The SquareMeal Canapé Cup: which caterers came out on top?

The SquareMeal Canapé Cup: which caterers came out on top?

Updated on 15 October 2018 • Written By Tonje Odegard

The SquareMeal Canapé Cup: which caterers came out on top?
For London caterers, September’s Venues + Events Live at Old Billingsgate only means one thing: the Canapé Cup. Discover who scooped the top prize and what the exhibition's attendees thought of the bitesize creations 
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup rating card guests
 
Canapés, eh – essential to any event, but notoriously difficult to get right. It requires precision, flair and the ability to pack a punch in one tiny little mouthful. On top of that, it needs to look good, be easy to eat, stand out from your average salmon blinis and tell a story of the event you’re hosting. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? 
 
Wrong. This competition is no small feat. Eight of the capital’s best events caterers battled it out for the title of winner in this Yahire-sponsored event. Boulevard Events, Berkeley Catering, Easy Gourmet, Flavourology, Searcys 30 Euston Square, Drake & Morgan, Cinnamon Kitchen and Rare Food went head to head. Show attendees and judges made their way through the canapés while sipping on Champagne Lanson Black Label Brut. 
 

The winners

These caterers really impressed the judges and guests alike. 
 
SquareMeal Canape Cup Winner badge
 
Boulevard Events 
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup boulevard events
 
Boulevard’s entry was a celebration of its 30 years in the industry. ‘For Friends – Past and Present’ was a dessert canapé inspired by banoffee pie, the first-ever pudding Boulevard put on its first-ever menu at its first-ever restaurant back in 1988. It also happened to be the all-time favourite of the company’s first-ever outside catering client, so to celebrate it was really a no-brainer.    
 
Neatly presented in a mini chocolate toffee collar, on a buttery biscuit disc and with a pretty edible bow on top, it needed to have the wow-factor flavour-wise. And it did. Well done to Boulevard Events – and happy birthday! 
 
Easy Gourmet – runner-up
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup easy gourmet
 
2018 is the year of the vegans, and last year Canapé Cup winner Easy Gourmet’s canapé entry is proof that using vegan produce isn't at the expense of great flavours. People were especially impressed by the three-tiered vegetable garden presentation and the alcoholic shot of mango smoothie that was served with it. 
 
The generous canapé (‘Shojin Ryori’) was a stack of black rice, Japanese panko, avocado, shallots, chili, lime juice, sweetcorn, horseradish, vegan mayo, mustard, courgette, vegan cheese, kuzu and micro herbs. Despite the excessive use of ingredients, they married well. Fresh and zingy, yet filling and moreish – not to mention innovative and creative – we can easily understand why Easy Gourmet scored high. 
 
Cinnamon Kitchen – third place 
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup cinnamon kitchen
 
Cinnamon Kitchen presented the competition’s second dessert – and a rather untraditional one at that. The cheesecake canapé was inspired by Gujarat’s traditional dessert ‘Shrikhand Cheesecake’, a mix of yoghurt, cardamom and lime zezt served on a carom seed crumble with freeze-dried raspberries. Decorated with pretty edible flowers the canapé was served with a Chambord and yoghurt shot. 
 
Not traditionally sweet, the interesting flavour combinations wooed the crowd. What made it a good canapé, though, was the different textures it had – the crunch from the crumble, the chewiness of the raspberries and the smooth yoghurt filling made it a pleasure to eat. 
 
READ MORE: Check out the Cinnamon Collection’s other outposts: Cinnamon Bazaar, The Cinnamon Club, The Cinnamon Club Bar, Cinnamon Kitchen Oxford, Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea and Anise.   
 
Drake & Morgan – critic’s choice      
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup drake and morgan
 
If you’re doing something simple – no singing or tap-dancing – it has to taste amazing. Drake & Morgan’s mini ‘Angus Steak Taco with Kimchee’ canapé was straightforwardly presented on a wooden chopping board in its bitesize wrap and dressed with a coriander leaf. The table presentation consisted merely of a Mexican-inspired table cloth and giant halves of limes sat on the side. 
 
So, did it taste amazing? Yes it did. The soy and ginger-marinated beef was nice and pink, the spicy kimchee wasn’t overpowering and the fermented cabbage, beansprout, spring onion and coriander provided just enough zing and freshness. 
 

The contenders (in no particular order)

Berkeley Catering – ‘Wild Woodland Wander’ 
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup berekely catering
 
This canapé was as a tribute to the ‘beautiful woodland of the UK’ at the beginning of autumn – think wild mushrooms, warm colours and game. The porcini-infused profiterole canapé filled with wild boar salami, a rich mushroom duxelle and pickled wild mushrooms surely provided what it promised – a taste of autumn. We were transported to Sunday roast dinners filled with gravy and Yorkshire puddings. The little syringe of an alcohol-infused red-winey palate teaser also lifted the dish. 
 
We also liked the presentation – a dramatic bouquet of branches and a moss floor decorated with lanterns and tree cones. 
 
Flavourology – ‘The Forbidden Fruit’ 
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup caterers flavourology
 
Remaining in the autumnal corner, Flavourology’s canapé was presented in a distinctly woodland-like environment; they were served on tree trunk discs resting on a grass floor decorated with apples (naturally) and fly agaric mushrooms. 
 
The tiny spheres, (made to look like apples, but in fact containing toasted hazelnut in truffled brie) sat on top of a round cocoa shortbread. The filling was dipped in a beetroot and cherry gel to form the dome shape and was finished with a pea-shoot twine.  
 
The flavours were autumnal too. The nuttiness of the truffle and the hazelnut went well with the gooey brie and was lifted by the earthiness of the beetroot. The biscuit added a nice texture and the cherry some much-needed sweetness. 
 
Searcys 30 Euston Square – ‘Pop My Cherry’ 
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup caterers searcys
 
Probably the competition’s most deceiving entry, this illusion canapé was a savoury cherry. Biting into a creation that looks exactly like a big, juicy cherry (expecting the taste of a cherry), we were instead met with the flavours of an amaretto jelly parfait. 
 
The cherry-glazed dome was served on a bed of toasted almonds and brioche and a tiny syringe filled with amaretto for guests to inject the canapé with before eating. Interactive and fun, it certainly stood out. Not everyone enjoyed how the canapé toyed with their taste buds though…   
 
READ MORE: Did you know Searcy’s cater at The Gherkin, at 30 Pavilion Road in Knightsbridge and St Pancras Restaurant and Champagne Bar?  
 
Rare Food – ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ 
 
SquareMeal Venues and Events Canape Cup caterers rare food
 
Rare Food labelled its canapé as an ‘Eat Me, Drink Me combination’. The Eat Me element was the caterpillar’s mushroom (a whole baby button mushroom) served on a puffed rice tuile and filled with a celebration of mushrooms (truffles, enoki, crimino and chanterelle). The Drink Me element consisted of a ‘potion’ (a green smoothie) of cucumber, mint and matcha afternoon tea.   
 
The earthy flavours of mushrooms, with the different textures and individual tastes they all offer were contrasted by the fresh and zingy super-green smoothie. A fascinating combination, for sure – a little bit mad, just like the hatter.
 
Need more catering inspo? Browse our full list of caterers here     
      
 
Photos: Joel Ryan