“Oh what a night, late November in 2016…” – that’s how the song goes, isn’t it? No? Well from now on it should, as the catering equipment industry truly had a celebration to remember at the second annual Catering Insight Awards!
More than 200 senior sector representatives made their way to the Underglobe, underneath Shakespeare’s Globe on the banks of the Thames in Central London on Wednesday night for the gala black tie event, which honoured dealers and suppliers which have excelled this year.
Escaping the chill outside, I think it’s safe to say that right from the drinks reception in the Shakespeare exhibition, to descending into the main space which looked like something out of a fairytale – complete with a tree in the middle of the room, everyone was very impressed with the stunning and central location, as well as the delicious three course menu.
But one of the most important aspects was that attendees were able to catch up with their industry friends. So much so in fact, that presenting the awards ceremony on stage, I had to shush the audience several times! I hope that was more of a reflection on how pleased they were to see each other, rather than being bored with Andrew Seymour (Promedia Publishing editorial director and editor of our sister publication, Foodservice Equipment Journal) and I droning on!
The award winners themselves very much deserved their accolades, and the more than 100 senior industry figures who voted, really did choose well. To see all the winners, click here. Congratulations too to all of the finalists, as it was a really close run competition in many categories, and all of the companies deserve a lot of credit that their industry colleagues thought so much of them that they put them forward for nomination. In fact, the voting was so close that we even had a dead heat for the first time, in the Service & Maintenance Provider of the Year category.
I think all attendees very much enjoyed themselves too thanks to the extra touches we added throughout the evening, from singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to iFour Hospitality Design director, Paul Martin, to the fun photo booth set up at the back of the room.
Incidentally, I have seen all of the photo booth pictures and all I can say is: wow! There were some people who haven’t had a hair on their heads for over 30 years getting into the spirit of things with pink curly wigs, an outbreak of monkey mask madness and some very ‘interesting’ poses. If anyone wants any of their own pictures, please drop me a line and I will send them to you – if you can dare face them!
The most poignant moment of the night, however, was when Nick Howe, MD of Court Catering Equipment, was collecting Meiko UK MD Bill Downie’s Lifetime Achievement Award on his behalf. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in having a lump in my throat when Bill’s statement was read out, thanking the many people who helped him during his career and clamoured for him to receive the honour. This was especially touching in the wake of the very sad news of Bill’s wife’s passing. I can only hope the fact that the whole industry thinks so much of him will comfort him at this tragic time.
On a lighter note though, once again the official after-party went down an absolute storm. Those who carried on the celebrations well into the early hours were greeted with a flower garland at the door of the Kanaloa tiki bar, as well as a free drink token to keep them well lubricated. The exclusively-reserved area was packed to the gills, and the dancefloor was kept busy until 3am. In fact, people were enjoying themselves so much that it was a bit of a task to shepherd everyone out at the club’s closing time. I think it’s safe to say that for many people, yesterday was not their most productive working day ever!
The Catering Insight team has already received lots of great feedback about the night, both via email and via an absolute slew of Twitter notifications – our Twitter handle @cateringinsight practically blew up over the past 48 hours. But we are always happy to receive more comments, both praise and criticism, to ensure that we really can tailor this event to you. So please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is something you would like to say about the night: email@example.com
We are even already thinking about the 2017 event, but frankly right now, I don’t know how we are going to top this year’s. If you would like to be involved in next year’s awards straight out of the gate, please contact Mark Harris on 0203 176 4226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.