Examples of picnic food offered by Horizon in basket with salads, pastas etc


The Future of Catering

The conference and events industry has been one of the hardest hit by the Coronavirus pandemic and while the industry now has more clarity on returning to business in October, it is essential that venues ensure that their offering is in alignment with the government guidance, and that their environment and meeting experience is one that organisers and delegates feel comfortable with. Catering is often identified as one of the critical success factors to an event, so much so that in the 2020 British Meetings and Events Industry Survey, the quality of the food and beverage was in the top ten factors that organizers consider when choosing a venue and is often an area that influences venue satisfaction ratings. In the new conference and meetings world that we are now entering, we are all conscious that the conference experience is changing, especially in the area of catering; whilst the days of self-service buffet may be a thing of the past, venues are quickly adapting their catering offer to ensure organisers and delegates are not left disappointed. ConferenceLeeds, the conferencing bureau for the city of Leeds, has spoken to one of its most popular venues, Horizon, which has crafted a new menu of tasty dining options that not only conform with COVID regulations but are sustainable, too.

Horizon was established in 2014 when the NHS Confederation, which brings together organizations that plan, provide and commission NHS services in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, were struggling to find a conference and meeting space in the North that could compete with Southern rivals.

As part of the NHS Confederation, the team at Horizon know the incredible and continuing hard work of the NHS and have been working hard during the lockdown period to ensure that they are able to provide a venue and an experience that delegates feel comfortable with. It was clear that the dining options on offer pre-COVID would no longer be suitable as we emerge from lockdown, and similarly venues would need to find alternatives for communal cutlery and drink stations.

Prior to lockdown, Horizon had achieved sustainable and environmentally friendly practices with its lunch and refreshments and had minimised single use plastics by switching to reusable crockery, platters, and cutlery and using recyclable single-use products. Now, the venue has worked with its catering provider, Catering Yorkshire, to produce quality dishes that are not only tasty and filling but serve a sustainability factor too!

Served in fully compostable containers, with wooden cutlery and recyclable napkins, Horizon’s new dining options include bowl food options for the health conscious or personal picnics, which can be adapted to cater for all dietary requirements from vegan and vegetarian, to allergies and speciality diets. The picnics have been crafted to give delegates a taste of Yorkshire and are filled with local produce. The new Perfect Yorkshire Treat VIP picnic menu is available for £12.95+ VAT per person and includes a Yorkshire pudding wrap, wensleydale and redcurrant tartlet, Whitby fish cake with parsley lemon mayonnaise and a selection of Yorkshire cheeses. The new dining options ensure minimal contact service, with the venue also staggering lunch services to ensure there is no overcrowding and offering a table-by-table option to cater safely for larger events. Refreshments will also be served from a self-service machine, where delegates are encouraged to bring their own reusables or can use Horizon’s compostable cups.

Natalie Pitts, Manager at Horizon Leeds commented: “Prior to lockdown, we were achieving our goal of becoming a more sustainable venue and we were determined to continue this effort when ensuring our offering was COVID-compliant. We are incredibly proud of the work that has been done to ensure that delegates will be safe when returning to Horizon, and we look forward to the return of the conference and events industry.”

Claire Heap, Head of ConferenceLeeds, said: “The conference and events industry is bursting to get back to work, however we are aware that there are measures that venues must put in place to ensure the safety of delegates and organisers. Catering is a hugely important factor, with the quality of the food and beverage was in the top ten factors that organizers consider when choosing a venue, in the recent 2020 British Meetings and Events Industry Survey, and so it’s great to see how Horizon has adapted their catering offer in a manner that will continue to entice delegates and wet their appetite!”

For more information about ConferenceLeeds, please visit: www.conferenceleeds.co.uk

For more information about Horizon, please visit: www.horizonleeds.co.uk

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For more information about ConferenceLeeds, please contact Shauna Madden or Stacey Kedwards on [email protected]