N.A.C.E. Tampa Bay Creates Makeshift Nightclub for Holiday Party

By Mitra Sorrells December 17, 2010, 9:50 AM EST

Photo: Ryan Joseph Photographs

The Tampa Bay chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives transformed the ballroom of TPepin’s Hospitality Centre into a nightclub Tuesday night for its annual holiday party. Organizers developed the decor and food around the theme of “Club N.A.C.E.”, even hiring off-duty police officers to serve as bouncers at the entrance and putting attendants in the men's and women's restrooms.

“We just wanted to do something fun and not as formal as it had been in the past,” said chapter vice president Sandy Rule, owner of Sandy Rule Events. “Basically everything was done in-kind by our member vendors, and this gives them a chance to showcase their work.”

Room Service, an AFR Event Furnishings Company, provided sleek white lounge furniture in the 9,700-square-foot ballroom. Conceptbait added flowing white drapes and a white dance floor in the middle of the room. Marvelless Mark provided the evening’s high-energy entertainment, along with a DJ and dancers.

The menu included a variety of easy-to-eat hors d’oeuvres created by Puff ‘n Stuff Catering. Some, like duck ropa vieja wontons, were butler-passed, while items such as lobster beignets and beet-cured salmon ceviche were presented at a chef-attended food bar. The company also used the room’s show kitchen for items such as sweet pumpkin ravioli and halibut with saffron broth.

“We wanted an element of surprise, so we handed out menus at the door sort of as a scavenger hunt, so that our guests would go around and talk to the chefs and get a description of exactly what they were creating,” said Rule.

Cocktail waitresses served five signature drinks throughout the night, a different one every 45 minutes. More than 160 people—members of N.A.C.E. and their guests—attended the party.

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