Interviews and writing by Lyne Branchaud
In the events sector, some projects require organizers to get out of their comfort zone and push themselves—and their partners—to the limit! These companies in the Laurentians rose up and met the challenge with gusto.
Here are two accounts of such challenges from Olivier St-Arnaud, Executive Chef at the Casino de Mont-Tremblant, and Carole Tétrault, Director of Sales at the Manoir Saint-Saveur.
Truly listening to the customer’s needs
“A customer asked me to suggest an event for people who’ve seen it all,” recalls Carole Tétrault, Director of Sales at the Manoir Saint-Saveur.
“We suggested a concept where he would exclusively have the downhill ski hill branded with his company’s logo, a chance for all participants to go skiing and enjoy an outdoor bar at the foot of the mountain, and to top it all off, a firework display on the mountain.
“This request forced us to rack our brains, talk and work with our multiple suppliers and really think outside the box to offer an innovative concept that brought together several contributors… And thanks to this original request, we now have a new offer we can suggest to other customers who are looking for a unique experience,” explains Tétrault.
Several challenges in one
“One of my biggest challenges was organizing the ‘Four Chefs in Altitude’ event as part of the Tremblant Gourmand signature experiences,” says Olivier St-Arnaud. “Not only had I just started as executive chef at Altitude, the Casino de Mont-Tremblant’s restaurant, and had to adapt to a new company, a new team, and a new kitchen, but I also had to organize and deliver an event that would really wow the guests… Quite a tall order!” recalls St-Arnaud.
The “Four Chefs in Altitude” event is a five-course meal during which 75 guests discover a menu inspired by the best the region has to offer, created by four chefs—Eric Gonzalez (chef at the Casino de Montréal’s Atelier Joël Robuchon restaurant), Hakim Chajar (chef and host of La Relève and Hakim Chajar Inspiration Chef), Denis Girard (executive chef at the Casino du Lac-Leamy and Casino de Mont-Tremblant), and of course, Olivier St-Arnaud.
“There were so many challenges for this event! First of all, finding renowned chefs who would be available for the day of the event and who wanted to participate, then creating a selection of dishes with each chef and checking feasibility and logistics, plus we had to make sure all the dishes worked together, get top-quality products, develop a concept that would attract guests, turn the reception lounges into a work space so each chef had his own work area, and last but not least coordinate all communication with everyone involved, who were spread out across Montreal, Gatineau, Mont-Tremblant, and filming in Quebec and Europe,” says St-Arnaud.
“But in addition to meeting all these challenges brilliantly, we were rewarded because the event was sold out before the festival even started, everything ran smoothly, it was straightforward and well-organized, and especially, all four chefs had fun, which, in my opinion, means we met our goals!” says St-Arnaud.
In my next article, I’ll tell you about two more examples of companies that met the challenge of unusual requests from meeting planners.
By Lyne Branchaud
Lyne has been the president of Guide Événement for six years and is involved in planning several corporate events and conferences (Descair, Aubainerie, RISQ, etc.). Lyne is also a lecturer and professor of event planning at Zoom Académie and LaSalle College. With over 20 years of experience with advertising agencies and corporate events departments, including Provigo and Uniprix, Lyne is the author of the best-selling book L’organisation d’un événement : Guide pratique and the blog Guide Événement, which is dedicated to anything and everything related to events.
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