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Monday, July 16, 2018

We Checked Out "Le Petit Chef - Dinnertime Stories" in Nashville, Tennessee


A culinary journey around the world in 6 courses, involving 5 senses and 3D media mapping.
We visited our friend David Fischette in Nashville this past Friday to learn more about his very successful new event tool. The first North American public run at The Standard concluded a few days ago.

We wanted to find out whether we can bring this experience to the corporate event world.
The answer: YES!


'Le Petit Chef in the footsteps of Marco Polo' is a two hour dining show that tells the story of how the world's smallest chef follows the route of Marco Polo. The show’s 6 course menu takes the guest along a culinary journey across the regions visited by the legendary traveler. The unparalleled 3D show is complimented by a unique gastronomic experience full of fun and surprises. Diners engage in a 5-senses spectacle as they savor the tastes of the story along its sights, sounds and aromas. The 3D mapping concept uses animated optical illusion techniques to project a little chef cooking on your plate.
The concept had been created by two Belgian artists who teamed up with an entrepreneur and concept creator from Dubai to offer a unique new dining experience to the market.
Thanks to Go West Creative we can bring this extravaganza to a corporate event.

EW: How did you bring this concept to North America?

David: "One of our interns had brought the video of Le Petit Chef to one of our creative meetings and I was immediately enthralled. But my first question was: is this scaleable? We contacted the creators to get started. The original concept takes Le Petit Chef  from Marseilles, France to Arabia, India, the Himalayas to China and back to France, in search of all the world's greatest spices along the Silk Road with a set menu along the two-hour, 6-course journey. We adapted this concept to concentrate on the spices. We then contacted chefs in all these culinary regions to create menus based on those flavor profiles, the region and the city that we are in so we can infuse some local personality as well. So now we can also deal with every kind of allergy or food preference. We opened in Nashville in February and just closed last week and we are getting ready to take Le Petit Chef to Toronto with a Canadian partner where we will open on the 26th of September.

EW: How is this adaptable to a corporate event?

David: "Besides the media mapping there is one element that creator Nadine Beshir really brought to the table and that is the experiential delivery of each course. For instance, in the first scene Le Petit Chef sails away from Marseilles by folding a paper into a little boat. The first course is served in a suitcase. The second scene takes place in Arabia and the corresponding course arrives in an ornate black box. Diners have to figure out together how to open the mystery box. Inside they also find a hookah and a magic carpet. Each course is served in a different manner.
This is perfect for a executive board dinner, 25 to 30 people. We can go up to 100 diners. It can be done for a 1000 people but it loses the intimacy. The beauty of it is the shared experience. You sit at this long communal table and get to know all the people around you and experience this together. Everything happens simultaneously. With a large group you run into challenges. How do you get the food serviced exactly on cue for so many people? Ideally the dinner is produced for 20 to 75 people, maybe 100. At 100 we run at one staff for every 4 guests. That is just on the floor. Then you also have expeditors. It involves an incredible ballet between the kitchen, the food prep and how we execute each scene and the timing. Before we opened here in Nashville we rehearsed the wait staff for 5 hours a day for 5 days a week for 2 weeks before we opened for previews. We encountered some unique challenges in Nashville due to the measurements of the room 11 feet wide by 53 feet long.
The story is projected onto a book. The food gets served on a tray that gets placed on top of the book. So how do we serve the trays elegantly without bumping into people's heads or into each other?
We added some extra elements that we felt were missing in the European version of the event that we visited last November.
For the American experience we created a character of a maitre'd and created a story for him. He is an American who runs into the Little Chef during a trip and ends up becoming his assistant. The American maitre'd ties the story together as the Little Chef comes to America. We added a few more details for the American version. For example, in London the projectors were hidden in standard lamp shades. We felt there was an opportunity to reinforce the branding by creating the custom Japanese lanterns."

EW: "How long does it take to set up?"

