There are evenings in which art and merrymaking come together, in which glamour embraces good taste to produce a glorious and unforgettable experience. We work with a wide variety of clients, each one with his or her own specific identity and requirements; we know that the culinary component is essential for making the event perfect and leaving guests with fond memories. Food is a key element for the success of any event – commonplace food risks making the evening dull, while an extreme or excessively risqué offering could threaten its success, failing to satisfy many people’s tastes and leaving them with queasy recollections.
We recently worked with a client in the world of high fashion who was planning an important 600–guest cocktail party for a vernissage to be held in the capital, in one of the country’s most beautiful architectural treasures. It is crucial with this kind of event to create the right set up, in perfect harmony with the evening: elegant and exquisite but not too invasive, to be matched by a refined culinary selection with that combination of stylishness and playfulness only the fashion world knows how to achieve. At a vernissage, the food must be an almost invisible presence; the spotlight is on the works of art and people participating in the event. The atmosphere should be relaxed and guests should be able to move effortlessly around the room, without having their hands tied up with plates, glasses and silverware, so they can chat and admire the pieces on display. With this in mind, we decided to set up a move-through service, the approach known as a flying cocktail. Our servers, 60 in total so that there were enough of them to serve all the guests with careful attention, moved around offering the drinks and finger food on small trays while guests could approach one of the five buffet tables arranged around the room to watch the bartenders prepare special cocktails, including this year’s runaway hit the Gin and Tonic with rosemary and pink peppercorn, as well as certain food such as the highly inventive, delightful and delicious savory wafer cone with Parmesan cheese-flavored gelato. The buffets also featured several menu options that were more intricate but served in convenient and easy to handle single-serving mini casserole dishes made of white porcelain or glass.
Before developing the menu together with our chef, we always do a careful study of the location. This allows us to assess various menu options with greater precision, taking into account potential issues linked to the specific space in question while at the same time creating a mental image of how we might arrange everything in the most effective possible way. In this case, the location was a 1930s palazzo with an austere but intriguing charm that had been built specifically to house exhibitions and events. We checked out the site two months ahead of time so we could organize everything down to the last detail. The building’s internal rooms were not particularly spacious and could only be reached by somewhat narrow hallways. These details conditioned our plan for positioning the buffet tables: indeed, we opted for short tables, approximately one meter in length, made of crystal, that were easy to move into the hall in preparation for the event but provided an elegant look with the appeal of contemporary design. The transparent crystal allowed us to get creative with the play of light in the hall, creating a set-up that was delicate, almost invisible. The second key consideration on our list is an inspection of the kitchen facilities. We are used to working in all kinds of locations, even ones where we have to build our own facilities from the ground up. Here, setting up a temporary structure outside the building enabled us to prepare all the finger food on the spot, during the event itself. We then transported the food from the kitchen to the hall hosting the vernissage on elegant rectangular silver and black slate trays that perfectly matched the building’s architectural feel. On the basis of what we discovered in our preliminary inspections of the space, we designed an ad-hoc menu with mostly single-serving dishes that the guests could eat while moving freely around the room.
The common thread uniting the entire culinary offering the idea of contemporary cuisine, an approach mixing the best examples of Italian food and drink, justly famous throughout the world, with a selection of “exotic” ingredients, the perfect mix and match for well-traveled guests eager to taste new flavors and food trends. In order to perfectly harmonize our contribution not only with the surrounding space but also with the art work on display, we developed a minimal and design-oriented approach to staging the buffet stations, playing with stands, height differences and mirrors. We selected various materials for the serving trays with an eye to both showing off the evening’s culinary combinations and harmonizing with the décor in the hall: slate trays for the finger food, rectangular mirrors to hold the desserts, to play up their shapes and sizes and, finally, silver trays to arrange the tumblers for the cocktails or stemware for the wine and champagne.
An evening dedicated to grace and elegance, and we contributed in our own little way to making it a resounding success.
We would like to thank the Palazzi&Gas agency, with whom we had a stimulating collaboration, enriched by their high degree of professionalism. Naturally we also thank the client, for having chosen La Fenice and for having offered the guests such wonderful wines (Barolo Dagromis GAJA 2012 and Cervaro from Sala Castello and Sala Antinori 2015) daring, together with us, to create a delightfully original event.