The new year starts calmly but we can expect things to ramp up to an exciting 12 months ahead with events of all sizes and nature to take the forefront. #legend speaks to Hong Kong-based events and catering company, Feste Group, about upcoming trends in the events space
The first word we want to slip out of our guests’ lips as they walk into one of our events. Gone are the days of simplicity and clean minimalism, having passed in the blur of COVID-19 and tightening restrictions the last few years, and in comes the ostentatious Maximalism.
Not just to be limited to interior design or forever changing art styles, maximalism seems to have found its place in the events and hospitality world. Bright colours, bold flavours, a kaleidoscope of visual elements, layered decorative accents, and a sensory-overloaded experience have burst into the spotlight as a celebration of happier times ahead. Everyone is constantly looking for something bigger and better, something they’ve never seen before, and will leave their guests wide-eyed in awe.
Working with some of the biggest names across all industries, Hong Kong-based events and catering company, Feste Group – housing bespoke events company, Relish, and well-respected go-to caterers, Gingers – has pretty much seen it all.
“People want experiences that make them feel something. We’ve been numb for too long and people want to share the excitement that ultimately brings us all back together,” says Abby Cadman, owner of Feste Group. General Manager, Tegan Waters, adds that “no one is settling for a regular cocktail party with canapés and wine anymore. Everyone wants to go all out and make their events something to be remembered.”
“Some of our biggest events last year were at the carnival, covering over 3,000 people over three days from our client’s staff to their own clients, alumni, families, and friends. Or at Ape Fest at the old Kai Tak Airport covering 4,000 guests over two days. We’ve seen these bigger events and festivals making a comeback firsthand, not to mention these internationally renowned events such as Art Basel, the LV Menswear show, and upcoming Dior show that are fantastic signs of the return of Hong Kong,” says Cadman.
“Customised menus, tailor-made cocktails, luxurious tablescaping, there has been a move towards the bespoke – which works to our advantage,” says Waters with a laugh. “We’ve done a lot of cool things matching canapés to the colour palette of IWC watches, or having bigger bites corresponding to the different wine regions for the One by Penfolds global launch party back in July.”
Relish has also launched an exclusive beach dining experience where they set up a private table at sunset on a secluded beach of your choice – imagine candlelit pathways, blooming flowers, delicious scents from fresh produce cooked over the open fire wafting in the air. This ultimate experience pays homage to rediscovering the city we call home and realising all the magical possibilities that Hong Kong has to offer.
“We’ve seen companies wanting to reinvest and shine a light on this city with more and more clients asking us to create menus based on local favourites – things like our Hong Kong Milk Tea Panna Cotta, or our Black Charcoal Char Siu Bao,” says Waters.
But, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Even though people are coming out of their COVID-19 bubble with a burst of energy, corporations are still recovering from global economic downturns and years of restrictions. “Budgets have been cut and we see a growing trend of wanting everything for a lot less. Our clients want to bring the wow factor but need us to get creative on how to make magic and entertain with a shoestring budget,” explains Cadman. “We see this continuing into 2024 and it has challenged us to stretch our imagination. Bringing in themed nights and games like our Murder Mystery package has been a great success – nothing like a little bit of friendly competition to bring people together without being a crazy extra cost.”
The grazing table trend is still staying strong and shows no signs of slowing down. “From a table of nicely decorated platters to a full luxurious and generous feast of artisanal cheese, cold cuts, seasonal fruit, and herbaceous dips, to a completely edible garden patch for guests to wander down the olive soil path, this is a great way to create a showstopper centrepiece without costing what a five-course fine dining meal would,” describes Waters. “With the casual fine dining movement becoming more and more popular, we’re bringing bright flavours and pairings in a casual setting that’s easier for people to enjoy their drink, mingle, and chat around the table.”
Cadman adds that “sustainability is the biggest movement our company and industry is experiencing at the moment”. Hong Kong hasn’t been at the forefront of sustainable concepts and solutions, but the community is slowly becoming more conscious of our efforts towards the environment. People have begun working towards a more circular economy, enquiring about farming practices and where the produce comes from. “It’s not just about sustainable packaging and no plastic cutlery which we’ve already cut for years, but using sustainable methods to our advantage in how we create the spark of novelty, for example, individual cocktails in sleek reusable water bottles that are repurposed.”
At the end of the day, trends come and go in our ever-dynamic industry. Our community has faced a lot of challenges, but something that stays constant is the passion and heart for bringing joy to people’s lives through food and events, especially spotlighted through the Young Chef Young Waiter competition Feste Group has brought to Hong Kong that’s about to enter its second year.
Cadman ends with, “No matter what’s changed around us, we just love what we do. And that’s what translates to people and why we blossom in a tough industry. Our core values remain the same whether it’s a small and intimate gathering at home or a massive global launch party – creating unforgettable occasions that bring people together in a celebration of all of what life has to offer.”
Also see: #legendeats: F&B happenings for January