David: "For a 100-person dinner we set up in one day and we rehearse 5 to 6 hours on the day of the event. We bring in a lot of floor managers. It helps if the room has rigging. Otherwise we bring in a truss. In each case we add decor to hide the technology. We don't need much power. The projectors are HD projectors and the rest of the lighting is LED. The technology is fairly simple to run. 100 amps covers it. It just is programming it that is complicated. In Nashville the show took place in a 175-year old building. Since the ceiling had shift in it we had to go in every day and realign the projectors."


Below: the table setting in 3D animation.


Above: same table setting with altered 3D animation effect.

EW: "Could you give us an idea about the budget?"

David: "If you are looking to do this it is ideal if the client books a series of dinners. The expense is relatively high for a one-of. For one group of 20 people the cost of bringing the technology and a staff of 12 to 15 is rather high. If you can produce 3 to 4 dinners in a week it becomes more interesting."

EW: "Are the graphics customizable?"

David: "We can add some customization, for instance wishing someone Happy Birthday at the beginning or end but the show is a combination of 3D and 2D animation and changing the Little Chef story line itself is very complicated. All the physical room decor can be adjusted and it changes for each location.
New shows are coming. Think of it a bit like Cirque de Soleil. They bring out new story lines every year. The current show Le Petit Chef has been running for 3 years. The Dinner Time Stories Team is developing a new show for release later in 2018. And we have a new show in development as well. It will be ready in October."


We love this novel idea of experiencing food in exotic locations in a communal, shared experience.

Call us. Bon Appetit!

Monday, July 9, 2018

We Have Advice to Beat The Heat!


Boy, it's hot out there!
We are wilting, coast to coast and everywhere in between.

As we fan ourselves and stay indoors we have compiled a list of tips to stay cool and enjoy summer.

HYDRATE

Still the best drink in our book, a recipe from our friend Corine Couwenberg: water melon and coconut water. Simply blend up and enjoy! If you want to get fancy garnish with fresh mint. Having a party: the mix blends well with vodka or gin.

STAY INDOORS

Janet lives North of Downtown, record breaking temperatures reached 119. Too hot even to enjoy the pool. Thankfully the AC works. Janet recommends binging on streaming television. She loves "A Very English Scandal", on Amazon Prime. Don't have Amazon Prime? You can catch the 3 episodes starring Hugh Grant in this special series based on a true story by signing up for the free trial.

Elizabeth Brazil has adjusted to Houston's climate. It's always hot and humid in summer. Any outdoor fun happens either early or late in the day. And an indoor shopping mall is never far in Texas.

GET OUT OF TOWN

Brynne is the lucky event producer who is working on our upcoming production in sunny and refreshingly cool Vancouver, BC. Daytime highs reach the low 70s.

Alisa had the chance to take a few days off to spend 4th of July with her sister in Portland, OR. While Portland reached 89℉ the Walsh clan enjoyed a row boat trip.


JUMP INTO COOL WATER

Ted lives close to the Pacific, infamously cool even in summer. The water temperature today: 69℉ - 20.5℃. Guaranteed to give you chills.

Kate and her children don sun protection gear and spend afternoons playing and having fun in the pool.

JUST ENJOY IT!

Kristen spent several years living in Las Vegas, NV, before moving to Los Angeles to join the EW Team.  She still thrives at 120℉!

Caroline embraces the heat  - she is vacationing with family in the desert.

LISTEN TO COOL MUSIC

Global media giant Mashable was so kind to compile a Spotify Chill list. Plug in your headphones and  think cool thoughts!



Our thoughts go out to all who are affected by the wildfires in the West.
Be safe!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Alisa Walsh Reports: World Cup from An Event Pro Perspective


Our Director of Business Development Alisa Walsh is a true soccer fan - so much so that she made the trip to Russia for World Cup, the globe's biggest sporting event.
It's not her first attendance at the most international athletic event either. Alisa previously traveled to South Africa and Brazil to celebrate the sport.
As a soccer player and passionate traveler she had a wonderful time. As an event professional she returned to Los Angeles with a number of mega-event observations she is happy to share.

