MICE events and gala dinners go together like beans and rice. In fact, meals, coffee breaks and cocktail parties punctuate mainstream get-togethers, providing a structure to the business day when delegates can network in a more relaxed fashion.
Event organisers have started to capitalise, moving on from simply staging all-singing-and-dancing suppers and suchlike to getting delegates involved hands on.
Last October, luxury French high-fashion house Hermes organised a soiree for 200 of its VIP members at the Regent Taipei in Taiwan. The theme of the party - Contemporary Asian - dovetailed neatly with the theme of the autumn collection, and guests were invited to attend a cooking class and create their own dishes under the encouraging supervision of the hotel's chef's brigade.
Naturally, the culinary students turned their hands to Gallic fare, conjuring up lobster, cr?pes and cream puffs, which were served at dinner that evening.
In similar vein, pulling in a well-known name sprinkles any event with more than a little stardust. In Bali, the Alila Villas Soori resort invited prominent and creative winemaker Antoine Billecart to host a special private dinner in January. Wine lovers associate his family name with one of the first rose Champagnes made in 1830, and his family's tradition in innovative winemaking has sparkled since the company's founding in 1818. The resort hosted a dozen guests who were served by Billecart at an exceptional feast.
'We are blessed with a fantastic spot right on the beach to host meetings and gatherings in a part of the island that is not discovered by mass tourism yet,' says Marco Groten, the resort's general manager.
'Our venue has the right balance of a perfect meeting environment without much distraction apart from the beautiful scenery and unintrusive, luxury service that is more towards pampering and spoiling.'
The event saw Billecart cooking for the high-profile guests and entertaining them with the Billecart-Salmon Champagnes he brought with him. Together with Alila's executive chef Ashton Hall, Billecart presented Extra Brut 2004 with scallop and coral sauce, and Blanc de Blancs NV with red snapper and basmati rice. Nicolas Francois 2000 was paired with chicken supreme and seasonal vegetables, while Brut Rose NV 2008 came with poached pears and a gateau of rose biscuits.