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ACE Finalist: Catering on the Charles, Part 1

Mid-March, winners of the ACE awards took the stage at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. To enter, each contender was asked to identify the two events the company completed that it felt best represented the company, as well as challenges and favorite aspects.

Throughout the year, will profile the winners and nominees of the 2017 ACE awards. In the next installation of our series, we are placing a keen eye on Catering on the Charles, a runner up in the category of Catering East over $2 million.


Boston University Platform Party 2016

Platform Party, a large springtime garden party, is usually the last event of a very long and exhausting commencement weekend for Aramark’s Catering on the Charles team. The event is hosted by the Boston University president, with invitees including trustees, donors, honorees, and distinguished guests from commencement. Planning begins as early as January with menu development and “theme” ideas. Once a theme and menu is confirmed, the team moves onto prop development for stations. The 2016 theme was French Bistro and included a Patisserie, a Fromage, and a Charcuterie station with raclette grill and wine pairings, a Poisson station with halibut and coquille St. Jacques, and a Champagne Bar among many others.

From Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin to pink lemonade, the Champagne station had beverages aplenty. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

Delicious fromage; a raclette with roasted potatoes, sausage, and onion; and smoked duck breast were among the items served at the Boulangerie et Charcuterie station. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

Truffle duck fat fries. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

Catering on the Charles’ executive chef created a macaron tree with hand-painted branches of edible chocolate, lemon leaf, and macarons.

Beyond the macaron tree, individual (and easier to access) macarons were available at the Patisserie station. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

University carpenters built shelving to mirror the racks and baskets, as one would see in a traditional French bakery, and filled the shelves with homemade baguettes, ficelles, and boules. This was a working display from which chefs pulled product to serve at the Fromage & Charcuterie station.

A beautiful working display of bread of all kinds. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

The company chose a French Bistro theme because it provided myriad opportunities to show off the skills of both pastry and culinary teams, as well as the design skills of the special events team.


The outdoor space consisted of one 40’x60’ main tent with three adjoining 20’x20’ tents, plus one 20’x30’ tent connected with gutters and downspouts that drained underground. All this was done in a space tucked behind a private home in a dense residential neighborhood. Oven, fryolators, ranges, and refrigerators were rented to transform the garage into a fully functioning offsite kitchen.

Roast halibut and seared scallops were among the offering at the Poisson station. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

Citrus poached shrimp

The day of the event was extremely windy and the university facilities team spent much of the morning securing the tent and stakes. The high winds resulted in several last minute floor plan changes to assure the safety of guests and staff.

A colorful display of tasty treats. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

Favorite touches

The Patisserie station with the colorful macaron tree centerpiece was spectacular, said Scott Rosario, marketing director for Catering on the Charles. Madelines, chocolate dipped strawberries, lemon tarts, mille-feuille, and eight other miniature French pastries surrounded the tree.

Exotic fruit assortment. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

Fresh sliced mango, papaya, guava, kiwi, and starfruit surrounded the base with an adjoining espresso bar. The Champagne bar at the front of the tent greeted guests with several types of champagne as well as non-alcoholic beverages such as French lemonade, tangerine lime, pomegranate blueberry, and blood orange sparklers.

From the Champagne station, hibiscus lemonade. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography

Organic juices were offered as well as champagne enhancements that included homemade peach, strawberry, and hibiscus purees. Guests could create their own upscale mimosa with purees and fresh berry garnishes or simply opt for a glass of champagne to celebrate the graduates.

Next week on Aramark’s Catering on the Charles part 2

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the publisher and executive editor for Catersource magazine as well as all of its digital products. 



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