Our Top Picks for Alternative Conference Venues in London

Cooks & Partners have just launched their new Day Delegate Packages and Delivery Service Menus and we wanted to help you find some of the best alternative London conference and meeting venues in which to use them.

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Our DDR packages are designed to fit the format of most conference days, and are packed full of great dishes to work to most budgets.  Using a DDR package doesn’t mean your event has to be standard and certainly not your venue.

As a London Caterer we are lucky enough to work in some very exciting venues and here are some unique venue ideas for your next meeting, conference or away day:

Level 21 at The View From The Shard, SE1

thumbnail_level-21-panorama-1The View from The Shard is a truly unique venue for London and is Western Europe’s tallest building. The Shard’s Level 21 is now available to hire for filming and events. With over 19,000 square feet of CAT A office space and floor to ceiling windows providing 360 degree views of London, Level 21 is a fantastic blank canvas for your brand and activity.

Lancaster House, St James’s, SW1

lancaster-house-collageSteeped in history and offering a feeling of grandeur for your event, this stunning high profile venue is a gem in Central London. With capacities up to 250 for conferences and with access to the gardens for the summer months Lancaster House is not to be missed when tasked with a venue search.

Harrow School

harrow-school-collage-conferenceCurrently our Venue of the Moment, Harrow School is much closer than you think to Central London! There is nothing else like this venue. Offering 400 years of history and magnificent views across London its eight unique spaces offer flexibility for your events. Sports facilities and a golf course all add to its charm and make it a perfect venue for away days too.

CNBC Studios, EC4

cnbc-studio-collageEver thought of holding your event in a television studio?  Well here’s a perfect location and opportunity to do so at CNBC Studios.  Ideal for smaller workshops, training days and talks, pitches and branding.  A modern high-tech space you can make the most of with capacity to 100 standing or 40 seated.

Wellington Arch, SW1

wellington-arch-collageDelight your guests by hosting an event at Wellington Arch one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks at Hyde Park Corner.  Offering a contemporary back drop over two floors of event space and a capacity for 80 for networking and 45 for presentations and breakfast meeting.  Doors open directly onto two viewing platforms where guests can enjoy spectacular panoramic views across London, peeking into the Queen’s back garden, across to Big Ben, and Canary Wharf.  All inclusive breakfast packages now available. Contact the Cooks & Partners team on 020 7731 5282 for more information.

The October Gallery

october-gallery-collageSituated in the heart of Bloomsbury, and close to Holborn tube, this 17th Century Grade II listed venue is an oasis of calm. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy vibrant exhibitions comprising artworks from around the world and representing some of the art world’s biggest talents and rising stars. The Gallery and Garden, Theatre and Club Room are unique in their charm and all benefit from natural light and fully integrated AV.  Perfect for presentations, workshops and meetings up to 70 theatre style or 150 standing.  Check out their latest exhibition here.

Stationers Hall and Garden, EC4

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Steeped in history and tradition, the magnificent grade 1 listed Stationers’ Hall offers an impressive and unique venue in the heart of the City of London, just moments from St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Stationers’ Hall consists of four elegant inter-linking rooms, each possessing their own individual charm and character as well as the secluded Stationers’ Garden offering an oasis in the City.  Perfect for a range of business and social events, from breakfast meetings, AGMs and conferences to formal lunches and dinners as well as summer garden receptions.

If you are looking for something more bespoke and fun to serve your guests then our new Autumn/Winter menus may be just the ticket and we have food stalls and DIY food fun to add into the mix too!

For more information and any enquiries please contact the Cooks & Partners team on 020 7731 5282 or info@cooksandpartners.co.uk

Get Creative with Event Theming

Planning an event and not sure what style to go for? Using a theme whether it be about a colour, a topic or season can help create a co-ordinated feel at any event. Hobbies and interests can make a great theme choice and add a really personal touch.

When choosing a theme, try to keep in mind what or who the event is for. If it’s not for you, think about what this person enjoys? Do they have any interesting hobbies? Do they love a particular animal or colour? Or perhaps pay homage to where they are originally from? The latter, is what Kate and Rick did when deciding to use a Purple Asian theme to style The Chelsea Town Hall for a 50th birthday celebration. Playing with lighting, texture and colour they created an Asian extravaganza to delight their guests.

Teamed with authentic Thai food both as canapes and a food station, the hosts used white Ostrich feather plumes and Dahlia flowers to further enhance the theme. The real key to good theming is to incorporate elements within the venue decorations, table centrepieces and food and drink. You don’t have to be bold, the smallest subtle hints can make all the difference.

Here are some photos from past events where creative theming has taken the event to dizzy heights:

Chelsea Town Hall – Purple Asian theme

The Orangery in Holland Park – Sicilian birthday bash

Rugby World Cup at Cooks & Partners HQ

Credit goes to Matt Chung for the photography featured above.

How To Plan A Successful Event

Planning an event and looking for some top tips on how to make it a success? Working closely with a number of clients across an array of industries, we guide them through the event planning mind-field focusing on every element from menu theming to providing posh tents outside should it rain at your summer gathering. There’s a lot to think about and for the novice or even experienced party planner it can be daunting. Every venue is different. Every guest will have a different set of needs and expectations. So how do you keep everyone happy?

