Wedding trends for 2017

wedding blog imageWith the wedding season coming closer and closer we are spending more and more time with our wedding couples. We love hearing about all of the elements that they have on their wish list, and even more so we love making this happen. So what do we think is going to be prevalent in 2017 weddings, and what, if you are still planning the final touches, should you ponder on? Here is our helpful guide:

1. Elaborate entrances
It’s long been established that the first impression counts. This is being taken to heart, with olive trees and lantern clusters, archways of blooms or modern calligraphy signs and finished silk died ribbons. A lot of the venues we work in have stunning entrances but this is certainly a lovely way to welcome your guests.

2. Inspiration from above!
Although this poses logistical challenges in some of our venues, there is always a way around it, from floral chandeliers to Edison light bulbs we are keen to make sure that the guests are wowed from the ceiling down.

3. Ice breaking drinks receptions
From food stations to afternoon tea hampers, we are seeing a rise in requests for our menus to play a big part in getting guests chatting. We love combining this with encouraging guests to explore the unique spaces that we are working in. From secret bellini bars to dress-your-own ceviche stations, interactivity is still ever so popular.

4. Organic!
Not necessarily in our ingredients but certainly in our presentation. We are hearing about a multitude of looser tied bouquets and our plates are matching suit. With pretty floral or foraged herb flowers to the colourful purees swiped across our plates, nature’s rainbow is our inspiration.

5. Alternative cakes
We have seen over the years a shying away from the traditional tiered fruit cakes. Our couples are starting to opt for fun alternatives from towers of their favourites Tunnock’s tea cakes, decadent custard filled doughnuts or even one to two pork pies! We love seeing individual choices being made here! It usually means they are devoured more quickly too!

Craft beers; a great London story for your drinks reception

Craft beers blogIn a world where small batch and artisan are heralded as the new en-vogue and yet this of course is not a new trend. It’s been prevalent in our shopping habits for years, from the bricked corridor of Malt Street Market to the everlasting queue outside Monmouth coffee. It’s not just our food bills to be indulged in craft batches however; it’s our beer list too.

By popular demand our beer often expands into London craft ales and lagers to tie in with London-centric events across a range of venues. Logistically these craft bottles are a dream as they avoid the ‘settling’ time needed of kegs.

Here are our top favourites.
1. Camden Town Brewery  our favourite is the Gentlemen’s Wit, based on a traditional Belgian wit (white) beer, they’ve added the bergamot and lemon zest of Earl Grey tea for a well turned out beer that politely packs a punch.

2. Hepcat, by the Gypsy Hill Brewing Company. The Hepcat’s strong line-up of Mosaic, Citra, Equinox and Motueka hops combine to produce an intensely tropical-citrus hit.

3. Beavertown Brewery, 8’ Ball. A big chunk of rye is used to give the beer a spicy earthiness, mashed up with Cara malts to create a rich, bold mouth feel. Masses of dry hops are plied after fermentation to spike a wild blend of tropical, spicy aromas.

4. Crate Brewery’s Lager  A refreshing amber lager, full of character and flavour. They also do a forest fruit sour!

Of course, if you fancy a tester most of these have tap rooms that allow you to whittle away the afternoon sampling. Click here for some great tap room recommendations.

The wonderful thing about serving a craft beer is the story behind it, which really gets through to your guests if you choose to serve in the bottles.

We expect to see lots of requests coming through this summer!

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.