You remember the taste of that delectable cream of asparagus soup, the artful swirl of Meyer lemon oil on top, the improbable delight of the tiny violet blossom pillowed
on the surface and the sound of the rushing Blackfoot
River beside you, time-aligned with the indigo crepuscular and the faint smell of piñon in the crisp mountain
air. A moment on the lips is transformed into a memory of spring in Montana, forever. Glancing about in this
memory, you recall the faces of your companions at the
table and the giggle, like the river, that runs through it.
Food and cooking are essential building blocks of
hospitality; they are tied to a primordial instinct that
binds partners, families and groups for a foundation of
harmony. Sarah Carter, CMP, director of industry alliances for the MPI Washington State Chapter and group
sales manager for Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel, is
a dedicated “foodie” and knows that F&B is an essential part of a meeting.
“When people are coming to a meeting where
they’re there to learn, food is typically one of the most
important parts of an event,” she says. “It’s something
they’re going to take a picture of and share on social
media, and when they think back on their trip, they’ll
think, ‘Wow, I had just the most amazing oysters in Se-
attle.’ I think food is the easiest way to tie an event to
its location and really create a memorable experience.”
Carter and Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson of
the Seattle Fairmont Olympic see this as a healthy and
fun challenge. To gather inspiration, Stephenson often
walks the ;ive minutes to Seattle’s incredible Pike Place
Market on his own and with groups to sample and con-
nect with part of his network of local purveyors. For
him, F&B is not only hospitality; it is a fun, transforma-
tive tool for groups.
Groups get to experience a farm-to-table scene
where the food from the market ends up on their
plates later that night at a reception in the Fairmont’s
Georgian Room, with chefs and purveyors on hand to
talk with guests. Carter sees these types of events as
eye-opening and a “wow” for participants, especially
for groups coming to Seattle for the ;irst time and unaware of its culinary offerings.
Bee Here Now
One of Stephenson’s favorite interactive F&B activities
is an “extraction party,” usually held once a year in July.
Interactive F&B experiences for groups are a recipe for success.
BY DIAN BARBER