Here are our top 3 tips to help you plan a memorable event:

  1. Keep it simple not boring – event catering is very different to restaurant dining. A hot, fluffy, perfectly risen soufflé is fine to do but it’s a bit of a different ball game for 500 guests… Keeping menus simple ensures the quality on large capacity events is still achieved. Cold starters work really well as they can accommodate impromptu speeches while also looking absolutely beautiful! How about our ‘Kent cauliflower panna cotta with Cornish cured lamb, summer leaves and flowers, black olive crumbs, seeded flatbread and olive oil’ anyone?
  2. Make sure it tastes good – use fresh and seasonal ingredients, not only are you doing the planet a favour but they also taste considerably better. Tastings should always be done with your event manager ahead of any large scale event as it gives the opportunity to play around with different flavours and cooking techniques. Our recent addition of a Sous Vide (effectively a water oven) has been a total game changer for many of our meat dishes.
  3. Tweak ‘standard’ menus to fit in with current trends or theming – event food is cool, so keep it current and creative with your own tweaks and touches to fit in with your branding.

Below is a perfect example of theming at its best. We recently covered a Sicilian themed 21st birthday at Holland Park. Check out the gorgeous use of colour in these 3 dishes and how it really conjures up the true Italian spirit from The Med. It really served to evoke memories of home for the guests.

Organise, organise, organise!

Organisation and starting your prep early is the real key to successful event planning. We usually meet with our clients several weeks in advance so we can gain a true understanding of the requirements. This then gives our team an insight into what you want. We can then recommend venues from our list, arrange tours, draft menus, prepare tastings and ensure everything will be at its best for your occasion.

If you want to hear more about our approach to event planning or arrange a tour at any of the venues listed here, please contact the team today on 0207 731 5282 or alternatively email enquiries@cooksandpartners.co.uk.

Credit goes to Matt Chung for the photography featured above.

Summer hosting in the city – your perfect garden venue

Despite the unseasonal rainy weather, it’s summer and most of us are looking for that perfect green space to relax and unwind in after work or on a weekend. We’ve put together our favourite leafy spaces within easy reach by public transport so you can enjoy a few Proseccos or should that be English Sparkling Wines and not have to worry about getting your car home.

  • The October Gallery – a hidden gem in the heart of the city with an old stone courtyard with plenty of charm, space and greenery.
  • The View from The Shard – this year’s annual installation is a majestic garden with colourful flowers and 360° views across the city.
  • Shepheard Churchill Room at Harrow School – a complete haven situated the perfect distance away from the centre of town with a relaxed and calming atmosphere.
  • Eltham Palace – with parakeets flying overhead Eltham Palace offers a truly magical setting.
  • Hedsor House – pristinely maintained garden and grounds in Buckinghamshire with vast trees and grand driveway.
  • Royal Hospital Chelsea – Home to Chelsea Flower Show with a number of beautiful acres of greenery and foliage in West London.
  • Museum of Brands – This quirky and creative museum has recently moved to Notting Hill and has a great hidden garden out at the back.

And don’t forget about the many beautiful parks that make up part of our wonderful city!

  • Battersea Pump House in Battersea Park
  • The Orangery in Holland Park
  • Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath
  • Ranger’s House in Greenwich Park

Which English Sparkling Wine?

If you have been to your local supermarket recently to buy some Processo, you might have been disappointed. Demand for the stuff is far outstripping supply and supermarkets are struggling to get their mits on the UKs must have drink. So what’s the next best alternative if you find yourself at the shops without your fav tipple? Have you ever considered English sparkling wine? Here are a few of our recommendations.

Bluebell Vineyards Blanc de Blancs 2010/11

The original 4ha of Bluebell Vineyards were planted in 2005 on the fringes of the Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. This vibrant Blanc de Blancs uses the estate`s best grapes, slowly matured to capture a fine mousse and crisp citrus palate preceded by aromas of quince, brioche and elderflower.

Grapes: Chardonnay

Hindleap Rose Bluebell Vineyard Estates Sussex 2011

Produced by the traditional method, this elegant pale sparkling rosé has been blended from the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay varieties to capture a crisp fresh fruitiness, lending hints of red berries on the nose and a succulent citrus palate.

Grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay

Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rose Brut 2012

Camel Valley is located near Bodmin, Cornwall. With vineyards planted in 1989, they are one of the top producers of English Sparkling Wine. A lovely rose with characteristic aromas of wild strawberries and raspberries. The palate is very well balanced with fresh notes of summer fruits combined with a pure and refreshing acidity. The mousse is creamy and the red fruit flavours linger on the palate.

Grapes: Pinot Noir

Denbies Whitedowns NV

Denbies, located on the North Downs in Dorking, Surrey, has been producing wine since the 1980’s, with the largest Vineyard area in England (265 acres). This is a rich floral and fresh English fizz with delicate spice on the finish. Rich, yeasty and sophisticated this is a seriously classy wine.

Grapes: Chardonnay, Dornfelder

Want to know more? Give us a call at the office on 0207 731 5282.