Here above Alisa with her dad and her niece at the first game, supporting our neighbors, Mexico.


Alisa: "My love for soccer started in childhood. I grew up playing soccer. My best girlfriend and I had so much fun during our first World Cup in South Africa that we decided to attend all World Cups moving forward. Russia was no exception. It is a great way to see a country and to visit a place that wasn't necessarily on our bucket list. For this trip we invited other soccer playing friends and family members to join us. Every World Cup is different and Russia was certainly fantastic.

FIFA deserves a lot of credit for being such a well-oiled machine when it comes to this huge world event. They are very well organized. They made the process of obtaining tickets for the games very easy. They also provided each ticket holder with a "Fan ID" in advance. This ID served as an access badge to enter the stadium for the games but furthermore it served as a visa application for international travelers to enter Russia. Not having to go through a separate visa application process saved us a lot of time and it offered a really unique opportunity to see Russia. The country certainly opened its doors.

World Cup is such an incredible event environment. It brings together literally everyone in the world. You sit down in a stadium or a local pub and you will be next to someone from Australia, Spain, Japan, Senegal, Portugal.... Of course there is soccer rivalry but everyone gets along and it is such a fantastic reminder that events really do bring the world together. World Cup is probably the biggest example of that.

It is obviously one of the busiest times to ever visit a country and I think Russia had a lot more visitors than it anticipated. Everyone has seen the headlines about the beer shortage.

I was able to attend three matches. The Mexico-Germany game was great. it was such a unique environment. Of course we were sad that the USA did not qualify. So the Americans in Russia rallied around our neighbors from the South. There were more Mexican fans than I have ever seen before in a stadium and the team pulled off a surprising win against defending champion Germany. The atmosphere in the stadium was electrifying. It was an incredible experience to witness that.

We also spent some time touring the sites. We visited the Kremlin, the famous Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, we saw the Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg and a Russian ballet. It was a really good mixture of a fun soccer trip and a cultural trip.

My event eye caught many interesting aspects, especially the branding opportunities. Budweiser is the sponsor of FIFA and you could not miss it. They had so many huge activations as soon as you walked into the stadiums, especially the main stadium in Moscow. They had DJs, VR Photo Booths, Soccer Score board opportunities, all things we are familiar with in our industry but taken to enormous scale. You couldn't avoid it if you tried. It was everywhere in the country and it actually started the moment you boarded the Russia-bound plane. There were FIFA World Cup logos all over the place. All restaurants and bars were happy to show off their country and celebrate the World Cup.

Less exciting but extremely important: security at the events was a big concern. It was handled very efficiently for these stadiums that hold 80 to 90 thousand people. We did feel very safe. They had a lot of staff on hand and despite the crowds it did not take long. They did a great job running everyone through. Everyone had to show their Fan ID and it had to match the name on the ticket. We had to turn on our cell phones to show they were really a working device and pass a scanner. Despite the many steps they did a good job at moving the attendees along fast. It was handled very well for such a large international crowd."

Germany is already out of the World Cup but we continue to root for our neighbors Mexico!

Thank you for reading - and HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Event Report: Art and Automobiles - The Making of A Multi-Faceted Event


One location, two days, an event involving a global automobile corporation, a Brooklyn art-and-design space, a London-based multi-disciplinary art and design group, VIPs, media and the public. All in one production!

Event Date: May 15 and May 17, 2018
Location: A/D/O, Brooklyn, New York
Guest Count: Ranging from an intimate group of VIPs to 3,200 public guests.

Our Task:
Designing the experience around a press conference and VIP/Public Reception to celebrate the opening of "Spirit of The City" - an art installation by London-based United Visual Artists in  the Amalgamated Drawing Office - or A/D/O, Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Creative Director Kate Brack: "We were challenged to create an environment that framed the UVA art installation and distinct character of the existing interior design of A/D/O. It was a thrill to come up with minimal, striking details that fulfilled multiple roles; at once providing a professional engagement for the press conference, an elegant urban space for the VIP reception and a social media friendly environment for the public event."
Spirit of the City explores the physical and emotional responses of individualswhen navigating urban environments.

