Ignite

November/December 2015

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34 | Ignitemag.ca | November | December 2015 Here's what happens when you're asked to host the prime ministers of Canada and India and 573 guests— and have it all over in 45 minutes! by Laura Bickle The staff at the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront are accustomed to pulling off high- profile events. But last April, with just one week's notice, they were charged with an event that really put their skills to the test: the state dinner in the hotel's recently renovated ballroom with then Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with more than 500 guests, many from the Canadian Indian community. The Pinnacle's team worked closely with the PMO's event planner to pull off such a high- level dinner. Their greatest challenge? "Things would change at a moment's notice," says Jonas Melin, general manager of the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront. "The fluidity of the schedule was more than we anticipated." For example, given the tight schedules of both PMs, the dinner was planned for only 45 minutes—and was even shorter in reality due to the Indian PM's late arrival. "We had the kitchen on stand-by," says Melin. Regardless, the event drew raves from the attendees. Here's a look at how they made it happen. SECURITY • The security teams required several site tours, outlining access points and other features. The hotel's engineer ran through the airflow system and detailed which doors lock and which do not. • Only a small group of hotel employees were aware of the identities of the guests of honour. • All of the staff working the event (anyone in the kitchen or entering the ballroom) were cleared by the RCMP and required to attend a briefing. • Identification provided by the RCMP had to be worn by all those working the event. FOOD • Every ingredient was tasted and lab-tested by Health Canada and an Indian health representative a few days in advance. • There was heavy security in the kitchen: All cooks had to have their hands visible when the prime ministers passed through prior to the dinner. • Chef Edmund Yee created a vegetarian, lactose-free, gluten-free and nut-free menu, as requested by the Indian delegation. The nature of the menu eliminated the need for special orders, which increased efficiency. LOGISTICS • Generally speaking, the Pinnacle allots one server for a table of 10. In this case the requirement was 2 servers per table of 10. • Servers were given specific instructions on presenting both PMs with their food and drinks at the same time. • The guest count was originally 450 but grew to 573. Get the menu on our digital edition at ignitemag.ca portfolio STATE SECRETS

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