Blue Plate Catering & HMR Designs

Catering and Design Come Together Beautifully for These Chic Corporate Events in Chicago


All of us in the event industry know that it’s quite a feat to watch an event come together, with each of the involved teams gliding past one another like a choreographed dance number, each doing their part. Parties, after all, are the sum of many parts, each as important as the next. What is an event without lighting, food, music, furniture and decor?

City within the city. Photo by Fandl Photography

As decor both affects and is affected by so many other event elements, we work closely with them all. We checked in with one of our star partners, Blue Plate Catering, to take a closer look at just how food and furnishings worked together for two magnificent corporate soirees.

In a city as rich in culinary talent and variety as Chicago, it’s no surprise that food is often discussed before nearly anything else. For this eclectic corporate celebration at Millennium Park, Blue Plate joined the process over a year in advance, during the venue selection. As with the city itself, “food was the ‘main event,’ so to speak,” says Sales Director Katie Fleury of the taste of Chicago neighborhoods themed event, “and decor was designed around the menu.”

Ferris wheels and fresh fare at Millennium Park. Fandl Photography.

Expecting a range of predominantly out-of-town guests accustomed to both traveling and eating, Blue Plate worked carefully to showcase the culinary prowess Chicago so proudly touts. The menu offered Indian and Asian cuisines, steakhouse fare, and ballpark classics. Something for everyone indeed:

Hold the ketchup for these bits of mini magnificence. Fandl Photography.
Hold the ketchup for these mini and magnificent Chicago dogs. Fandl Photography.
Fresh Indian offerings from Blue Plate. Fandl Photography.


Mini Italian Beefs from Blue Plate. Fandl Photography.

As the chosen neighborhoods directly affected the design, Corporate Event Designer Brittanie Ahrens Navarro designed a mix of buffet stations as well as a favorite element of hers: custom made food truck facades created by the HMR Art Team. These offered guests a fun, novel experience with an on-the-street feel. “Blue Plate served right from the windows–it was super cool,” recalls Brittanie.

Step right up. Fandl Photography.

As many corporate events are hosted yearly, clients are often eager to do something fun and different. “When we have the opportunity to take more creative license,” adds Fleury, “that is a caterer’s dream.”

Cocktails under the tracks. Fandl Photography.
Trains, bags and fabulous fare. Fandl Photography.


Every buffet station a different hood. Fandl Photography.

For this chic corporate anniversary at Union Station, Blue Plate collaborated with HMR and Birch Design Studio to create an unforgettable evening for the massive celebration. 

A celebration of epic proportions. Kent Drake Photography.

Heidi Brock, Sales Director at Blue Plate Catering, noted that with soirees of this scope–food and beverage stations have a huge impact on the design and floor plan. “We try to help control the flow of the event by placing food stations strategically,” explains Brock, keeping things like carving stations–that tend to immediately draw guests –far from the entrance and closer to the kitchen.

Strategic stations and bars. Kent Drake Photography.

The Union Station celebration also highlights another main difference between weddings and corporate events: what food needs to accomplish. “While weddings tend to have more special touches of the bride and groom,” explains Brock, “a corporate event may have highlights of the company, but aren’t as narrow in approach.”

giant foam letters by hmr designs for a corporate event
Giant foam letters await production for the even more giant bash.

With this particular event, the company was celebrating 75 years, highlighting key phrases of its history such as innovation, growth and future. “That’s a little harder to define with food,” notes Brock.

But wonderfully fun to do with decor. So while Blue Plate focused on accommodating the large scope and very wide range of eaters, HMR and Birch Design Studio expertly incorporated all of freight company’s elements throughout the expansive room…

Buffet stations bearing key company phrases were easy for guests to find. Kent Drake Photography
Redefining “tired” at Union Station. Kent Drake Photography.
Driven design. Kent Drake Photography.
Kent Drake Photography.

“Never before have tires been so sophisticated,” notes designer Rishi Patel.

Kent Drake Photography.

With decor helping to reach those goals, Blue Plate designed a menu with fresh, seasonal items that were unique without being too unrecognizable. The end result was offerings such as (the less common) Prime Beef, paired with both the go-to horseradish sauce alongside a slightly more adventurous mint jelly…an excellent example of accommodating a wide range of palates.

Even the serving trays for delicious passed appetizers were part of the design. Kent Drake Photography.
A wonderfully fresh take on soup and a sandwich. Photo courtesy of Blue Plate.
Wonderfully fresh food and drink for the massive celebration. Photo courtesy of Blue Plate.
Blue Plate briefs an army of servers before the celebration begins. Photo courtesy of Blue Plate.

So the next time you’re celebrating, remember that wonderful celebrations are the product of a multitude of thoughtful creative teams working together just for you.

Special thanks to Katie, Heidi and Brittanie for their contributions to this post, and for sharing their fabulous work. Thanks to everyone at Blue Plate for always being a pleasure to work alongside. See you next time.

Finally, thanks to Fandl Photography and Kent Drake Photography.
Thanks to you, these events last much longer than just one night.