Vice President Kristen Rensch: "The process involved creative brain storming with our wonderful clients as well as many other entities in this multi-faceted production; among them a very hands-on team from the corporate client, the British United Visual Artists, A/D/O and many local entities. We concentrated on producing an effective decor that could satisfy each party involved and yet at the same time enhance the artistic elements of both the space and the art installation, honor the corporate client and please a very creative crowd. We had 5 weeks from start to event date to achieve all goals."

We created a registration space by utilizing existing counters and benches that we custom-arranged to be art and function. We added a gold metal chain drape to hide the event specific coat check storage area. The drape became a popular selfie backdrop and served in multiple functions on both days.
We employed it as a backdrop for the speaker stage at the press conference, the DJ stage and as hallway divider and decor. Lighting effects were used to enhance the effect.
Custom stage design for local Brooklyn DJs who provided entertainment in a variety of styles for the very hip crowd at the launch VIP and public event. Do you recognize the picture-worthy elements? Scroll back to the press conference registration. 
The client expected up to 1,000 guests. But social media, advanced press, and our multi-dimensional exterior lighting were effective. The lines went around the block. 3,200 guests enjoyed the public event.

Kristen: "We loved the energy at this event. It was truly exciting to produce parts of such a complex and creative event for such a trend-setting crowd. Thank you to our client for entrusting us with this assignment!"

Thank you for reading!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Event Report: "The Best of Las Vegas" Turned This Evening Into An Immersive Experience


EW's Stage Manager Ann Friday, VP & Executive Producer  Kristen Rensch and EPlus Productions' Event Producer Eddie Morales

The Event: 
Reception & Dinner Party with non-stop entertainment  for a Japanese group.
Date: June 6, 2018
Location: The Chelsea at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
Guest Count: 350

The Challenge: 
Creating experiential, immersive non-stop entertainment for an international group that included children.



Kristen Rensch: "Our client requested entertainment segments for many aspects of the evening consisting of a reception and a dinner show at The Chelsea.
10 Cirque-themed costumed characters created an immersive environment upon guests' entry. Photo ops with the characters provided interactive moments.
A few weeks before the event the client asked us to create a custom skit that company executives could participate in to greet and warm up the audience. This technique of introducing the executives, much in the manner of audience participation, into a stage act brought a comedic moment to the soiree and served to humanize the executives. The guests applauded the executives' efforts as they performed dance moves and a magic act.

The professional performances took place on the main stage and a center riser we installed in the room.
We added talent activations on the central riser to entertain guests during dinner courses between main stage acts, and to create a truly immersive environment for the event.

We completely customized the main entertainment acts with video and musical score for the evening, consisting of Cirque acts and a Michael Jackson-themed show.

The guests ranged in age from young children to mature adults. We were thrilled to be able to bring this custom show to the family audience. Las Vegas shows require a minimum age, children cannot attend. Our audience's youngest were excited to be able to join in this experience."




Atmospheric performers filled the theatre during show breaks.



The famous Michael Jackson Anti-Gravity Dance, perfected by EPlus Productions' dancers. How is it done? Our lips are sealed. But you may google.

Our guests loved the evening-filling entertainment. Our audience was excited and got up and danced along.

A big thanks for Bernie Gaps for custom designing themed centerpieces for the event.

We are very happy to have surpassed our client's expectations.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Event Report: Brynne and Alisa Love Working at The Grammy Museum


No wonder Brynne Peña and Alisa Walsh were excited to work at a local iconic venue that celebrates the entertainment industry.
In fact, both Brynne and Alisa have family members in the music business.

Brynne's brother Sam Price is the drummer in lovelytheband. They currently top the Alternative Songs chart on Billboard and are getting ready to start their first headlining tour this fall.

