In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?
The Truth is out there…so we’re told.
In Episode 10, William and Patrick talked about how to brighten the winter months with a great winter stew made from delicious “uber tubers”. In this newest episode, talk has turned to a trend in weddings that is now becoming mainstream…sustainability!
PATRICK: I tried your stew recipe…Wow! It was just the ticket to add some warm and cozy to a cold winter’s day! Thanks for sharing, and I am excited to “investigate” some other recipes in the future with you. Hint, hint.
I spoke to Chef Ahmad the other day and he mentioned that you two are collaborating on some interesting, fun ideas for a Green wedding coming up this season. Tell me more!
WILLIAM: Yes, we came up with some terrific menu ideas using our local sources. Chef has done such a great job forging relationships with our sustainable suppliers and local farmers that it’s a pleasure to have so much to work with. It’s a really nice feeling to know that we are always well-supplied with produce in peak season—raw materials that come from the local area—and can “source” with confidence.
PATRICK: I know that our culinary team loves what they do; that is clear.
WILLIAM: Yes they do, Agent C.
So, my client’s wedding is in June. As you know from our investigations over the years–even before we started blogging–June is a peak produce season. When we talked about some of her favorite food memories, she mentioned that her dad grew heirloom tomatoes. And her fiancée had mentioned that he loves “all things cheese“.
When I was later talking with Chef Ashley, she had a brilliant idea! “Why don’t we do a Chef’s Table presentation during the cocktail hour that is filled with various local cheeses, some awesome heirloom tomatoes and an assortment of condiments for the guests? Imagine having some lovely olive oils and perhaps some artisan salts for the perfectly ripe, sliced tomatoes, and some local honey, homemade jams and great breads to eat with the cheeses!”
“BRILLIANT!” I said, and when I told the bride, she was so excited! Not only did we hit a really positive note with the suggestions, but she loved the fact that we offered her something unique that she “never saw at one of her girlfriends’ weddings.” Really good stuff!
PATRICK: That reminds me of some of the positive changes we made several years back here at Affairs to Remember to keep in tune with responsible sustainability practices. Our total and complete elimination of polystyrene products for one, not to mention the reduction in harsh cleaning materials and company-wide recycling and composting programs that have set an industry standard here in the Southeast.
We have seen so many of the industry suppliers come around to offering Green-oriented products, as well. For example, there are some cool and environmentally safe disposable service ware options available now at reasonable prices. Fallen leaf bamboo plates and vessels are very on-trend, and they’re compostable.
WILLIAM: Compostable yes, but after lengthy investigations by our culinary and operations teams, not as “Green” as one might think.
PATRICK: What do you mean?
WILLIAM: It actually might be more environmentally sound to re-use china or glass plates over and over, washing with soaps that have less of an impact on the Earth and saving the energy that would be used to transport disposable products to our facility in exchange for the energy used to actually run the china in the dishwasher.
PATRICK: That makes sense on many levels. I suppose if a client has that particular “earthy” look in mind, the bamboo or other compostable might be good, but they should know the true tale. Better catering through investigation!
WILLIAM: You bet, Agent C! So, back to the very engaging bride I was working with…She knew she was in great hands from a menu development standpoint, but one of the other criteria important to her was to minimize waste generated by her event. I assured her that many of the venues we work in around the Southeast have adopted recycling in their bar programs, which divert thousands of pounds of glass and aluminum from landfills. When one thinks of the amount of bottles and cans generated by 200 guests at an event, it’s really quite stunning.
PATRICK: Something as simple as our standard practice of using pitchers of water rather than dozens and dozens of bottles of water for bar service has made a big impact.
WILLIAM: When I mentioned the many things we do on a daily basis at Affairs to “walk the walk” when it comes to Mother Earth, she was happy. I asked her if she had spoken to other caterers or event designers about these things that are important to her, and most of them stumbled. “You could tell it was not something ingrained in their company culture.” she said. “It was clear almost from the beginning of interactions with your company, William, that you guys were the real deal when it comes to responsible Green practices, and that means a lot.”
PATRICK: Love that! I am sure that has made a difference for her as a bride who has “braved the storm swirl” of planning a wedding.
WILLIAM: You bet, Agent C.! We will definitely have to circle back around to highlight her wedding in a future episode. I think we are just getting started with a true “Green design” to her special day and as innovators, just getting warmed up!
PATRICK: Speaking of “warmed up”, winter is the time many of us hit the gym, go on a diet and get ourselves healthy in anticipation of spring. Maybe we should investigate some health oriented Green practices over the next episode or two.
WILLIAM: Great idea! I am on that diet you mentioned, but it sure is hard being around all this seriously delicious food all day long. Even the employee lunch is over the top! But you know what they say, Agent C.
PATRICK: No, what’s that?
WILLIAM: NEVER trust a skinny caterer!
To be continued…
Do you take sustainability into consideration when planning a special event, at home or work? What questions do you ask your caterer before you sign the dotted line?
Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal explore some healthy habits related to food, exercise and the coming of spring. If any of that even remotely resembles your New Years resolutions, this is an episode you won’t want to miss!
This week’s 3Rs…
REVERED: “Sustainable Shelter” at MODA