White Paper on ECV11 Meeting Design

When we began this experiment we call Event Camp Vancouver, we had many objectives, and we achieved much as a group. We learned lessons from the seven Event Camps that had taken place before us, learned from their innovations and experiments, and built on some and added some new twists. There was so much thought, time, effort and energy put into what was a highly successful experience, and so many learnings along the way we simply had to share these.

In this paper we will walk you through the intentional meeting design elements we incorporated and how we began with low-tech, high-touch sessions to build trust among participants and then evolved into a high-tech, high-touch hybrid event on the second and third day.  Incorporating best practices in sustainability, social gaming and event technology we were able to create a meaningful experience and introduced a number of elements that meeting and event professionals could experiment with and may be able to include into their own events.

Going through the process of re-examining why we did what we did clarified what worked well, what we can improve and how we can grow from this experience.We hope you find this useful and welcome your comments.

ECV11 White Paper


VCC – Brain Friendly Food and More

Quite honestly, this innovative and thoughtful menu was too good not to share.

#ecv11 Vancouver Convention Centre Meal

Chef Blair Plates lunch

To be able to put into practice what we are talking about with meeting design and brain friendly foods, and to see and hear about the tangible results was an Event Camp win for all.

Often as meeting planners we will choose from existing menus which may not entirely inspire with their flavours.  More importantly though, the approach often means that we are feeding our delegates high-fat breakfasts, breaks that have many baked goods full of white flour and white sugar leading to carb and sugar loads that have a negative impact on learning and engagement as your body struggles with the chemicals they release in the brain which leads to the “rush” and then the crash, rather than a stable release of blood sugars that allow for maximum meeting energy.

 With Event Camp Vancouver we worked with the Chef to try a fresh approach and the snacks below were available always through the day, so participants could go out at any time and re-energize on their own schedule.

For more information on Chef Blair Rasmussen’s philosophy and approach to creating nutritious and delicious food in the Vancouver Convention Centre’s scratch kitchen can be found here  

The Menu

 Morning Energy Bar

Low Fat Yoghurt Mango Banana Shots

Build Your Own Granola 

Gluten-free Chocolate Almond Loaf

Smoked Oceanwise Salmon, Emmenthal and Free-Range Egg Popovers

Fruit Energy Shot Blocks

Whole Fruit Basket 

Espresso Drink Bar with a Range of Espresso Drinks with Skim, 2% and Soy Milks, Matcha Tea Lattes, Vancouver Convention Centre Wildflower Honey 

Raspberry Smoothie and Watermelon, Organic Orange, Grapefruit and Carrot Juices

Pitchers of Water

Lunches at meetings are often heavy, or multi-course or buffet, and often are also high carb, leading every speaker to ask to not have that post lunch spot! Chef Blair and his team presented an incredible, light, fresh lunch full of local ingredients, and the participants really appreciated having something different. 

Lunch was presented with family style platters for the salad skewers and mini-dessert pops with the main presented in a “bento box” format shown above.

Platters of Caprese Salad Skewers

Spot Prawn Cucumber Sunomono, Micro Greens, Oceanwise Albacore Tuna Tataki and Avocado Tartar on Grilled Papadum,Vegetable Tofu Crepe Roll, Aldersmoked Free range Chicken, Chanterelles and du Puy Lentils

Platters of Double Chocolate and Lemon Cake Pops, Light Raspberry Ricotta Cakes, Apple Kuchen 

Afternoon Energy Bar

Build Your Own Trail Mix 

Garden Vegetable Crudités,

Gluten-free Crisps, Yogurt Dip and Hummus

Cranberry Oat Bites, Kamut Shortbread

and again the Fruit Energy Shot Blocks, Espresso Drink Bar,  Hydration Station were again available.

We knew we were providing the nutritional basis for keeping the attendees alert, so we added small details, a sand trough to play in, playdoh and markers at the lunch table, and an amazing environment to ensure that all the senses were engaged, each piece leading to greater retention of learnings and more “connecting the dots” which leads to greater future application of learning.

Thank you to the Vancouver Convention Centre and Centerplate Catering for understanding and working with us to deliver this innovative menu.

Food fit for Circus Camp

At the beginning of the planning process for EventCamp Vancouver, Culinary Capers came on board to serve up delicious fare for our Saturday night event at the Underground Circus rehearsal space. This was to be an evening where “Fear is Just a Word” and where we could play with our food as well as the apparatus.   It was also important for us to stay with the sustainability we had woven through the balance of EventCamp Vancouver, and Culinary Capers is a major proponent of using local, fresh, seasonal ingredients, and in constantly innovating and reinventing food presentation, and they definitely delivered!

Culinary Capers cream puffs

The Cream Puff Cart ready for action

ECV11 Saturday Evening Menu is here for your perusal and enjoyment.  We thought it was fabulous – every single bite!