Alisa Walsh grew up backstage watching her stepdad perform in the most iconic California band, The Beach Boys.

No wonder our producers loved working at the Grammy Museum's Target Terrace at L.A. Live. Music is their inspiration. Our team channeled the energy into the event.

The Event:
A 2-Day Brand Showcase for a Luxury Hotel Chain.
Dates: June 5-6, 2018
Location: Grammy Museum, Target Terrasse at L.A. Live, Los Angeles, CA.
Guests: 150

Alisa: "It was a really great opportunity to showcase some of the ideas we have been wanting to produce! We created two very effective new activations. Our Director of Event Design Kate Brack had dreamt up the Paper Doll photo op and the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ food display a few months ago. We had been waiting for the opportunity to bring them both to life. We were so excited when our client trusted our ideas and allowed us to turn them into event reality."

A rack of "wardrobe" choices and accessories allowed the guests to turn themselves into "travelers" for the photo op. Each cutout was brand activated.\
The "Cabinet of Curiosities" allowed us to include branding information in a fun, new interactive way to display food. Guests did not know what to expect. Each white cabinet in the display wall contained a surprise. Each hotel brand had created their own signature dessert. A curtain hid the surprise behind each mirrored cabinet door. Once they opened we revealed a branded delicacy. Our guests commented how fun it was to explore.


The Grammy Museum already provides such an interesting, visually exciting event space with inspiring views and colorful music history memorabilia. We designed a decor that did not clash with the look and the feel of the venue but highlighted the character of the place. At the same time we incorporated the client's luxury brand by using lots of Gold and White and Black.

The vibrant energy of Downtown Los Angeles, the views, the iconic venue - we love working here.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Event Report: We Loved Working in Mexico City


Alisa with our Mexico Team: Gerardo and Rocio.

Alisa Walsh reports from Mexico City.

The Event: a General Session and Dinner 
Guest Count: 120
Industry: Hotel Franchise Owners and General Managers
Date: May 2018

One month time to produce a general session and dinner event in Mexico City? Not a problem.

Alisa: "Thanks to our wonderful team members in Mexico we can deliver an event in Mexico City in the same time frame it takes us to produce a similar event in our hometown of Los Angeles. I have to say, we had the hardest working staff ever. They did not have an easy load-in. As a further challenge we had a very short turnaround time from general session to dinner."




"We had just an hour and a half for the room turn and our team made it happen in record time even though they had to overcome a difficult access route. They had to bring all dinner evening elements in by walking through the kitchen and up one floor using stairs and a freight elevator. Our local crew made it happen in record time. They were the hardest working team, carrying four chairs at a time on top of their heads!"

The look: farm-to-table, bringing the wonderful colors and imagery of Mexico into the ballroom.


Any language barriers?

Thankfully no. Working "en español" is not a problem for Alisa who spent half a year in Costa Rica and speaks Spanish frequently at home in Southern California.

"We also work with a completely bi-lingual, San Diego based producer. In any case, our Mexico City contacts all spoke good English and were very gracious and hospitable."


Things you really need to know about working South of the border:

Payment Method:
Alisa: "We are used to paying for everything with company credit cards but many venues and vendors in Mexico do not accept cards. We had to discuss different payment options and paid most charges with international wire transfers ahead of time."

Holidays:
"Our event coincided with the Mexican Mother's Day, a Thursday.
Many businesses were shut down. Also due to the holiday inventory was more limited as many events were taking place the same day. We had to come up with creative solutions to make up for the shortfall. For instance, we selected seating elements in different styles and colors. The mix worked beautifully with our local art theme".
 
Our dinner concentrated on local cuisine. Our decor was inspired by famous local artists, especially Frida Kahlo. 
Alisa: "It was a wonderful experience to work in Mexico City. I can't wait to go back. Many thanks to Gerardo, Rocio and our team in Mexico City for such a great job."

Thank you for reading!