Community. Celebration. Togetherness. Tradition. All important elements of what shape our special JP culture made just a little more challenging in this year of COVID but certainly not impossible. While many of our traditions have been put on hold this year, our annual team dinner was one that we weren’t willing to give up entirely. In a year of uncertainty, adaptability and creative problem solving is key and it just happens to be what we do well, so challenge accepted to create a modified, yet memorable evening for our team.
In previous years, it’s been a fairly consistent routine: we select a lovely, local restaurant with a great bar, amazing food and a large enough banquet room or patio to comfortably fit our entire team and their families.
This year’s planning looked a little different, for obvious reasons. It was important to us to ensure team member safety and comfort while enjoying a nice meal together. We knew that couldn’t happen in the confines of a regular restaurant setting, or with our normal 50+ guest count, so this year it was limited to team members only.
We started with the idea of an outdoor venue, one which gave us plenty of space for social distancing while still enjoying each other’s company during a cocktail hour and nice sit-down dinner. With a few wine lovers on our team, Fasi Estate Winery immediately came to mind and with one simple phone call our vision started coming to life. Side note, if you’ve never been to Fasi (a spectacular, spacious venue just up the 41 with incredible wine and even better hospitality) it’s definitely a must.
Venue, check. Now for the food. We partnered with an amazing caterer DanielxClaire, a local couple who specialize in creative, delectable fine-dining. (We had the pleasure of working with them on our 25th anniversary party last year.) Through creative collaboration over text and an evening of delectable tastings prior to our event, they came up with a brilliant four course meal that literally left our team speechless. The amount of intricate detail that went into delivering this one-of-a-kind fine dining experience could never be described in words (so luckily, we have pictures to share), from our own individual charcuterie boards, individually boxed and branded, to specially selected Fasi wine to our beef bourguignon entree.
Here’s how our evening unfolded:
5pm: JP employees arrived at Fasi Winery in a large shuttle bus from the office (masks mandatory on the ride) ready for happy hour, which included a custom wine flight from Fasi and our individually boxed and branded charcuterie boards.
Let’s not forget to mention the tasty salmon tartare cornets which were strategically placed in a large bowl of peppercorns, easy for individuals to grab.
6pm: Dinner time! We refilled our glasses and took our seats (which were thoughtfully placed at each of the six foot tables) and before long, our lemon arugula salads and homemade fresh artisan bread and butter was served.
The main course was next: a delectable beef bourguignon with puree of potato and parsnip, topped with glazed carrots and onions.
For dessert, single-serve portions of chocolate mousse with red beet overlay and hazelnut cookies.
8pm: Our annual Employee of the Year and Rising Star award recipients were announced (congratulations Kevin Gordy and Jackie Nakashian!) and, as we normally do, we drew names for our Secret Santa gift exchange in December.
By 9pm, our tummies and hearts were full as we took in every last moment of the beautiful starry night sky before we masked up and loaded the bus for the drive home.
Community. Celebration. Togetherness. Tradition. We made it happen! Several thoughtful adjustments to keep our tradition alive and not only create a safe, memorable evening for our team, but quite possibly our favorite team dinner experience yet.
Special thanks to Sammie Chaffin Photography for our amazing photos of the event!
– JEANNA ANTONINO, Operations Director