St Martin’s announces new events menus

Adam Ismael, head chef at St Martin-in-Fields is pleased to present a series of delicious new menus for events at this Trafalgar Square venue. Appointed in 2013, Ismael’s career background encompasses West End restaurants and prestigious events, including state banquets at Buckingham Palace.

Since becoming head chef, Ismael has opened Café in the Courtyard, revitalised the daily menus in the Café in the Crypt and this season he will introduce a new series of menus for events and meetings at St Martin’s. From canapés and fork buffets to sit down dinners, the new St Martin’s menus are sure to delight every client.

For more details of St Martin’s menus and for information on room hire and availability email events@smitf.org.

Whisky Socials at the Athenaeum

The Athenaeum Hotel is home to one of the biggest collections of whiskies in London, with over 300 varieties and counting. They aim to get their hands on every new expression they can, so that you can enjoy the widest possible choice on their whisky menu.

The bar is warm and welcoming, the perfect place to meet before going out or after returning to the hotel in the evening. It’s surprisingly discreet and full of quiet corners. Tuck yourself away with a paper. Enjoy a quiet romantic moment. The atmosphere is always merry. Not sure where to start or just want to know more? Work your way through the hotel’s extensive menu and read about drams from the Scottish Highlands to Japan, all with the help of their expert Whisky Sommelier.

The Athenaeum Hotel also hosts monthly whisky socials for guests and other whisky enthusiasts in its beautiful Hyde Park suite on the last Friday of every month. This unique and exclusive event pairs a different whisky with a specially selected menu and is presented by resident whisky Sommelier Ivo Silva and the brand ambassador from the respective whisky distillery.

To find out about the next Whisky Social please call 0207 640 3311 or email the events team on whisky@athenaeumhotel.com.

TWC uncovers the future of events at Destination Westminster showcase

Event planners learnt what events of the future will look like at Destination Westminster on Friday 13th September, with talk of 3D holograms, mood altering lighting, ‘unconference’ techniques and social media collaboration amongst tips shared and demonstrated during The Westminster Collection’s 10th anniversary venue showcase.

Held in the ornate surrounds of The Ballroom at central London venue 8 Northumberland Avenue, the breakfast showcase event, which was free to attend, was an opportunity for event buyers and planners to spend a morning with the sales and marketing teams at 50 of central London’s most iconic venues – all of which are available to hire for meetings, conferences, parties, dinners and events.

The Unleash Your Creativity forum saw speakers including Katie McPhee, senior community manager for Eventbrite, Sam Michel, founder of Chinwag and Jez Paxman, creative strategy director for Live Union, stretch delegates’ imaginations about what a conference could deliver if you’re brave enough to invite audience collaboration before or during an event to help shape content. Social media was cited as changing the whole nature of the buying process and Katie McPhee emphasised how important promotion is in making events successful – it takes four Facebook shares to sell one event ticket, she said.

Katy Hadcroft, general manager of RSA House, run by events caterer Harbour & Jones, also showed how food can become visual theatre and underpin interactive experiences for guests, if you apply a little imagination to presentation, serving techniques and taste.

8 Northumberland Avenue’s own catering team Alchemy demonstrated exactly how that is done with a brilliant breakfast menu that included mini Full English breakfasts served on slate squares, mini egg benedict, ‘posh porridge’ in mini bowls and three varieties of flavoured milk served from the crate in mini glass milk bottles, with straws.

TWC later took guests by surprise as Tracy Halliwell, London & Partners’ director of business tourism and major events, was ‘invited’ onto stage to deliver a special message of encouragement to buyers considering London as a business destination. Guests were none-the-wiser that she had magic powers as she spoke inspiringly about TWC’s role in delivering London’s future 2020 vision for business tourism, until she exploded into a bluster of feathers before re-emerging as a chiming, twirling 3D hologram of Big Ben. She had never really been on stage at all – it was all a holographic illusion created by Musion (and filmed in advance of the event).

