When events went virtual, sharing a meal with coworkers and fellow industry professionals at in-person meetings and events became a realized luxury. The opportunity to connect with others over food disappeared for a while, but catering companies like Tastings in New York and Miami worked to keep it around by launching its new service, Tastings 2.0, in April.

“Sharing a meal together brought a sense of normalcy that we were all looking forward to,” says Giovanna Mansi, events and PR director at Tastings SoFlo.

Tastings 2.0 prepares and brings meals to virtual events attendees in NYC, the Hamptons, and Miami. The catering company still serves a “modern twist on French American and reinvented classic cuisines of the world” amid the pivot, although a few considerations have been put in place due to  the nature of delivery and the pandemic. Raw meat or fish are no longer served for safety reasons, and employees wear masks and gloves and take temperatures daily so that planners and attendees can have confidence in the safety of the food. This way, professionals don’t have to sacrifice sharing a meal and settling for a happy hour instead.

“People were already used to Zoom happy hours and celebrations. But they were only sharing a screen and a drink. We brought a meal to their houses that can be shared with all the attendees simultaneously, whether in New York, the Hamptons or Miami.”

Meals arrive in disposable, eco-friendly packaging, or collectable ceramic dishes. Tastings 2.0 also works with rental companies to provide stylized tabletop packages, so attendees can choose between several themes such as rustic, neutral, beachy and more for their plates, glasses and linens.

When it comes to customization, that’s not all: Attendees can request cake, flowers, and even a waiter to serve them in their home throughout the virtual event if they choose. 

While attendees wouldn’t normally get to customize so much at in-person events, Tastings 2.0 creates the opportunity at virtual events. Eating with others over Zoom isn’t the same as sharing a tablecloth and an in-person conversation, but this kind of service and personalization is a newly added benefit to an unexpected scenario within the meetings and events industry.

Kevin Hubschmann is a New Jersey-based comedian who has been making people laugh for most of his life. But after not finding as many opportunities to perform live even before the pandemic, he started hosting popup comedy shows in New York City in 2019 under the business name Laugh.Events (pronounced Laugh Dot Events).

 

Just like the rest of the world, the hospitality and travel industries slammed to a halt when the pandemic hit last March. Some sectors within them had built-in solutions to focus on, such as hotels limiting capacities and restaurants focusing on takeout and delivery. But for many businesses within the related meetings and events realm, there were no natural alternatives to turn to.

 

The New York and New Jersey chapters of the National Association for Catering & Events (NACE), along with the Banquet Event Strategic Task Force (BEST Task Force), held an in-person gathering in August, their first since the start of the pandemic.