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!