Destination Westminster marked 8 Northumberland Avenue’s debut of this Musion technology and a dynamic presentation then followed incorporating true-to-life musical performances, animated presenting techniques and interactive graphics led by Musion director Ian O’Connell.

Robin Parker, TWC’s marketing director, said: “This year’s showcase delivered a thought provoking experience for both our event buying guests and member venues. It was great to see several new members exhibiting for the first time this year and many venues relished the opportunity to tell events organisers about the developments they have made to their meetings and events facilities in the last 12 months. The feedback from both members and guests has been very positive.

“The aim of the Showcase has always been to sell the destination first, highlighting Westminster as an area with the whole package. It’s not just for events, but for lifestyle, culture and entertainment and we hope that our Destination Westminster guests enjoyed the opportunity to meet and network with 50 of the borough’s finest.”

For news and updates from TWC, follow @Venues_Wminster on twitter and use #DestinationWestminster to join the showcase conversation.

Church House hosts politicians and dignitaries for Islamic Relief dinner

The Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband and the Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan were the keynote speakers at a VIP dinner held at Church House Conference Centre.

Hosted by Islamic Relief, the UK’s biggest Muslim charity, the dinner celebrated the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the launch of the charity’s War on Hunger campaign, aimed at urging people to look beyond the politics of war and terrorism and support its life changing work in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East.

Guests at the event included a host of parliamentarians, ambassadors, Muslim community leaders, business professionals and high-profile personalities.

“We are delighted to have such an illustrious group of speakers joining us to welcome Ramadan and hear about our campaign,” said Jehangir Malik, UK director of Islamic Relief.

At the event Ed Miliband said, “I want to congratulate Islamic Relief on its campaign on the War on Hunger. It’s an important campaign because it looks beyond conflict – whether it’s in Syria or in Afghanistan or elsewhere – and it asks the question that all right-minded people would ask, which is: ‘What can we do to make a difference to the most vulnerable people in this country?”

Church House Conference Centre, a Grade II listed building, has 19 spacious and diverse rooms, which can accommodate a wide variety of events, making it one of the city’s most versatile venues.

76 Portland Place brings scientific wonder to event menus

76 Portland Place, home of the Institute of Physics, is renowned for pushing the boundaries of innovation to deliver show-stopping, sustainable event menus and now, after months of experimentation in its kitchens, the team is pleased to announce the launch of its ‘Molecular Tasting Menu’. It is available now for anyone looking for something different and unique at their next fine dining function.

Combining a number of complex and intricate techniques, Leo Rodley, executive chef at 76 Portland Place, and his team have used sophisticated methods and the latest equipment available to create menus which appeal to the senses and play mischievously on the palate to create a memorable dining experience.

The tasting menu features seven courses, with high quality ingredients which can be manipulated to take on different textures and enhance natural flavours. Highlights include table smoked salmon mi-cuit, prepared sous vide and served under a glass cloche, enrobed in the delicate, heady aroma of apple wood smoke, or a 72-hour-roasted beef rib and Dexter beef fillet with broccoli three ways, dehydrated nettle leaves and a rich port jus.

Some of the dishes can be prepared table-side, to dramatic effect, like the nitro-poached green tea mousse – a refreshing palate cleanser.

The molecular tasting menu is bespoke and available to anyone booking a fine dining event at 76 Portland Place throughout 2013. Prices are available on request for between 4 – 20 guests.

For more information, contact Jenny Hullock at jenny.hullock@76portlandplace.com or on tel: 0207 470 4871.

St. Ermin’s Hotel all a-buzz over ‘Honey Month’

By Tom Walsh, Director of MICE Sales at St Ermin’s Hotel, London

The plight of the British bee is something we feel passionate about addressing at St Ermin’s Hotel and to celebrate the hard work of our 300,000 Buckfast bees, housed in hives on the roof of our hotel, this September we are hosting ‘Honey Month’.

