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SAVOR Chicago, the foodservice company chosen earlier this fall to run Chicago’s McCormick Place food operations, announced the appointment of Chef Vincent Lai as its director of culinary services. Lai comes to Chicago via the San Jose and Vancouver Convention Centers and the kitchens of the Renaissance and Mandarin Oriental Hotels.

Lai, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, loves fresh, local ingredients and lets the calendar dictate the special seasonal dishes he creates. Lai acknowledges the challenge of catering for very large groups, while still maintaining creativity and excellent food quality. It is all about the ingredients, he says.

“My advice is always to get the ingredients right, and then we’ll figure out how to prepare and serve the menu to hundreds or thousands of people,” said Lai.

His menus are consistent with the Asian influence of his cooking background, and he often mixes ethnic cuisines. From box lunches for 16,000 to an intimate reception for 50, Lai believes in keeping it real.

“We use the freshest ingredients and taste everything,” said Lai. “Our client tastings are done as true to the event as possible including appropriate holding time as it would for the actual event. It’s important to me that a meeting planner has the same experience as their attendees will. SAVOR…Chicago is committed to excellence at every step of the experience and I am delighted to join this world-class organization.”

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