Meeting MPI Toronto - November/December 2015 - (Page 11)

THE Jacqueline Hooper FOODIES' JPdL Toronto D DINE AROUND ine arounds are part of every planner's past, and food trends, and their partnerships can make your present and future. dine around event a seamless and fun experience for all involved. We've likely experienced a less than perfect one, either as a planner or an attendee. So how do Let's talk about FOOD! Fancy, avant-garde trends are well and good, but for dine arounds you need to find the sweet spot you plan a successful one, make everyone happy and ensure of blending trends with crowd pleasing favourites. The you're giving your clients the hottest table in town? restaurants can work with you to create specialty You have to ask your client the right questions: * Is it a networking, team building or incentive dinner? * What is the desired outcome - increased sales, boosting team morale or elevating the company's brand? * What do they want to communicate about themselves, the company, and/or the team? * Is it casual, formal, trendy or more traditional? * Is the client a foodie or a wine connoisseur? It helps immensely to ask them what their favourite restaurants are, as this will give you a good indication of what their expectation level is. They know their clients best - take their cue and suggest restaurants that facilitate their needs. Ensure you have selected restaurants with different offerings and cuisine, and let the client decide which group is best suited to each restaurant. Alternatively, you could propose that guests sign up online for their preferred experience. What about group size? In my experience, the smaller the options that will have high impact on value and low impact on budget. Things to consider: * Family style dining is HUGE, and communal tables made for sharing are perfect for a networking or team building dinner. * The restaurant may let you do an a la carte menu if the group is smaller, which customizes the experience even further. * Healthy, vegetarian, and environmentally conscious eating is gaining popularity, so don't assume everyone is a meat and potato eater. * Don't forget a veg/vegan dish that contains protein - the pasta veggie option just doesn't cut it anymore! * Fresh local fare is a must. * Don't insist on the same menu for each city - offer some local specialties, it's a big part of the experience. * Don't forget about dessert! Still very popular are the mini dessert offerings - two or three on each plate or a chef's selection sharing plate. It gives guests an opportunity better with an optimal group size of 10-15 people, but can to try several options without having to choose or eat easily accommodate groups of 40+ in the right restaurant. a whole dessert themselves. Fresh fruits with simple Time it! Guests need to depart and return at approximately the same time. This can be tricky, but not impossible. accompaniments are increasingly popular as well. The wine list can make or break the meal. Don't just Toronto has many great restaurants very close to each other, randomly pick a mid-range wine thinking it will suffice; a lot making transportation and timing much easier. Speaking of of restaurants have an on-staff sommelier or knowledgeable transportation, think of how you want to get the group there. manager. Ask them to come up with some pairings. Beer is Is there budget for luxury mini buses? If not, get creative! also big! Think about a beer tasting menu, or highlight any Remember, the experience starts the second they sign up for local specialty beverages. the dinner, not at the restaurant. Site them! And rely on your Destination Management By keeping these tips in mind you can deliver a dine-around experience that guests will talk about for years to come! Company (DMC). Nothing beats first-hand experience, and they most likely have been to, and/or eaten at each of the restaurant options. It's their job to stay current with the city's restaurants Jacqueline Hooper is a Program Manager at JPdL Toronto and can be reached at | | | MEETING * 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting MPI Toronto - November/December 2015

President’s Message
Editor’s Word
Upcoming Events
Welcome, New Members!
Going Healthy: Trend Not Fad
The Foodies’ Dine Around
Traditional Holiday Menus with a Twist
Member Spotlight: MPI Toronto’s M+IT Hall of Fame Finalists
Destination Spotlight: Québec
Food & Beverage Risk and Liability
Today’s Menu: Culinary Engagement and Team Building
Chapter Speaks
Winery Events and Then Some
Fueling Our Mind and Bodies
Food & Beverage Trends 2016
Advertisers’ Index &

Meeting MPI Toronto - November/December 2015