The initiative gives us the chance to give back to the environment. It also provides us with a delicious, signature honey which we use within our catering. Throughout the month, day delegates will be served a selection of delicious honey themed items as part of their breaks, such as lemon polenta and honey cake, honey and butter flapjacks or sultanas and honey granola bars. Alternatively guests can round off their event with a decadent honey-infused cocktail. Caxton Bar will be serving honey-based cocktails that have been carefully designed to showcase the bees’ hard work, such as ‘G&T for my Honey’ – an ambrosial take on the classic.

Head Chef will also be putting honey centre stage at Caxton Grill, as special dishes will feature on the menu throughout September, from honey parsnip soup, to organic lamb in honey and thyme dressing with honey-infused goat’s cheese.

As well as bees on our roof, we now have three beehives and a ‘bee hotel’ happily ensconced on our third floor walkway, surrounded by a small wildflower garden. This year we are able to offer small groups a special urban bee keeping workshop run at the hotel by our beekeeper, Camilla Goddard of Capital Bee.

Workshops can be individually tailored, but principally are for groups of up to 12 (from £15 per head), they last two hours and they involve active learning about colony establishment and regular care, handling of the honeycombs, plus reference materials. All beekeeper suits and equipment will be supplied and the course is followed by a honey cream tea or cocktail for participants. Give me a call on 0207 227 4816 to discuss your requirements or for full details and prices, please click here.

RCS open afternoon sees 150 intrigued event profs marvel at medical memorabilia

An open afternoon at The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) saw 150 event professionals discover the wonders of this major medical institution this week, where 15 characterful rooms each boast their suitability for a range of corporate and private events.

Champagne and nibbles by catering partner Ampersand greeted guests as they arrived to the Surgeon’s Library – the only part of the building to have survived the WW2 bombings – before a guided venue tour led them to the weird and wonderful medical samples and equipment on display within the stunning Hunterian Museum, on to the state-of-the-art lecture theatres and through to the large Edward Lumley Hall, which has capacity for 350 banqueting style.

RCS homemade lemonade

Concluding in The Webb Johnson Hall with a Holborn High Tea and dishes including watermelon and duck salad, and fillet of Herefordshire beef with fondant potato, cauliflower and elderflower puree, guests then networked over homemade lemonade, cocktails and exquisite wine. Guests departed with goody bags bursting with treats, including quirky personalised hand sanitizer true to the venue’s medical roots, homemade lemonade plus a cluster of exclusive offers.

If you would like to arrange a visit to view The Royal College of Surgeon’s event spaces, please contact Emma Hayes on 020 7869 6745 or email ehayes@rcseng.ac.uk.

Green is the new black: why sustainability matters in events

By Maria Langshaw, venue marketing manager, RIBA

In an increasingly competitive market, it seems that being environmentally friendly as a venue is now a necessity to secure business. Clients have so much choice when it comes to choosing a venue that they now need to justify their decision more thoroughly. Moral obligation and corporate responsibility play such a huge part in making decisions now that spending seems to be scrutinised more than it ever used to be.

Here at the RIBA, we have just achieved the Carbon Smart Silver standard, which means we have demonstrated that we are taking an intelligent and flexible approach to reducing our carbon footprint.

Our full environmental policy is available for our clients to view on our website but the main highlights are that:

– none of our waste goes to landfill

– 100% of our electricity is from renewable sources

– we have our very own RIBA Venues herb garden at the back of our Florence Hall (which we like to point out on show rounds!)

Our caterer Ampersand also plays its part by using locally sourced and sustainable produce where possible and fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate.

So, this is all very well but does it actually bring you more business? Well, in May alone we were chosen by The Guardian to host its Sustainable Business Awards and also for the second time in two years we were chosen to host The Footprint Awards. For us then, yes, it does seem to be playing a part in us winning more business.

While I do think these clients chose us because our Florence Hall, with its floor to ceiling windows and outside roof terrace, can comfortably accommodate the number of guests that these events attract, but surely it’s vital that if the caterer’s remit is to produce canapés and food stations using only sustainable ingredients, then we, as a venue, need to prove that we are playing our part too?