Then there was the circus – and what a lot of fun this was.  Campers could climb the skyladder, take a turn on the triceau, watch performances including crazy contortion, learn how to fall, talk to the owners of Culinary Capers Vancouver and Beijing via Skype, have a chat with a California green event planner, Joella of Mumtaz Events who kindly joined into the party, make a shadow in the shadow box, swing around on any of the moving platforms hung at sitting level, and enjoy simply fantastic food with a glass of wine poured by a wine fairy.  This was a night unlike any other experience that our guests had participated in – and one that won rave reviews.  We are still grateful to Peter, Ninon and the acrobats for welcoming us and making this a simply great party!

Corinne Kessel Climbs

Corinne Kessel of Greenscape Decor is up the ladder!

Underground Circus contortion

Not to be tried at home!

Culinary Excursions – a peek at Saturday Night

Culinary Capers on the Great Wall

Deb and the team at Culinary Capers Beijing

We are excited for all of our guests for the culinary experience you will have at Event Camp in the food mecca that is Vancouver.  On Saturday evening we will be taking you off-site to a cirque rehearsal space (really!) and Culinary Capers Catering will be preparing and presenting you with an enticing reception as we explore and enjoy delicious food in this unique environment.  This will all  happen on Saturday evening during Event Camp Vancouver, November 4th to 6th. 

Q&A with Debra Lykkemark, President and CEO

This year, Culinary Capers Catering is celebrating 25th years in the off premise catering business in Vancouver.  What do you think is your secret to your longevity in the business and the secret to your success. 

Never stop learning, networking and exploring. We have been very involved with the Special Event, the ICA and ISES though serving on the boards or advisory committees, chairing conferences, entering for industry awards and attending International conferences.   It has not been inexpensive but the value in learning and the industry friendships and alliances we have formed as a result are invaluable. 

 What keeps you motivated and inspired every day.  

Watching my staff grow and develop.   We have as a team created a organization that embraces challenges and thrives on constantly innovating and perfecting what we do.

 Why do you think clients value and use Culinary Capers Catering?Catering is very difficult to do well because every time you do a job the menu is different, the venue is different, the clients are different, the occasion is different.  It takes imagination, talent, experience and a flexible team to make the client’s event vision come to life.   BUT, once you have won their trust by producing an outstanding event, you will have a client for life.

 What changes are you seeing in catering events that are both challenging and exciting.  

The economic crisis is definitely affecting the event industry.  We are very lucky we had the Olympic Games because that brought a lot of business pre Olympics and of course during the Olympics. Post Olympics, with our new GORGEOUS convention center I believe we will attract a lot of new conference business to our BEAUTIFUL city. 

You’ve got three Olympic Games (Torino, Beijing and Vancouver) under your belt – do you see Culinary Capers Catering going to the 2012 London Games or Sochi in 2014?

We went to the Torinoand Beijing Olympics to prepare for the Vancouver Olympics.   We wanted to understand what clients would be good fit for us for the 2010 Olympics and we needed to understand the challenges of catering for sponsors and country houses at the Olympics.   Was it a money maker going to Torino and Beijing? – definitely not.   By the time you do all the site inspections, get your equipment, kitchen and staff organized, deal with all the problems of doing business in a foreign country you are lucky to break even.   Was it fun?   Hell yes!   So, will we be going to London or Sochi….hmmm….if the right client comes along of course!…the Olympics are addictive!

Tell us about how Culinary Capers Beijing and Switch! Restaurant came to be.

When I won the contract to cater for BC Canada Pavilion in Beijingfor the 2008 Summer Olympics I was very apprehensive.   It was a five month contract and I was worried I would not like being there and that I would have a lot of difficulty getting the food, staff and equipment I would need.  

In order to do business there I needed to partner with a local company as I needed to have an off-premise kitchen to prepare the food for the pavilion.  I found a partner but the kitchen they promised did not materialize.   Fortunately they had hired the Executive Chef, Billy Kawaja, from the Canadian Embassy inBeijing.   When the original deal with the Chinese company fell through Billy found us a kitchen in a western restaurant and came on board as our Executive chef in Beijing.  We enjoyed working together so much that we formed a partnership in Asia and now have a catering company in Beijingand a fun casual restaurant called SWITCH!

 How big are the Beijing operations and why is it so successful?

China is growing so fast it is amazing to witness.   The growth is fantastic in a lot of ways but also really challenging as we are having to deal some clients who have little experience event planning.   That is why we LOVE working with DMCs and Incentive Houses.   Our most satisfying and exciting jobs are for companies like Jack Morton and MCI who do world class events in Beijing – on the Great Wall, at the Summer Palace, in a Temple Courtyard.

 How often do you fly to Beijing?

Usually three times a year.  My partner Billy Kawaja runs the business so I just go over when they are super busy and could use an extra hand.  Peak season for events is the spring and fall and for the restaurant it is spring, summer and fall.    

 Do you see Culinary Capers Catering and Special opening in any other locations globally?

Billy and I  think there is a lot of opportunity in other cities in China for other catering divisions and restaurants so for the next few year that will be our focus.   

 What can EventCamp attendees expect from Culinary Capers Catering and Special Events on the evening we are sponsoring. 

Our focus for the evening will be a delicious cocktail style dinner featuring local sustainable food.   Want to know more?   Sign up for Event Camp!