to input it right away otherwise I knew it would just get lost or forgotten about. Having this information printed out made the registration of the showcase go more smoothly.
3. Be a problem solver
Things will never go exactly as you planned. If something comes up, being flexible will help you think on your feet and solve problems in a creative way.
With 36 different chefs (and restaurants) with over 46 dishes there will always be some issues. Despite requesting otherwise, of the dishes arrived on site the same time which made matching up the dish with its label challenging. Having critical information printed out before hand allowed me to match the dishes to the information. If something didn’t match up properly, I got creative and figured out ways to match the dish to the restaurant.
A big thank-you to all of the participants in the 2016 Chefs’ Showcase at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. You can check out all of the winners here. From having seen their work up close, I highly recommend you pay them a visit.