Personally, it makes me feel better to work for a company that is making such steps to reduce its carbon footprint and if it makes us more appealing to clients along the way, then that’s an added bonus!

Christmas party venues: Roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and carols

Come in from the cold at No.11 Cavendish Square, near Oxford Circus and walk the red carpet to discover twinkling lights, stockings hanging on the fireplaces, presents piled under the tree and the aroma of cinnamon and spices filling the air in the pretty Garden Room.

Spend the evening warm and rosy-cheeked in the heated Courtyard Garden, which will transform into a snow-covered Christmas market complete with chestnuts roasting on an open fire and stalls serving mulled wine and warm winter cocktails. Packages start at £110pp for between 80-300 people and include unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks, a DJ and dance floor and a three-course seated dinner or bowl food selection in the Orangery or Burdett Suite. For more information or to book, call 020 7307 2474 or email venue@no11cavendishsq.com.

At the newly refurbished Prince Philip House, overlooking St James’s Park and The Mall, classic Christmas carols, Broadway musical and operatic renditions by Cantanti Camerati chamber choir set the scene perfectly for private lunchtime or evening parties for 10-200 people. Make food a focal point with a twist on classic Christmas fare; dishes include Gressingham duck and red onion tart, followed by chocolate and chestnut délice with Griottines cherries.

Complete packages start from £65pp including a luxury drinks and festive canapé reception, followed by a three-course fine dining dinner. Call 020 7766 0600 or email info@princephiliphouse.com for more information.

More London Christmas party venues options:

Good, old-fashioned nostalgia: 1920s & 1940s

VIP gigs and the edible Sugar Palace

Your own private members club

Lights, camera, exhibition!

A classic Christmas knees-up

Christmas with a conscience

Intimate, private dining celebrations

Work hard, play hard

Christmas party venues: A classic Christmas knees-up

Sometimes simple is best and the classic, warm and cosy Christmas around an open fire, with a slap-up turkey and all the trimmings, is a tradition best preserved.

At No.4 Hamilton Place you’re guaranteed a feast fit for a king or queen, with a superb ‘Regal Christmas’ spread within the luxury surrounds of this Edwardian town house featuring Louis XVI gilt cornicing, chandeliers, bow windows and a magnificent baroque staircase.

Enjoy a seated dinner, or opt for a more informal ‘grazing’ menu with unlimited house wine, beer and soft drinks, before throwing some royal shapes on the dancefloor. With crowns, coronets and tiaras in abundance, No.4 Hamilton Place offers the ultimate in majestically themed experiences for 50 to 300 partygoers. Regal Christmas lunches start at £54pp, bowl food and grazing menus at £74pp and seated dinners at £90pp. Call 020 7670 4314 or email christmas@4hp.org.uk.

An elegant luncheon or dinner awaits within the Georgian surrounds of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, in Mayfair, with two private dining rooms perfect for groups of 20 to 70 guests. Make your Christmas twinkle with a sparkling wine and canapé reception, followed by a three-course meal with half a bottle of wine per person. Exclusive room hire prices start from £470 for lunch and £500 for dinner, with catering priced at £67.50 per person. All Christmas bookings made and confirmed before 31st August will receive 10% off when quoting ‘TWC Christmas treat’.

Church House Conference Centre, nestled alongside Westminster Abbey in the exclusive Dean’s Yard, promises you’ll simply have a wonderful Christmas time with its excellent value sparkling wine reception and three-course yuletide dinner menu. The event deal incorporates half a bottle of wine, table decorations and crackers, a 4.5-hour beer, wine and soft drinks package, disco, DJ and lighting all for £75 per person, with options available for 50 to 350 guests. For receptions, capacity is available for up to 550. Call 020 7390 1590 or email sales@churchhouseconf.co.uk to enquire.

More Christmas party venue options:

Good, old-fashioned nostalgia: 1920s & 1940s

VIP gigs and the edible Sugar Palace

Your own private members club

Lights, camera, exhibition!

Christmas with a conscience

Roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and carols

Intimate, private dining celebrations

Work hard, play hard