When Surrey Wildlife Trust asked us to provide the catering for 110 guests at the Chairman’s Annual Reception we couldn’t wait to get started!
The venue was Nower Wood Educational Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Leatherhead, the Trust’s flagship centre. It would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate its recent opening and showcase the fantastic facilities to local dignitaries, supporters and volunteers.
The Trust gave us only a few parameters in which to work. As an organisation that is very conscious of its carbon footprint, we were asked use local produce as much as possible – music to our ears as we always aim to source ingredients locally. More unusually, SWT would supply their own meat, and marshmallows had to be on the menu! Other than the requirement for all items to be easy for guests to eat whilst chatting and circulating, we were free to get creative.
The centre is set in 80 acres of beautiful and ancient oak woodland, so we took inspiration from the environment itself and based the menu on a woodland theme. We prepared a tempting selection of savoury items – smoked salmon, wasabi and cream cheese roulades, halloumi, pepper and courgette skewers, fig tartlets with Norbury Blue cheese, all of which were served cold, and two meat choices served warm, mini Beltie burgers and honey and sesame glazed cocktail sausages.
Surrey Wildlife Trust has its own herd of Belted Galloway cows. They were introduced to the reserves in 2007 as a really effective way of looking after the land by grazing. Needless to say, the meat produced from naturally reared animals is the very best quality and full of flavour. We were delighted to have it on the menu and used the meat to create mini Beltie burgers, small enough to be dainty and big enough to provide a satisfying taste of that delicious beef.
We created a dessert station, which included a tree of homemade candy floss, chocolate-covered strawberries and homemade marshmallows. And the reason behind the marshmallows? Guests were invited to toast their own over an open fire in the woods, a perfect way for everyone to feel connected to the surroundings. As well as providing a little fun, our marshmallows proved a melt-in-the-mouth success.
How food is presented contributes so much to the sense of anticipation and excitement to try whatever is on offer. Food appeals to all the senses and providing a visual feast for guests’ eyes is the all-important first step towards the final satisfaction of taste. Working to our woodland theme, we used a natural colour palette of greens and browns, serving and presenting the food on an array of wicker baskets, wooden boards and beds of moss for a rustic, yet still sophisticated and stylish, look. Subtle propping, such as delicate butterflies, created a further link to the Trust and its conservation work.
There is nothing more satisfying than to receive kind words after an event. Here’s what our client said:
“You really created the WOW factor with your creativity and fabulous tasting food. Thank you so much for caring and putting in so much effort. I absolutely loved the wildlife and nature themed serving ideas. And to top it all off, your team were ALL so lovely, professional and friendly. The service you gave our guests was exceptional. I very much look forward to working with you all again.”
What fantastic feedback! Whilst catering is our job, it’s a profession infused with care and passion, so every event we work on becomes a very personal experience for us. Corny as it may sound, knowing that what we delivered gave pleasure to so many people really is the greatest reward for caterers.
If you’re planning a special event and need a caterer, why not get in touch – we’d love to have a chat!