When most of us think about the Super Bowl, I think it is fair to say that we usually don’t venture far beyond the revelry, advertising, halftime show, and of course, the game. But this year was dramatically different for everyone on the Amici Team, as our involvement in the festivities extended far beyond our wildest dreams. As many of you know, we were selected as one of the official vendors to cater the Super Bowl, and so naturally, many of our friends, family, customers and fellow colleagues have asked about our experience. Here are a few of the most common questions we have been asked, and a behind the scenes look at an official NFL Super Bowl party:
Were you “discovered,” or did the Super Bowl Genie grant you one of your wishes?
Well, if there was a Super Bowl Genie, it would be called the Arizona Host Committee, the non-profit organization entrusted with the role of liaison between the NFL and local stakeholders in creating a united, seamless, and vibrant event. The Host Committee created a program called Business Connect – where 400+ local Arizona businesses applied and were considered for inclusion in an online database that the NFL, its sponsors and their affiliates use for event referrals. Amici submitted an application for consideration… and voila! We were selected for the database and made the first cut. From there, the NFL’s Los Angeles-based event production company did the planning.
Out of the millions of events in the city, what Super Bowl event did you cater?
Amici was one of 40 local caterers/restaurants to prepare the food and beverage for the NFL VIP Tailgate Party. The NFL hosted the event for their guests which included owners, sponsors, partners and VIP guests. 10,000 people were invited and yes, we were in awe being in the presence of people we usually see in magazines.
From Mexican to Italian and lots of yummy menu choices in between, how did you decide what to present for the tasting, and what did they choose?
Well, the Southwestern theme helped us narrow down the choices, so we presented these ideas:
- Pork Carnita Slider with Jalapeño, Prickly Pear BBQ Sauce and Dried Cherry Kale Slaw
- Poblano Bratwurst Corndog with White Cheddar Dipping Sauce
- Baja Shrimp Cocktail – a flavorful Gazpacho of Mexican Gulf Shrimp, Cucumber, Cilantro and Tomato
- Vegetarian Black Bean Lettuce Wrap w/Black Beans, Grilled Sweet Potato, Cotija Cheese & Yogurt Salsa Drizzle
- Churro Donut with Chocolate Chile Glaze Dusted with Cracked Cactus (a candy made from prickly pear juice)
- And they chose… (drumroll please)… Baja Shrimp Cocktail and Black Bean Lettuce Wrap.
Since the chosen theme was “Flavors of the Southwest,” can you describe the décor of the event? Are we talking saddles and cowboy boots?
The event team envisioned a more modern take on the theme, and less of a western feel, so thankfully, not a saddle or cowboy boot in sight. This was tailgating at an entirely new level.
The event was held in 100,000 square feet of tented space and 120,000 square feet of open space with two separate stages and two well-known performers (we are limited as to how much we may disclose), well-placed seating sections that those of us in Arizona fondly refer to as the “outdoor living room,” and as expected, half a dozen bars situated throughout the venue that were far from your neighborhood sports bar, as these were adorned with ice sculptures! The décor was Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired, and the space was innovative, modern and fresh, using geometric shapes and linear lines, patina-rich raw metals, shades of chartreuse and purple, and various species of cactus.
Were there any glitches or “the house is on fire” moments at the event?
In the catering industry, a glitch is simply a hiccup in your day. In Arizona, a party planner’s worst nightmare – especially when half of the space is uncovered – is RAIN! In this case, thankfully, the rain stopped just in time to lay the wood flooring, which had an interior grass overlay (mimicking a carpet inlay) which further enhanced the outdoor living room effect.
It was entirely clear that this wasn’t the party planner’s first rodeo and that their specialty was large scale, multiple-day events. They had a clear design and vision, and their attention to detail – along with hiring well-qualified professional teams – enabled them to pull off an event that truly spoke well for our State. We love to work with kindred spirits, and for us that means organizations that value thorough planning which promotes an amazing sense of teamwork. When this happens, the results show and the environment remains light and relaxed.
So, they paid careful attention to supporting locally-owned businesses. Were there any other community-conscious initiatives at the event?
Yes, it was refreshing to see an organization pay equal attention to our local environment as well as the economic impact. Thankfully, with the scale of the event and the amount of trash inevitably created, they were aware of this footprint and requested that vendors prepare food items that could be presented in edible containers, as well as utilizing compostable service ware. In addition, arrangements were made for perishable food (that normally would be thrown away) to be recovered through the local charity, Waste Not.